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          2020 Reopening Plan

          The Year Ahead Will Be Like No Other. We're Used to That Here.

          Now, like always, we are challenging teachers and students to think differently. To be creative. To explore, hypothesize, problem-solve, and prototype. These are the skills that will become second nature for the people who will answer the next set of big questions in our world.

          Learning occurs best in the context of connected community. Establishing this sense of connection and belonging to a broader community is fundamental to the Sonoma Academy experience and is a priority at all times—whether we are teaching and learning in person or virtually. 

          In extraordinary times our core values of creativity, innovation, empathy, and flexibility are more necessary and relevant than ever.


          School will reopen in August with an adapted schedule, and with processes and procedures developed to align with the most current guidance from the state, county, and the Sonoma County Office of Education. 

          In order to identify the primary constraints and requirements of reopening, we have utilized the Sonoma County Office of Education’s publication 2020-21 Sonoma County Road Map to Safe Reopening. SCOE has advised all schools to prepare plans for reopening that align with California's Stage 3 Reopening Plan. 

          Please note that there is a brief survey to gather your input at the end of this website page. Please review the information and then fill out the survey. Thank you!
          The Covid-19 pandemic remains a highly fluid situation that changes rapidly. In August, it is possible that California and Sonoma County will be further along with reopening plans—and it is also possible that conditions may deteriorate and reopening plans will be stepped back. Regardless, we are poised to open under a variety of conditions and remain hopeful that we will resume school as we outline in this Reopening Plan.

          Additionally, while we will calibrate and refine our schedule in an ongoing manner once we reopen, we plan to conduct a formal assessment of the schedule after the first four weeks of school. SCOE has also indicated that it will be assessing its criteria for schools after one month and may relax the constraints at that time.

          We will remain alert and in touch with the most current developments and health orders in order to refine or alter our schedule as needed.

          Health & Safety Guidelines

          Teaching & Learning in the Covid-19 Era

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          Virtual forms of teaching and learning are enhanced by building this connection between teacher and student. Additionally, teachers and students thrive in an environment of autonomy and flexibility.

          Our staffulty have been engaged in a deep and thorough process determining the best approach to address the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic while also enabling faculty to teach in the ways that are most meaningful to them and to our students.

          This past spring our immersive experience with distance learning allowed us to create key priorities that were shaped by faculty, student, and parent feedback:
          • Create a connected community in which students are able to learn
          • Support the health and safety of our community members
          • Maximize in-person learning and social opportunities
          • Pivot seamlessly into or out of distance learning—as California and Sonoma County move into or out of various stages of openness
          • Minimize daily time on Zoom
          • Provide for those students who may need to learn remotely for all or large periods of time next year
          Our staffulty researched over a dozen different scheduling models and explored the pedagogical requirements inherent in blended and hybrid learning models. Through this process, we sought to adapt our block schedule to accommodate health and safety requirements while also enabling our teachers to continue to deliver an excellent educational experience.

          Stage 3 Reopening Schedule

          To reopen safely, in accordance with guidance from SCOE, the Sonoma County Health Department, and California's Stage 3 Reopening, we will utilize a modified traditional model, blending in-class instruction with distance learning. 

          The schedule depicted below:
          • Reduces the number of students on-campus and in-class, allowing for 6 feet of physical distance to be maintained indoors.
          • Assigns students to an on-campus learning cohort (Buckeyes or Coyotes) that allows reduced density on campus, lowers total daily exposures per student and staffulty, and enables rapid contact tracing in the event of Covid-19 exposure or infection.
          • Maximizes in-person learning and eliminates the concurrent approach (in which some students learn in person while others learn concurrently through virtual platforms).
          • Utilizes the 10-4 Model developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel in order to reduce the possibilities of infection. (See sidebar for more detail on this)—this model means that students will be on-campus and learning in-person for four days, then off-campus and learning virtually (plus weekends) for ten days.
          • Utilizes an alternating AM/PM model so that students who learn better at different times of day will always have a certain number of classes during their optimum learning times. This alternating model also allows for each group of students to participate in after-school activities in person on the days when they are on campus in the afternoons.
          • Allows us to pivot relatively seamlessly into schedules that accommodate greater or lesser restrictions, depending on the course of the pandemic, State and County health guidelines, etc.

          The 10-4 Approach

          This model predicts that a two-week cycle can reduce the virus’s reproduction number—the average number of people infected by each infected person—below one. So a 10-4 cycle could suppress the epidemic while allowing sustainable activity.

          The premise of this approach to reopening schools and workplaces is as follows: It takes an average of three days after a person becomes infected with Covid-19 before they can infect someone else. Theoretically, this means that people may work or attend school together for a short time (especially if also following other health and hygiene guidelines) if they then spend another stretch of time away from people—four days of school/work followed by ten days at home. If they have gotten sick during their time at school/work, it will show up during their ten days away (this includes two weekends in the schedule we’ve outlined) and they won’t come into school for their next in-person learning opportunity.

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          Cyclic strategies to suppress COVID-19 and allow economic activity (Medium)

          10-4: How to Reopen the Economy by Exploiting the Coronavirus’s Weak Spot (NY Times)

          This Twist on the Four-Day Workweek Could Get People Back to Work Without Causing New Outbreaks (Fast Company)

          Buckeyes & Coyotes

          Over the past month, we have analyzed our spaces to determine the maximum number of students we can safely accommodate using the guideline of 6 feet of distancing between students and teachers. In order to split our student population into Coyotes and Buckeyes, we will be considering these room limits in addition to transportation concerns, such as keeping families together. We will also look at commuter regions to ensure that carpooling options will be available while trying to keep student numbers on our train shuttles as distributed between the groups as possible.

          Before the beginning of school, students will be notified of their cohort assignment. This will determine their in-person on-campus times.


          List of 17 frequently asked questions.

          • Why are other counties opening at a faster or slower rate? Why do some schools have fewer restrictions?

            The state of California has articulated a Resilience Roadmap that outlines the stages of reopening, which businesses and services may open during which stages, and the criteria each individual county needs to meet in order to move into its next stage of reopening. Local health jurisdictions that meet the criteria set forth by the California Department of Public Health and follow the process in the county guidance may move further ahead in the Resilience Roadmap

            Thus, each county will move at a pace that allows it to meet all criteria established by the state.

            These criteria include:
            • Stable or down trending hospitalizations
            • Cases per population count and test positivity rate
            • Testing capacity (minimum daily testing volume to test 1.5 per 1,000 residents, and testing availability for at least 75% of residents)
            • Contact tracing capacity
            • County (or regional) hospital capacity to accommodate a minimum surge of 35% due to COVID-19 cases in addition to providing usual care for non-COVID-19 patients.  
            • Counties must produce plans for the following related to county-wide containment: robust plan to protect the hospital workforce, both clinical and nonclinical, with PPE; guidance for employers and essential critical infrastructure workplaces on how to structure the physical environment to protect essential workers; availability of supplies (disinfectant, essential protective gear) to protect essential workers; emergency housing capacity for homeless residents in the event of an outbreak; detailed plans on which sectors and spaces will be opened, in what sequence, on what timeline.
            • County metrics that would serve as triggers for either slowing the pace through Stage 2 or tightening modifications.
            To read the detailed requirements that each county must follow, read California State's County Variance Information.
          • What are students supposed to be doing during the half days when they have no classes scheduled?

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          • Can my student be on campus all day during the four in-person days?

            There will be a limited number of spaces available for those families who need their students to remain on campus all day. To indicate your family's need to pursue this option, please fill out the survey at the end of this website page.

            Priority will be given to families that can demonstrate need versus "want." We understand that in an ideal scenario, all students would be able to be on campus all day and we hope to see our county move into a stage that allows this to occur. Until then, we must reduce the number of students on campus at any given time in order to minimize potential contacts and exposure, keep students in groups that allow for physical distancing requirements to be met, and so on.
          • How will we assess the schedule at the mid-quarter?

            As with all of our plans next year, we must be nimble to any new information and to changing conditions. As with last year, we will have a family feedback form available at all times so that the flow of information will be continuous. In addition, we will be formally assessing the implementation of our new schedule and protocols through feedback from families, students, and faculty. Based on this formal assessment, we may make some changes to our schedules moving forward.
          • What transportation options will be available to students?

            As in other years, we will provide school bus service serving residents of Sonoma and Napa, with pickup stops to be determined as families indicate their interest in this service.  Students in these regions may be placed into the same cohort (Buckeye or Coyote) in order to facilitate transportation needs. Depending on service availability, students taking the school bus may need to be on campus all day and placed into our mandatory programming (study hall and PE) during their non-class times. There is a fee for bus service. Families who anticipate needing bus service should indicate interest in the survey at the end of this website page.

            We will continue to provide the free shuttle from and to the downtown Santa Rosa SMART Train Depot. The SMART Train has not solidified its route hours for the fall yet, but shuttle service will be coordinated in alignment with the train schedule. Additionally, students commuting to and from school via this method may be placed in the same cohort (Buckeye/Coyote) to facilitate greatest ease of transportation. Families interested in using this service should indicate interest in the survey at the end of this website page.

            For all school provided transportation, we will comply with the most current state and county health orders. Currently, these include alternate seat spacing, all students and drivers wearing masks, opening of windows, and increased cleaning protocols using our new electrostatic disinfectant sprayer technology.
          • Will there be lunch service in the GAC?

            We are still determining what, if any, form of lunch service we may be able to offer next year. Given the minimal number of days on campus planned in our Stage 3 schedule, and physical distance and other safety protocols regarding maximum capacities indoors, It is highly likely that we will be unable to provide lunch service as we have done in previous years.
          • What is the Exploratory & Impact Program?

            We have identified a series of Exploratory and Connections programs where students are able to have an impact on our various communities—Sonoma Academy, local, national, and global. We will continue these programs and add more that faculty and students have identified as areas of interest. Students not in 9th grade Belonging/Health & Wellness or College Counseling will be required to participate in one Exploratory/Impact program.
          • What about College Counseling?

            12th grade students in Quarters 1 and 2 and 11th grade students in Quarter 3 will attend online College Counseling sessions weekly during their AM or PM off-campus blocks. They will also continue to meet virtually one on one with the college counselors by appointment during their off-campus blocks/free periods during their time not in class. College representatives will be hosting virtual tours and Q&A sessions throughout the early part of the year.
          • How about Intersession?

            Given the experiential nature of Intersession and the anticipated restrictions as a result of Covid-19 in January, we are exploring the option of moving Intersession to May 2021 after final exams. If we did this, it would change the start of Semester 2 to begin immediately after the Winter Break. We will make a final decision about this and update you in August.
          • What about international travel and the Passport Program?

            We definitely will not be planning any international travel for January 2021. If conditions change before the Thanksgiving Break and we feel that international travel is safe for groups of students during Spring Break, we will consider offering programs beginning with some of those that were cancelled last year. 

            Over the past month, we have been working towards articulating the global competencies that we hope students will gain through our international programs. We will use these competencies to explore finding ways for students to continue this important work even if international travel is not a possibility.
          • What will Health & Wellness look like?

            The 9th grade students will engage weekly in our new Belonging curriculum in small in-person and online groups with teachers and 12th grade TAs. The goal of the Belonging curriculum is to foster a sense of connection to the Sonoma Academy community for our newest members. 10th-12th grade students will engage in Health & Wellness workshops throughout the year.
          • What about sports and teams?

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            Our current plan is as follows:

            Phase 1: Coyotes at home (July 1–August 3)
            Student-athletes will continue to work out at home. It is always important to prepare for the season, but this year it is especially important after sheltering in place. We encourage student-athletes to begin their preparation for the fall season around July 1, which will allow enough time to gradually return to fitness. This will be helpful to be ready to play as guidelines allow, reduce the chance of injuries, and improve performances, especially if seasons are shortened.

            Phase 2: Coyote Fall Sports Camp (August 4–August 6)
            We will not be able to host our annual Fall Sports Camp on campus; however, we plan to offer a 3-day online training program. The camp will be free of charge and we will use the Zoom platform for the sessions. The sessions will be designed to accommodate limited space and equipment. More details will be sent to all students who indicated interest in team sports for the 2020-21 school year. See below for how to indicate interest if you have not yet done so.

            Phase 3: Coyotes together (Monday, August 10)
            This is the first official day of fall sports for the North Coast Section. We are awaiting word from the North Coast Section (NCS) and California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) as well as any updated local health guidelines. We plan to offer a combination of at-home guided activities, as well as small group and team in-person activities as guidelines allow.

            Within phase 3, we expect the following phases to eventually lead to a full return as sports governing bodies, local health guidelines and schools allow:
            • Guided activities from home
            • Small group activities on campus
            • Limited team activities
            • Full team activities
            • Returning to team competition
            All practices will be designed to work within the context outlined in the Stage 3 Schedule. Thus, students who are not on-campus on a given afternoon will not be required to attend on-campus practice, but may be required to participate in some form of physical conditioning while at home. Additionally, during the 100% virtual week outlined in the Stage 3 Schedule, teams will have virtual practices and workouts to maintain conditioning.

            Other Athletic Information & Requirements

            The North Coast Section requires every student-athlete have an annual physical on file in order to participate. Due to Covid-19, the NCS has granted a 30-day extension for the physicals but requires that all student-athletes must have their previous physical on file in order for that to happen. Incoming 9th graders and transfer students will need to provide their most recent wellness check/physical and returning students will need to have their previous physical on file.

            In addition to the normal equipment needs for cross country, boys soccer and volleyball, we encourage student-athletes to have a fitness/yoga mat for home workouts. In addition, volleyball players and soccer players will be required to have their own balls. We will have some balls available to loan but not until team activities begin in mid-August. Each student-athlete will be required to bring their own water bottle and face mask.

            NCS/CIF updates
            The North Coast Section is hoping to begin the fall season as scheduled on August 10 and to hold the fall, winter and spring seasons as scheduled. However, it is possible that the fall season start date will be pushed back, which could affect the winter and spring calendars as well. Our goal is to plan for an August 10 return, but also to be ready to communicate and adjust once information is made available.

            We understand that this spring and summer were very unique and forced major adjustments to families’ schedules. Our coaches and athletic staff are committed to working with families during this challenging stretch, even if it means returning to activities after the official start date.

            Specifically for boys soccer and girls volleyball, we are currently unsure of the exact timing or structure of tryouts and team formation. Once we have more information (including exact number of interested student-athletes), we will create a structure that allows student-athletes to be evaluated and placed. Our goal remains to create an opportunity for as many student-athletes as possible to be involved.

            Covid-19 Considerations Specific to Sports
            Please know that we will be mandating some additional protocol that are required/recommended by sports governing bodies including but not limited to:
            • Equipment and facility restrictions (no sharing equipment, limited access to certain facilities, increased cleaning of equipment, etc.)
            • Spacing and contact in initial phases of return
            • Gradual return to fitness after expected loss of fitness during Shelter in Place
            • Student-athletes are required to bring their own water bottles
            Interested in a fall sport (cross country, boys soccer, girls volleyball)? Please email Chris Ziemer at chris.ziemer@sonomaacademy.org to be added to the team interest list to receive updated information. Please specify which team you are interested in.
          • What about theater and dance?

            Where there's a will, there's a way, and our performing arts staffulty feel strongly that "the show must go on." 

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            Though we are not yet certain what the performance possibilities and constraints will be, we have plans that can be implemented depending on the situation. These are as follows: outdoor performance in the amphitheater with physical distance "squares" marked off for family groups, possibly with a very reduced audience size and livestreaming for those who cannot be present in person; or an outdoor performance with no audience and viewable by livestream only. In the event that no performance is possible, we believe that the learning, skills-building, and camaraderie experienced throughout the rehearsal time will still be an extremely valuable and enriching experience for our students.

            For the play planned for the spring, we will evaluate conditions and make plans accordingly.

            Theater Director Jen Coté (jenifer.cote@sonomaacademy.org) will be in touch with all fall play cast members and their families later this summer with any additional detail or updated information on safety guidelines.

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          • What about the music program?

            As with theater, where there's a will, there's a way. While there is much yet unknown, Music Director Amanda McFadden and Music Teacher Daniel Reiter are collecting information from many music channels and exploring best practices while we await guidance on how to safely implement our music program. We are confident that we will be able to provide ample musical opportunities even within the constraints of the current guidelines.

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            It is important to note that for all students registered for music classes, they will need to bring instruments home and have space where they can practice. Families should think about how to accommodate and support this, especially during the at-home portions of our schedule.

            We will be exploring outdoor performance opportunities with limited audiences if allowed to do so by the current health orders. 

            If any students are interested in participating in music opportunities beyond registered classes and/or have ideas about how to keep our campus alive with the sound of music, please contact Amanda McFadden at amanda.mcfadden@sonomaacademy.org.
          • Will there be a Robotics team?

            Our Robotics team, Ellipse 6814, is eagerly awaiting the start to the 2021 season. Although the competition will be a modified version of last year's game given the cancellation of the 2020 season, the team has already begun brainstorming new and improved robot prototypes and various game strategies. Additionally, the team is discussing alternative options for a pre-season build and practice, keeping in the mind the modifications required by our Stage 3 Schedule.

            Interested students should contact Changa Imara at changa.imara@sonomaacademy.org or Ramsey Musallam at ramsey.musallam@sonomaacademy.org.
          • Will there be Speech & Debate?

            This year, students had the option of signing up for a Speech or Debate academic course. We will have the same rigorous tournament schedule, just without the physical travel. The speech and debate community has created and tested a robust online tournament platform, so even though it won't be the same as in-person competitions, we are ready for a full season of competition. 

            We anticipate that the team will meet on campus on weekends to participate in tournaments. With the small number of students participating at any given time and ample space on campus on the weekends, we will be able to maintain physical distance and safety protocols as needed during these competition times. Classrooms will be outfitted with desktop computers from which students will join the Zoom competition calls. Students will use their own computers for speeches and evidence.

            In the event that we return to distance learning, students will still be able to compete from home. We will be purchasing enough headsets, ethernet cables, and other tech accessories to ensure that students have what they need should this occur.
          • Will student leadership groups meet and function this year?

            Yes! Student Leadership Council, Judicial Honor Council, Yearbook and other leadership groups will continue to meet and work throughout the year. Meetings will be virtual in the Stage 3 Schedule.

          Your Input Is Needed!

          We would like to solicit your feedback on the Stage 3 Schedule, as well as to let you know that we will begin to formally assess the schedule and its efficacy during the first four weeks of the first quarter. As always, we will provide an ongoing means of feedback once school resumes.

          Please take a few moments to fill out the feedback form below.
          2500 Farmers Lane 
          Santa Rosa, CA 95404 
          (707) 545-1770 

          Sonoma Academy Is...

          ...is the only private, independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On our beautiful campus nestled at the base of Taylor Mountain in Southeastern Santa Rosa, our students are able to explore their interests and passions in a rigorous and inspiring environment that develops a lifelong love of learning and prepares them for college and beyond.

          Sonoma Academy admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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