Safe On-Campus Instruction at EBGIS
Just days after EBGIS transitioned to remote learning in mid-March, we started preparing for a safe return to in-person instruction. Our students have been safely back on campus since August and have resumed regular instruction.
Transitioning and Planning
Sound planning along with nimble and timely adaptations to changing circumstances have allowed us to provide our students with an uninterrupted, top-flight education while also meeting the needs of our working families and ensuring the health and safety of students, staff and families.
In the spring, our successful Remote Learning Program offered a full day of live and interactive video instruction, one-on-one teacher meetings, and on-call learning support using state-of-the-art educational technology. Because of our quick and seamless transition to the online format, our students stayed connected to friends and teachers, maintained a healthy daily rhythm and experienced no learning loss. At the same time, we developed best-in-class health and safety procedures and readied our campus for a safe return to in-person learning.
By June, our Early Childhood and Summer Camp programs were back on campus – safely – under a health protocol that met and exceeded government guidelines. In August, we resumed on-campus operations for all our students as permitted by state and county small cohort guidelines.
When all K-6 schools in Alameda County were permitted to open on October 13, we continued instruction in small stable cohorts under the Covid safety procedures that we had already successfully implemented months before. Our detailed reopening plan and safety procedure is available here.
Upgrading Campus to Protect Health
To best protect the health of our students, staff and families, we made major upgrades and changes to our physical plant:
- Additional Early Childhood Classrooms: Three rooms were fully renovated for use by our Early Childhood Program to allow instruction in small stable groups. We currently have three dedicated preschool classrooms and three dedicated kindergarten classrooms.
- Multi-Station Handwashing Sinks: We installed three multi-faucet no-touch (knee paddle operated) handwashing stations on campus. Those sinks are located in the main lobby area, in the passageway between the grades classrooms and the lunch area, and on the northern side of campus near the sports field. This allows frequent handwashing by all students and staff without wait time and without having to enter the restrooms.
- Availability of Sinks, Soap and Sanitizer in All Classrooms and Break Rooms: Sinks, soap and hand sanitizer dispensers are available in all classrooms and staff break rooms.
- Additional Dedicated Outdoor Space for Early Childhood Students: We created additional outdoor areas for our Early Childhood Program, allowing groups to spend more time outdoors while maintaining separation between groups. The gated front yard of the preschool mini-campus now features a new garden and activity area for preschool students, adding over 500 square feet of outdoor space. An additional outdoor garden area on the southwest side of campus has also been dedicated for use by Early Childhood students.
- New Outdoor Classrooms. We added multiple outdoor classrooms featuring natural tree stump seating with cushions, outdoor whiteboards, and shading. We also added a new garden for use by our grades program.
- Filtration and Ventilation. Each classroom has HEPA air filtration, an HVAC system equipped with MERV 13 filters, and window fans providing constant fresh-air circulation. When outdoor air quality is reduced due to wildfire smoke, circulation of filtered indoor air is increased.
- Additional Staff Break Rooms: We now have separate break rooms for Elementary School, Middle School and Early Childhood faculty to allow distancing and avoid large-group, in-person faculty interactions. We continue to hold all-faculty and all-staff meetings online via our Teams platform.
- Reconfigured Grades Classrooms. All grades classrooms have been reconfigured providing widely spaced seating to allow for physical distancing.
- New Videoconferencing Equipment and Upgraded Network Infrastructure. Each grades classroom features upgraded videoconferencing equipment with a large conference room screen in the back of the room and Logitech Meetup conference room cameras, allowing students who cannot join class in person to participate live from home, such as when the daily health self-screening shows possible symptoms. We also upgraded network connectivity in all classrooms to provide for a smooth remote classroom experience for children unable to join in person.
Working Together to Stay Safe
Our entire community is working together to minimize the risk of disease spread. Our Covid safety protocol sets forth the procedures and expectations with which we protect ourselves and one another. This protocol is revised at intervals to reflect changes in governing regulations as well as evolving best practices.
Procedures which are now part of our daily rhythm include the use of face coverings by all staff and by students in kindergarten and the grades, and in preschool as appropriate based on children’s readiness; daily health self-screening by all staff and families with app-based reporting; additional on-site health-screening and temperature checks for everyone who enters campus; staggered drop-off and pick-up times using multiple dedicated entrances and exits; physical distancing at drop-off, pick-up and during the school day; small stable cohorts of students; regular outdoor teaching; frequent handwashing; regular asymptomatic testing of all faculty and staff; increased cleaning and ventilation; ongoing disease prevention training and education for staff and families; and many others.