Campus News and Updates
The arrival of the Novel Coronavirus in late 2019 and its rapid spread throughout the United States and California in 2020 forced Kirby School to adjust almost every aspect of operation. Our community pivoted to a Distance Learning program nearly overnight, a feat of creativity, resilience and adaptability for everyone. Even as California re-opens aspects of its economy, there are still a great many unknowns. The situation continues to change day to day. We appreciate that transitioning back to school comes with uncertainties and challenges. We are committed to welcoming your children back to school safely and supportively. Check out our Reopening Plan as a visual document.
July 6th Reopening Plan announced
July 24th Reopening Plan update
July 31st Community Zoom with Head of School
August 1st Online Registration begins; Student Schedules shared
August 14th Online Registration closes
August 10th-14th Students may pick up materials from school (schedule will be provided)
August 17th First day of school
October 9th Plan for the second half of the semester announced
October 16th Kirby will remain in Distance Learning mode at least until this date.
This page was last updated on August 3, 2020 at 1:19pm.
- Our Approach
- Our Families' Role in Returning to Campus
- Decision Making Strategy
- Risk Levels
- Health and Safety Practices
- Cohorts and Response Scenarios
- Investment in our Community
- Community Expectations
- Final 2020-2021 Block Schedule
- Academic Office Contact Information
Kirby School will begin the school year in Distance Learning mode, with all classes being taught remotely.
As our county case counts have risen dramatically over the past few weeks, we have been guided to begin the school year in a “high” risk level.
Our plan is to remain in distance learning mode until at least October 16th. We will communicate whether or not we will remain in Distance Learning Mode for the duration of the semester by October 9th.
Our goal is to ensure that our students have community, play, and socialization to look forward to, even though we are in a Distance Learning model. This is of vital importance to the emotional and psychological health of our students.
During the first half of the semester, we will continue the work of preparing our campus in anticipation of welcoming students back to the building. In the meantime, it is a high priority to offer more engagement and community-building opportunities than this past Spring.
Student Council has worked throughout the summer to plan fun and informative All School Meetings. Faculty have leaned into professional development over the summer to increase our capacity to deliver our high quality curriculum through online tools, making lessons more activity-based and engaging.
Our new 10-block schedule has dedicated tutorial time so that students may connect with a faculty member outside of class to ask questions, work through assignments, and explore ideas in a smaller group or one-on-one setting.
We moved our learning management system (how students view their schedules, assignments and grades) to a new Kirby Portal to improve their overall educational experience. Links to where they are supposed to be will be at their fingertips. They can print their daily schedule with ease!
Students will receive their schedules on August 1st and you will be able to log in and see your student’s schedule on the new Kirby Portal then.
On the same day, we will also make our required online registration available to you through the new Kirby Portal. Short videos which we will share with you will help you and your student navigate the new Kirby Portal with ease.
As a school that prides itself on supportive instructional relationships between teacher and student, Kirby School acknowledges that the ideal learning environment is in-person. However, balancing the health and safety of our community, including students, faculty and staff is of paramount concern. Our plan for the year is a balancing act; striving for the ideal, being flexible, while maintaining careful attention to the guidelines provided to us by local, state and federal health agencies.
As we have seen this spring and summer, circumstances remain in a state of near constant fluctuation. Our plan builds in strategies to maneuver between two states, a Hybrid Learning Model and Distance Learning, while adhering to or surpassing health and safety guidelines provided to us by federal, state and local officials.
We are poised and excited to reconnect with our families safely and with renewed vigor for the coming year. And as always, we remain committed to the intellectual, psychological, physical and interpersonal well-being of our students and look forward to welcoming them back to school and on campus when it is safe.
Families play an important part in the health and safety of our community. Your role in our plan to return to campus is to keep a child home if they are sick and to notify us immediately if your child or anyone in your household is sick. Person to person transmission of COVID-19 is the greatest source of exposure in our county. Keeping sick children at home helps us protect our community. We are implementing many strategies to ensure continuity of access to classes for students who must remain home. We all have a responsibility to prevent the spread of this disease. If you have questions or concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do not anticipate reaching this level this school year / this level is largely dependent on an effective vaccine and herd immunity.
Unlikely to be reached this school year. Low risk is largely dependent on an effective vaccine and herd immunity.
No social distancing guidelines in place / no cohorting requirements.
Infection number is low in Santa Cruz County and the curve is flattening.
No Kirby community cases of COVID-19.
Follow mandated health orders by Federal, State or County Health Agencies.
Closure will be recommended if there are multiple cases in multiple cohorts or when at least 1% of the total number of teachers/students/staff test positive or display symptoms within a 14 day period or as recommended by the Local Health Officer.
When in Hybrid Learning mode, we will:
Follow Guidance from Health Officials When On Campus
- Kirby will conduct direct or indirect health checks every morning (direct=use a wand thermometer to take temperature, indirect=survey students)
- Require masks that comply with County Health orders for students and staff.
- Install Plexiglas barriers across campus.
- Hand sanitizer stations in all classrooms.
- Install Touch-free faucets in bathrooms.
- Put Plexiglas barriers in classrooms.
- Convert drinking fountains to water bottle filling stations.
- Upgrade HVAC filters.
- Use Thermal scanners for touch-less fever detection.
- Provide PPE for staff and students.
- Ask parents to assess their student’s health in the morning and not send their student to school if they are feeling unwell.
- Provide health screening guidelines at the beginning of in-person classes.
Conduct Intensive Cleaning
- Stairway railings and door handles will be sterilized throughout the day.
- Students will be given cleaning materials to wipe down their desks if they move between spaces / supervision provided to ensure this is done properly.
- School will be cleaned thoroughly between cohort on-campus days.
- Sterilize bathrooms on a regular schedule, and as needed.
- Follow EPA recommended guidelines for cleaning products.
Encourage and Remind our Community of Personal Hygiene Practices
- Encourage hand washing and covering mouth and nose when sneezing.
- Increase signage and messaging to help remind our community to practice good personal hygiene.
- Add dual sink hand washing stations for crowding prevention.
Follow Physical Distancing and Risk Reduction Best Practices
- Stagger in-person student arrival and departure to reduce crowding.
- Create one-directional pathways through the halls to control movement and limit opportunity for exposure.
- Designate bathrooms for particular cohorts.
- Limit simultaneous bathroom occupation.
- Offer bathroom breaks during class rather than passing periods to avoid crowding.
- Limit the number of on campus visitors, no tutors on campus.
- No outside facility rentals (we are not sharing our space).
- No off campus privileges.
- Students will no longer share computers.
- Utilize the Recreation Area and roof deck as much as possible for outside classes.
- Offer a school lunch program with individually packed, pre-chosen meals (order one week in advance) rather than buffet-style which will be eaten outside or in classrooms (to keep cohorts together).
Kirby School will follow the county guidelines with regards to creating groups of students called cohorts. The county defines two types of cohorts: a “stable group” and a “distancing group”.
Following these guidelines will help us reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, facilitate switching between a Hybrid Learning Model and Online Learning with minimal disruption, simplify contact tracing should it become necessary, and facilitate one-directional pathways, and staggered arrivals and departures.
During Hybrid Learning, only 50% of our students on campus on any given day.
- 6th grade groups of 12 or fewer students
- 7th grade groups of 12 or fewer students
- 8th and 9th grade
- 10th, 11th and 12th grade
6th-9th grades will be on campus on Tuesday and Thursday during Hybrid Learning.
10th-12th grades will be on campus on Wednesday and Friday during Hybrid Learning.
Mixed-grade level classes will only be offered in person where sections can be separated by cohort.
Group cohorts’ lockers together.
In addition to the health impact, COVID-19 has also had a significant financial impact on our community. We have made and will continue to make investments to safely deliver our high quality program while maintaining educational continuity of our community for the duration of this pandemic and beyond. Our per student investment in program, technology, and health and safety measures exceeds $2,000 per student and includes:
Hardware required to successfully implement distance learning.
PPE for employees and students.
Thermal scanners for fever detection.
Plexiglass barriers and partitions.
Touch-free faucets in bathrooms.
Hand sanitizer stations in all classrooms and offices.
Converting drinking fountains to water bottle filling stations.
Amplified cleaning practices and the specific products necessary to conduct those practices.
Upgraded HVAC filters.
The addition of health personnel and Wellness Center on campus.
The addition of sections to optimize the flexibility of our academic program for hybrid/distance learning.
In addition, we have increased our allocated tuition assistance funding by nearly 35%--over $400,000--so that families experiencing a financial setback due to Coronavirus have the option of continuing their education here.
Beyond these investments, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our faculty and staff. In an effort to retain our employees, we have had an across-the-board salary freeze and cut operational expenses where we were able.
All members share the responsibility to prevent the spread of a communicable illness within our community. By enrolling your child at Kirby School, you agree to the following requirements:
Follow Federal, State and Local Health Orders. We expect you to comply with directives issued by state and local governmental health departments, including the CDC, regarding social distancing in public and other measures imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Testing and Notifications. If you suspect your child or someone in your household has COVID-19, you will have them tested and notify Kirby School within 24 hours.
Stay Home if Sick. If your child is sick, keep them home from school. Our wellness policy will be shared over the summer.
Stay Home if Exposed. If someone in your household has been notified that they were in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, notify Kirby School within 24 hours. Depending on the situation, you may be asked to keep your student home for 14 days. We will provide access to classes via distance learning.
Limit Travel. Please avoid unnecessary travel and if anyone in your family has traveled outside the state of California and tested positive for COVID-19, you must keep your student home for 14 days. Distance learning program will be continuously available.
Temperature checking. Kirby School staff will check temperatures regularly using a wand thermometer and if your student has a temperature of higher than 100F, they will be sent home. We expect you to come and pick them up within a reasonable amount of time.
Face Masks. Ensure your student comes to campus every day they attend in person classes with a face mask. Face masks with valves will not be permitted. Santa Cruz County Face Mask Order.
Hygiene. Practice and reinforce good hygiene practices at home, in particular, the importance of frequent handwashing.
Students’ Personal Items. Limit the items your child brings onto campus each day and reinforce policies around the sharing of food, supplies and other items with other students.
Medical Forms and Emergency Contact Information. Parents must complete and submit all required student medical forms prior to the first day of school. Parents must provide at least 2 emergency contacts who are able to pick up your child from the School within one (1) hour of receiving a call from the School if your child presents with a temperature or becomes ill during the school day.
We have been advised to remain flexible in planning for the upcoming year. Health and safety restrictions are likely to change and evolve. To best support educational continuity, we are adopting a new 10-block schedule for the 2020-2021 school year.
Whether in Distance Learning (all classes taught online) or a Hybrid Learning Model (some in-person classes with synchronous online classes and some online classes) a 10-block schedule helps us achieve several goals. It will:
- Facilitate creating cohorts of 12 or fewer students, to create acceptable in-person class sizes.
- Make it easier for us to, without disruption to learning, move seamlessly between medium and high risk levels, isolate cohorts who may have been exposed and contact trace, if necessary.
- Enable us to provide the same variety of courses we had planned to offer prior to the pandemic.
We have added an advisory program that will serve as another point of contact to support students’ well-being and success. Advisories offer small groups of students a dedicated pair of staff members that will foster healthy discourse and decision making through a dynamic, student centered curriculum.
Academic Office Contact Information
Accommodations & Learning Differences
Will Personal Protective Equipment be supplied?
Yes, the state is offering us a 30 day supply. We may receive more and will update you on details as they are provided.
Will we be taking student temperatures?
Yes. We have purchased thermal scanners and plan to take temperature at the beginning of the day.
What other safety protocols is Kirby initiating?
We will have handwashing stations set up at entrances to clean hands when arriving at school. High touch surfaces will be cleaned throughout the day. Water bottle filling stations will be available--we are converting drinking fountains to hydration centers. We have upgraded our HVAC filters to create even higher air quality. We are hiring a dedicated health staff member who will serve as on site Wellness Center manager and health communicator, in the case of an exposure. We will use our SMS messaging system to communicate exposures or risk of exposure to COVID-19. The Wellness Center will be located on campus in a space where we can safely isolate a student should they feel ill while they are on campus. We will open more doors to create more ways to enter the building (so we don’t create high density bottlenecks). Desks will be cleaned between use by students with support from staff.
Will the school require that masks fit well enough that they don’t slide down the face, requiring frequent touching or repositioning?
Masks must cover both the mouth and nose. We will follow the county health order issued by Dr. Gail Newel with regards to masks and will enforce such orders to the best of our ability. We expect families to help with this as well. Our community’s safety is our top priority and your partnership in compliance is essential.
Will cloth masks with valves be prohibited?
No masks with valves that allow unfiltered exhalation will be allowed.
Is it possible to stagger the schedule for different grades so that hall traffic is minimized?
We are considering staggering schedules but because of our small size, this will mainly be focused on breaks. We are small enough that staggering doesn’t have to be significant, for example, a minute or two per grade. Considering that about only 100 students will be on campus at a time, and we are creating single direction traffic in halls, we will have a lot of social distance in passing spaces.
How are we making decisions about in person vs online classes?
Please see the Decision Chart in a panel above. Aside from that, the younger the student, the more in person classes they will have. We want to minimize screen time for our younger students, to reduce screen fatigue. Determinations will be made in higher grades based on the educational goals of a department and health accommodations for teachers.
Will some classes be held outside, weather permitting?
Which days will high school and middle school students have class on campus?
We are following city schools scheduling to best support our staff who also have students in local schools. City Schools has selected Monday as a virtual learning day, and we are following suit. We are calling Monday our Flex Day. Every student will be at home on that day. Tuesday through Friday we will alternate who will be on campus and who will be learning online. 6th-9th grades will be on campus Tuesday and Thursday and 10th-12th grades will be on campus on Wednesday and Friday. See draft schedule. Online classes will be available at exactly the same time as in person classes happen so that students who need to be at home can continue to learn at the same pace and time as their in person peers. See draft 10 block schedule.
Is there a reduction in contact time with the 10-block schedule?
Our goal in creating a new schedule was educational continuity and safety. We approached the schedule with the intention of maximizing online opportunities in order to make the most out of in person classes. This prompted us to rethink how we structure class time and what happens in the 85 minutes of our normal classes. In an 85 minute class, in addition to the direct lesson, there was a built in opportunity for student centered time, when the teacher would be available to answer questions, perhaps roaming through the classroom to offer individual attention. By pulling the student centered time that normally happens in an 85 minute class out and putting it into tutorial and office hours (which actually helps students who are uncomfortable raising their hand for help in a Zoom meeting) we are able to deliver the lesson as well as provide one on one time. We also took into consideration the emerging evidence indicating that 85-minute long online classes are too long.
Will there be an on-site orientation prior to the first day of fall semester?
No, we will not host an in person orientation. We also decided that instead of a virtual event that providing a series of videos to help navigate the new Kirby Portal would be more useful. These will be delivered in early August.
WIll arrangements be possible for early drop off or late pick up of students?
Yet to be determined. Our ability to cohort and contact trace is compounded by this. We will follow county guidance and will do our best to support parents but will follow guidance.
When will we receive our child’s class schedule and when and how do we learn about math placement?
We anticipate class schedules being available the last week of July. There are many things changing that affect our class schedules. Our commitment is dependent on how the rules change. Math placement questions can be directed to Lawrence Shin, Academic Dean at email@example.com.
Will the cafeteria be open?
Yes, when we are in a Hybrid Learning Model, but meals will be ready made and not buffet style. Lunch volunteers is something we’re working on but don’t have the details yet as these are determined by health protocols.
What is Kirby's plan for retreats?
Unfortunately due to health restrictions, we do not have a plan to offer retreats in the early fall--at least not until we are off of the County Watch List for 14 days. Our goal is to offer local, one-day class experiences later in the fall and potentially longer retreats in the spring.
Will there be 0-period classes, like dance company?
We’re trying to figure out how to get them into the 10 block day but this is to be determined. It is a high priority but we don’t know yet.
Will there be study halls and how will they be managed?
Yes, but because study hall tends to be a larger cohort we will move it to either the Great Hall or Cafe to have physical space to create social distance. And we would like everyone to bring their own device. We will provide students access to WIFI. Study Hall will not be a break period when students go off campus. We will have a closed campus to reduce risk of exposure, meaning students are not permitted to leave campus during the day.
Do students need to bring their own device?
We would like all students to have their own device. Students on financial aid will be handled differently but we would like families to provide their students with a device. We are putting together a list of specifications for laptops.
Will there be PSAT opportunities?
We are trying to do this but it is still unknown. It is important to us and if we can, we will.
When will the Kirby Portal be available?
We are preparing a possible student orientation which will include an introduction to the Kirby Portal before school starts. We will provide an update to this plan in the late-July Back to School packet. Teachers will also walk students through their class pages in the first days of school.
Will there be letter grades?
Yes, we will offer letter grades this coming school year consistent with our grading policy. Pass/No Pass will not be an option.
Will There Be In Person Classes?
We will begin the school year with all classes being delivered through Distance Learning. We are prepared to offer in person classes through a Hybrid Learning Model after October 16th, if health authorities deem it safe for us to do so. How many in person classes a student will have will depend on the health status of the cohort they are in and on the individual student. If a student wants, needs or is required to be at home, in any risk level, they may continue to take the same classes as they would have in person.
Please use this form to ask questions about plans for the coming year. We will address questions at the next Community Zoom meeting on July 31st*, hosted by Head of School Christy Hutton.
(*This meeting was moved from July 24th to provide our community with an opportunity to review our Return to Campus Update, available on July 24.)
- What is Coronavirus?
- How does it spread?
- How do I reduce my risk?
- Anti-stigma Resources
- Coronavirus Resources
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Sydrome (SARS). The novel coronavirus, now named COVID-19, is a new strain that had not been previously detected.
Read information from the World Health Organization.
The CDC believes that COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets--from coughs or sneezes--produced by an infected person and inhaled or landed in the mouths or noses of a non-infected person. The virus most likely spreads when people are in close contact with one another (less than 6 feet).
It may be possible that it can be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth or nose or possibly eyes.
Tolerance Magazine provides resources for understanding and confronting the rising xenophobia in connection to the coronavirus.