Skip to main content

You are here

Re-Entry Communications

Our Head of School - Rebecca Zipprich's re-entry communications to the Shu Ren community for the 2020-2021 school year.

September 29, 2020

Dear Shu Ren Community,

Since the start of the school year, we have communicated our commitment to safely resuming in-person learning for our K-6 students. 

Our PreK program is currently open, as is emergency care for essential workers.

We are currently pursuing two paths to reopening. This email provides a summary of each path’s status:

1. Reopening Waiver

On September 14, according to the ACOE-ACPHD Waiver Tracker, the Alameda County Public Health Department  (ACPHD) received our reopening waiver request. Last Thursday, September 24, we learned that the City of Berkeley will evaluate all waiver applications for schools located in Berkeley, this includes Shu Ren. The Berkeley School and Child Care Liaison has informed us that it will take several weeks to review each school’s waiver. Our current best estimate is that Berkeley will complete this process mid-October. 

2. Tier 2 Alameda County Reopening

Last week, Alameda County moved from “widespread” Tier 3 to “substantial” Tier 2 status.  This is great news, as it means that COVID-19 is less prevalent in the community.  In response to this change in status, ACPHD stated:  “Bringing students back for in-person learning is a top priority for the next phase of reopening. Though counties in the Red Tier are permitted to open schools for in-person learning after two weeks in the Red Tier, our Health Officer Order issued on August 28 clarified that schools must continue distance learning until such time that local conditions support in-person learning, even if the County meets the State’s criteria for in-person learning.” 

The Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) echoed ACPHD’s desire to return students to in-person learning, but cautioned that any reopening will be subject to restrictions to protect the health and safety of students and staff.

 If Alameda County remains in Tier 2 past October 6, we anticipate that all schools in Alameda County will be able to reopen sometime in October in accordance with  California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. 

We must remain strong and hopeful that our K-6 students will return to campus in October. We will continue to work with the ACPHD, the City of Berkeley, and the Shu Ren community to advocate for our student’s safe return to in-person learning. We will continue to provide you updates as more information becomes available. As always, please feel free to email me with any questions. 

Warm Regards,

Rebecca

--

Rebecca Zipprich
Head of School
Shu Ren International School / An IB World School

September 16, 2020

Dear Shu Ren Community,

Yesterday we welcomed our K and G1 students to campus! Teachers and students were brimming over with excitement to be learning together in person. It warmed our hearts to see them back on campus. Classrooms are set up to encourage physical distancing, outdoor covered learning areas are available, and our health screening runs efficiently. For our distance students, they were able to participate in synchronous lessons with their classmates and receive individualized feedback from teachers.  Thank you to our teachers and staff for their tremendous effort in making this a reality!

We are also excited to share that our Form of Interest to Reopen was accepted by the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) and we have submitted the Reopening Waiver for K-6. We are proud to announce that we are currently among 4 out of 112 schools in Alameda County that have moved to phase three (the final phase) of the reopening waiver process. 

Our target date for reopening campus to all K-6 students is Monday, October 5. However, this date will be dependent upon how quickly our application moves through phase three of the ACPHD waiver process. We remain cautiously optimistic that K-6 students who choose in-person learning will be back on campus in 2.5 weeks! 

Next week we will send an email to Grade 2-6 families to confirm their preference for in-person or blended learning. As always, feel free to send me any questions.

Warm Regards,

Rebecca

--

Rebecca Zipprich
Head of School
Shu Ren International School / An IB World School

September 3, 2020

Dear Shu Ren Community,

This email is intended to provide the latest update on our re-entry plans for K-6. As you will see, we are initiating two separate plans based on the most current State and local guidelines.  As always, I am available to answer any questions you may have regarding these new plans.

In-person Pre-K learning is off to a great start and is unaffected by this announcement.

PLAN FOR KINDERGARTEN, GRADE 1, AND EMERGENCY CARE STUDENTS

Return To Campus Date: Monday, September 14.

We received new guidelines from the State and have received confirmation from our local health officials that our Kindergarten and Grade 1 students may return to in-person learning on campus. The new guidelines are presented below for your reference:
     Guidance for Small Cohorts/Groups of Children and Youth 
     FAQ: Providing Targeted, Specialized Support and Services at School. 

 Key Points From The New Guidance

  • We can provide in-person learning for students whom we consider our most vulnerable population.
  • We must maintain stable cohorts of 14 or fewer students.
  • Each cohort may have no more than two full-time supervising adults.
  • We may use up to 25% of our physical building capacity for K-6 students.

Our Vulnerable Population

We have identified Kindergarten and Grade 1 students, as well as Grade 2-6 emergency care students as our most vulnerable population. It is clear that distance learning is the most challenging for this age group, which is why we have prioritized their return to campus. 

Stable Cohorts 

State guidelines require students to be in stable cohorts of no more than 14 with a maximum of two full-time supervising adults for a minimum period of three weeks. Data collected before the start of the year through the Family Re-entry Survey indicated that K and G1 classes each have 14 or fewer students who prefer in-person learning. Our in-person classes will reopen based on this data and no changes in preference can occur for the first three weeks of reopening. If the school hasn’t received a waiver by October 5, parents will have a chance to change their preference to in-person learning. If an in-person class exceeds 14 students when preferences change, we will reassess our reopening model and discuss options with our families. 

Blended Learning

In the Blended Learning Model, students learning at-home and at-school follow the same schedule. All students will continue to receive English, Art, Music, and Drama through our online learning platforms.

Day and Time

Monday through Friday from 8:30-3:15. A staggered arrival and dismissal time will be communicated before students return.

Aftercare

3:15-4:00 extended school day. We will provide care for families in need during the 3:15-4:00 period. This was originally intended for homework support, but homework will not be assigned this school year, due to changes in our blended and distance learning model. This is free of charge, but we do request that families only use this option, if it is absolutely necessary. 

Aftercare from 4:00-5:00 will only be provided for children of essential workers. We currently only have students in Grade 2-6 enrolled in aftercare and will not be accepting any additional students in K and Grade 1. 

Due to current COVID-19 guidelines, we are not able to mix-groups for aftercare, which is why our options for aftercare are limited.  We hope to be able to offer more aftercare options for families in the future when it is safe to do so.

Additional Information
Additional information will be sent home to Kindergarten and Grade 1 families next week.  

PLAN FOR GRADE 2-6

Return To Campus Date: Estimated by the end of September or the first week of October

As indicated above, we can only use 25% of our physical capacity under the new State guidelines, which is why we cannot bring all K-6 students back to campus. However, last night the Alameda County Office of Education announced that the Elementary School Reopening Waiver Process is now open. The first step in this process is for schools to complete the in-person Learning Readiness Questionnaire, which we completed last night. Next, the Alameda County Office of Education will review the questionnaire and will send a link to complete the formal waiver application. After speaking with our local health officer yesterday, it will likely take several weeks for the application to be processed, once submitted. 

Again, we are fully confident that the waiver will be accepted and our K-6 students will be back on campus in the next couple of weeks! 

Thank you all for your continued support and patience, as we work with local agencies to implement these re-entry plans.

Warm Regards,

Rebecca

--

Rebecca Zipprich
Head of School
Shu Ren International School / An IB World School

August 25, 2020

Dear Shu Ren Families,

Last Friday, August 21 we received an update from the Alameda County Health Department regarding new guidelines for schools offering Academic Camps. 

Based on this update, we shared with you all our plan to offer in-person Academic Camps to support distance learning and provide childcare for all our families. 

We spent the last four days working out the details for implementation on this plan and were about to hit the send button on that email when just this afternoon, Community Care Licensing released new and unexpected rules that appear to implicate our plans. https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/CCLD/PINs/2020/CCP/PIN-20-22-CCP.pdf

We have to put our Academic Camp plan on hold, while we review and incorporate this new order and any additional requirements. We know you are anxious for details, please bear with us for a few more days. We want to send you information that will be accurate and not immediately obsolete. 

We understand your frustration at the uncertainty of the current situation. We share your feelings. 

Here is what we do know:

Care for essential workers will be offered as planned beginning Monday, August 31. More details will be sent to these families by Friday, August 28.

Distance learning for elementary students will begin August 31. You can learn more about our Blended and Distance Learning Plans for the 2020-2021 school year here.

We will continue to work towards the deployment of Academic Camps in a safe and legal manner. At a minimum Academic Camps will not open before September 7.

We will send out updated information as soon as possible.

Warm Regards,

Rebecca

--

Rebecca Zipprich
Head of School
Shu Ren International School / An IB World School

August 18, 2020

Dear Shu Ren Families,

We’ve been working around the clock these past couple of months preparing for the moment when we open our doors again for students this Fall. I envisioned that the email sent two weeks before the start of the year would welcome families and provide an overview of the Reopening Health and Safety Plan we have established and implemented over the last two months to promote the health and safety of our community.

I am disheartened that despite our greatest efforts, in-person learning will not be an option for our K-6 students on August 31 for the following reasons:

Alameda County is not issuing COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Elementary Education Waiver at this time.

Alameda County prevalence rates currently exceed the State requirements for issuing waivers. According to the latest data, our testing positivity rate is currently above 8%.

This weekend we received notice from our local health officials that we cannot offer Academic Camps. 

As a working mother of two children at Shu Ren, I feel the anxiety and sadness that comes with this information. After so many months of SIP, it is hard to grapple with the reality that the Coronavirus is more present in our community than ever. We must all continue to make unprecedented sacrifices for the health of those we love and our larger community. 

Our community and the talented group of educators I am privileged to work with is what gives me hope every day.  We are all committed to doing everything possible to make this the best experience for our children. 

The following is information to help you prepare for the start of the school year.  More information will be sent home from your classroom teacher on Monday, August 24. 

Pre-K Program

In-person learning-The pre-k program is not affected by COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year. On August 31, we will continue to offer in-person learning while adhering to the SIP and Community Care Licensing guidelines. Families who choose to remain at home will participate in our virtual learning program.

K-6 Program

Secure a device for your child

The School has invested a significant amount of money and resources to support in-person and distance learning this school year. It is not feasible for us to provide a device for every K-6 student, so we will need your support on securing a device for your child. 

You may choose to use a device already in your home that meets the minimum requirements, or you may purchase a dedicated student device. If this is not financially feasible for your family, we have a limited number of devices available that you may borrow for the year. Please contact Jill at yunju.bao@shurenschool.org and she will reach out with further details.

We are not making any specific recommendations regarding which device is the right one for your family and child.  This is a personal decision.  We recognize that parents will be the primary tech support, so it should be something you are comfortable helping your child use.  

Whatever you choose, please ensure it meets the following:

Grades K-1: Required: 

  • Compatibility with Seesaw and Zoom Apps. 
  • Minimum 10” diameter screen. 
  • Touch screen. 
  • Rear and front camera & microphone. Wi-Fi capable. 8 hour battery. 

    Recommended: Keyboard (either built-in or bluetooth is fine). Stylus compatible.

Grades 2-6: Required: 

  • Compatibility with Seesaw and Zoom Apps. 
  • Minimum 10” diameter screen. 
  • Keyboard (either built-in or bluetooth is fine).  
  • Rear & Front camera & microphone. Wi-Fi capable. 8 hour battery. 

    Recommended: Touch Screen. Stylus compatible.

All of the devices listed below are compatible with all the minimum technical requirements for grades K-6.

...

Emergency Childcare

It has been confirmed that we are able to open one classroom for Emergency Childcare. We’ve already received emails from families who required this care. If you have to physically return to work on August 31 under the current Berkeley SIP and need childcare, please send an email to Alyssa at alyssa.senoren@shurenschool.org. We’ll include you on the list of families who will need essential worker childcare during the distance learning period.

 

Upcoming Events

Monday, August 24: 4:00-5:00 Virtual welcome Back Q and A with school leadership-More details will be available next week.

Thursday, August 27: 4:00-5:00 Virtual Meet the Teacher Q and A- More details will be available next week.

Friday, August 28: In-Person (students only) K-6 Meet Your Teacher Day-We’ve created a Meet Your Teacher schedule that fits within the parameters of local health and safety guidelines. Though not the same as our usual Meet Your Teacher Day, we are thrilled that our students will be able to come to campus on August 28 for small group gatherings. Times are staggered and more details will be available next week.

Kindergarten: 9:00-10:00
Grade 1: 10:30-11:30
Grade 2/3 12:00-1:00
Grade 4/5/6: 1:30-2:30

Risk Reduction at Home

In preparation for these in-person activities (meet your teacher day and pre-k return to campus), we are asking all families to begin a risk reduction lifestyle.  

  • Please limit your contact with those outside of your household. 
  • Wear well-fitted masks when outside of the home and keep six feet of distance from non-household members as much as possible. 
  • Learn and check each other for good handwashing technique and timing.
  • Choose not to go to that end-of-summer party; instead, spend quality time with your family unit, engage in outside and distanced activities, and use technology to connect with friends.
  • The home-school partnership is critical and the choices you make now will help reduce the risk of symptomatic or asymptomatic viral spread. 

This is not the start of the year we were all hoping for.  However, we remain united in our goal of resuming in-person education as soon as safely possible. We will continue to advocate for the Academic Camp option, as well as the school waiver when that becomes available. Together, we are building resiliency and modeling it for our children. It’s clearer than ever that we are living in a changing world and education that connects, inspires, and deepens our thinking is critical. Our teachers and staff are putting together an academic year that will go beyond the ordinary - wherever we learn from.  

As always, I am here to answer your questions.

Warm Regards,
Rebecca

--

Rebecca Zipprich
Head of School
Shu Ren International School / An IB World School

August 7, 2020

Dear Shu Ren Community,

I am writing to give you the latest update on our return to school this fall. For our Pre-K families, we are operating under the assumption that we will continue our on-campus learning while adhering to the SIP and Community Care Licensing guidelines. We have been implementing this modified Pre-K program very successfully since mid-June.  For our Elementary families, on August 3, the California Department of Public Health released the COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Elementary Education Waiver Process. The document provides guidance for local health officers (LHOs) to consider when reviewing Elementary Education Waivers that would allow elementary schools to open for in-person instruction under specified conditions. This additional guidance follows Governor Newsom’s announcement on July 17 that schools in California would not be permitted to open for in-person learning if located in a county on the state watch list. 

After receiving this latest guidance we immediately contacted the Berkeley and Alameda County Local Health Officers (LHO) to apply for the waiver. We were disheartened to learn that Berkeley/Alameda County is not accepting any waiver applications at this time and they have put the process on hold until local indicators improve and the county is removed from the state watch list. This is particularly frustrating to us, as we have been open for in-person learning for the past eight weeks for Pre-K and Grade K-3 summer school students and we sincerely believe that we can provide a safe and healthy on-campus learning environment for our students and teachers. We have developed, piloted, and are fully ready to implement safe in-person learning.  We are ready to submit our waiver application for in-person learning as soon as the Alameda LHO is accepting them.

We are so grateful for your trust and support as we navigate uncharted waters. The ongoing uncertainty in our lives is deeply unsettling for us all.  We talk a lot at Shu Ren about how the strength of our community sets us apart from other schools, and it has been an honor to witness this among our students and families these past months.  Building on that trust and spirit of cooperation, we want to share with you the various avenues we are pursuing to safely return students to in-person learning and/or care on August 31.

Our Plans

While our first choice would be to receive a waiver from the Alameda LHO, we are working on several potential “Plans B”.  The plans, outlined below, are being pursued in tandem.  However, as you will see, with each of them there are limitations and hurdles to implementation.  This is why we consider them Plan B, not our first choice or ideal scenario. 

Academic Camp Plan: We are currently offering in-person summer school camps for students in grade K-3 and are following the youth extracurricular activities guidelines published in the latest City of Berkeley Shelter in Place Order.  We will continue to run academic camps beginning August 31. More details on that option will be available before school starts. 

Limitations: Based on the current City of Berkeley Shelter in Place Order we can continue to offer camps for Elementary students. However, we are mindful that the current guidelines are for summer school and may be subject to change. If new guidelines are issued and they are more restrictive, we may not be able to continue running these camps.

Childcare for Essential workers Plan: If we have to reopen with the distance learning plan and cannot offer academic camps, we will provide childcare for children of essential workers on campus. More details on that option will be available before school starts. 

Limitations: We are consulting with local health agencies on any limitations.  

Family Plans

We are doing everything possible to support in-person learning and care at Shu Ren, but there is a high possibility that Elementary students will begin the school year in distance learning. If you have to physically return to work on August 31 under the current Berkeley SIP and need childcare, please send an email to Alyssa at alyssa.senoren@shurenschool.org. We’ll include you on the list of families who will need essential worker childcare during the distance learning period.

If distance learning appears to be the only option for Elementary students’ return to school, we will provide our family details of that plan by August 21.

For our Pre-K families, we are operating under the assumption that we will continue our on-campus learning while adhering to the Berkeley SIP and Community Care Licensing guidelines.

We will continue to keep you updated on current developments, as well as our plans and preparations for the start of the school year on August 31.

Be safe. Be strong. Be together.

Warm Regards,
Rebecca

--

Rebecca Zipprich
Head of School
Shu Ren International School / An IB World School

July 24, 2020

Dear Shu Ren Community,

Last Friday I shared the State’s latest document on reopening school this fall: “COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year.” The Framework provides that schools may reopen for in-person instruction at any time if they are located in a county that has not been on the county monitoring list within the prior 14 days. Alameda County is currently on the monitoring list, but that may change over the coming weeks. 

The Framework provides a waiver process, in which a local health officer may allow elementary schools to open for in-person instruction. Last Friday, we immediately contacted the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) to apply for this waiver and have since been in contact with the Berkeley Health Department, as well as attended meetings with the Alameda County Office of Education(ACOE) and ACPHD.  We have been told that Alameda County is waiting for more information from the State regarding waivers, and is therefore not currently issuing any waivers. We will continue to pursue an in-person waiver from ACPHD.

We feel we have a strong argument for receiving the waiver. First, we have developed and implemented a robust safety plan. Second,  we are currently offering in-person instruction for our pre-k and G1-3 summer school students. Third, we have a relatively small student population and large facility relative to other schools.  However, we still have to prepare for the possibility that the school year may start with distance learning for our K-6 student population. If this occurs, we are fully prepared to offer on-campus childcare options for families who have returned to work under conditions identified in the Berkeley Shelter In Place Order (SIP). 

We have worked tirelessly to reopen for in-person learning in the Fall and we are still hopeful that this will be a possibility. Our team will continue to be responsive and adaptive to the challenges put before us, as we persevere to create learning scenarios that are in the best interest of our students.

Next Steps

  • Continue pursuing a waiver from our local health officer.
  • Continue dialogue with Berkeley and Alameda Public Health Departments to explore all possibilities for safely reopening under the current SIP.
  • Continue planning for both distance and in-person learning scenarios.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support. As we continue to navigate unchartered waters, we have to believe that together we can get through this. As always, I welcome your questions, concerns, and suggestions, as we journey forward. 

Kind Regards,

Rebecca

--

Rebecca Zipprich
Head of School
Shu Ren International School / An IB World School