Campus Closures Announcement - Distance Learning Mode
Our campuses will be closed to students as of 6:00p on Friday, March 13: teachers will ensure that all children bring home any necessary materials when they leave at the end of the day.
Beginning on Monday, March 16, we will implement our Distance Learning Plan (DLP) for students on both campuses. Students will transition into full distance learning mode by Wednesday, March 18.
We will then move our school’s spring break one week earlier in the calendar – it will now take place during the week of March 30 – April 3.
Our campuses will remain closed and we will continue distance learning mode through Friday, May 1.
Check back for updates on our campus closure.
How will TBS communicate with parenting adults and faculty/staff in the event of an extended campus closure?
Families will be notified by email from the Head of School and through TBS’s emergency system, SwiftK12, by email and text. TBS will continue to use the same channels it employs for regular day-to-day communications with families and faculty/staff. All of these systems are remotely accessible and will function in an emergency situation. They contain tools that will allow TBS to ensure that all parenting adults are receiving important communications.
Are the systems employed in the Distance Learning Plan the same as those used during normal school operations?
Yes, TBS’ systems are already built on cloud-based systems, including Google G Suite. That means these systems will continue to work from anywhere in the world, even during an emergency. TBS’ data is not physically hosted on the school’s network, which means we can continue to use our systems during a crisis, even if buildings are damaged or our campus is inaccessible. Finally, each of our primary systems has multiple administrators, so they can be managed remotely (from anywhere, online) by more than one person, in the event that a system administrator is out of contact or unavailable.
How can students and parenting adults contact teachers during Distance Learning mode?
Please check the Distance Learning Office Hours page for Middle School faculty office hours.
Parenting adults can email at any time and get an answer within 24 hours. But if they want to chat in real time (via email, hangout, etc., it is only during those office hours.
Will students receive "core arts" instruction during Distance Learning mode?
Students will also receive Core Arts activities posted on classroom blogs (K-3rd) or Google Classroom (4th-5th) by 9:00a according to this schedule.
I'm a TBS parenting adult and my family needs tech support to participate in Distance Learning.
Technology support will be available from 9:00-6:00p Monday-Thursday and 9:00a-5:30p on Friday to provide support to faculty, students, and parenting adults, and provide the necessary support and recommendations for effective technology usage. Please contact email@example.com and let us know the nature and level of urgency of your problem.
What should I do if my child is too ill to participate in Distance Learning?
Please be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org if your student is absent for the day from distance learning, so that teachers are not expecting students to be online for classes.
How can I share videos of my child's learning with the teachers?
Families wanting to send teachers videos of their children working at home should use Google Drive.
If you don’t have a gmail account, we recommend using an easy and free site called We Transfer. It will ask you to set up an account, but you can click the “no thanks” option and use it without an account to send videos and files up to 20GB.
Which school events & activities have been impacted?
As you know, we have moved into distance learning mode and both of our campuses are currently closed to students, families, and faculty.
We have modified, rescheduled, or cancelled a number of school events and activities in an effort to promote the health and safety of our community during this time. Every event scheduled during Distance Learning Mode, now through April 7, has either been cancelled or rescheduled.
Warehouse Party Benefit (3/28): RESCHEDULED to May 30
Middle School Play (3/12 & 13): RESCHEDULED to a future date
MAP Growth Family Education (3/17): RESCHEDULED to a future date TBA
8th Grade Costa Rica Trip: CANCELLED – 8th grade families will be notified of our alternate plan for the students
Spring Break: RESCHEDULED – Our Spring Break was previously scheduled to take place April 6-10. We will now be on Spring Break March 30- April 3.
I'm concerned that a member of my family could have COVID-19; what should I do?
Pleasae contact the COVID-19 Response Team here at TBS.
Head of School Mitch Bostian Discusses COVD-19 with Kindergarteners
for Parenting Adults
April 2, 2020
I hope that you and your family have gotten enough of what you need this week to help it feel like a break. The TBS team has been hard at work to launch Phase 2 of Distance Learning Mode on Monday.
As you are likely aware, on March 31, 7 Bay Area county health agencies issued updated orders for residents to continue sheltering in place, extending through May 3.
TBS is prepared to continue in Distance Learning Mode as long as necessary, and simultaneously remains ready to re-open our campuses when that becomes possible (and advisable).
At this point, Berkeley K-12 schools have received no specific directive from the state, county, or city to close campuses past May 3.
Communication from the governor, state superintendent of schools, and Alameda County Office of Education over the past two days has implied that public schools will continue in distance learning mode until the end of the school year. In light of this evolving situation, school leadership and the Board of Trustees COVID-19 Response Committee are actively monitoring and evaluating directives and guidance from local, county, state, and national public health authorities.
Tomorrow (Friday), all families will receive a communication from your child(ren)’s division head with details about Phase Two of our TBS Distance Learning Plan, which begins on Monday (and reflects extraordinary effort from teachers, division heads, and Director of Teaching and Learning Sima Misra). And beginning next week, you’ll receive short daily email updates from me at 4PM, with a longer update on Fridays.
Thank you for continuing to see and support each other in so many ways. Our children are watching us, and learn deeply from the kindness and compassion we show each other during this time. Let’s continue to keep our students – and each other – at the center as we move forward into April!
Take care – we miss you!
P.S. In case you missed it, our Extended Day teams created this Videopalooza collection to carry you and your children through this week with messages of friendship and the opportunity to learn something new. Check it out!
March 25, 2020
We have just learned that public health officers from all seven Bay Area counties have made a unified, regional decision to extend school campus closures through Friday, May 1, to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to the maximum extent.
TBS will obviously comply with this guidance and remain in distance learning mode through Friday, May 1. Our campuses will continue to be closed to non-essential personnel until a new order is given.
In the last month, we’ve all gotten practice in hearing, adjusting, and responding to unexpected news. And while practice makes progress, we also know that progress doesn’t lessen the impact when that news first hits.
We want you to know that TBS is here for you. We have been preparing for just such a scenario. And we’re ready.
Our distance learning leadership team will incorporate this new development into our ongoing implementation of the ECC-8 Distance Learning plans. And the TBS Board of Trustees and our administration and faculty will continue working to plan forward for the health, safety, and strength of our school.
Join me for a Zoom presentation this Friday, March 27 at 1:30p, where you will hear from me and our team about TBS Distance Learning plans following next week’s Spring Break on April 6. A video recording will be available for community members unable to join us live.
We at TBS, the administrative team, faculty, and trustees, are deeply grateful for your ongoing support and partnership on behalf of all students.
Let’s keep seeing and supporting each other! We miss you and your children, and we are all in this together.
March 15, 2020
We hope your weekends have had enough social distance for you to keep yourselves and others safe, enough social interaction for you to feel connected, and enough room for all the things that matter most to you and your children.
As we head into our first week of “TBS At A Distance”, we want to remind you that ECC-8 teachers will be working hard on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s roll-out of our Distance Learning Plan. Please check classroom blogs and emails for updates as that preparation continues. And thanks in advance for the sharing of ideas and learning resources that we already see happening among families on both campuses.
Your responses to our Family Technology Survey really helped us gauge our community’s readiness to learn at a distance, and we think we were able to meet everyone’s needs by the end of the day on Friday. However, if you’ve discovered that you don’t have the technology or materials your child will need to access age-appropriate distance learning, please reach out to our division heads: Kathy Duhl (ECC), Bliss Tobin (grades K-5), or MaryBeth Ventura (grades 6-8). They’ll see what we can do to help.
Since we know that a connected community is the true “crucible” of civic engagement, we are planning multiple ways that our school can help children and parenting adults stay safely and consistently connected – at safe social distances – during the next few weeks. Some of those efforts will be coordinated by TBS staff members, and others will be coordinated by community volunteers who have stepped forward with ideas, skills, and/or just a desire to help out.
We teach our children that doing things for other people is one of the best ways to relieve worry and stay optimistic, and over the next few weeks, we encourage you to think about ways that you can leverage your interests and skills to fill in the gaps that appear when children and adults are more isolated than normal.
Are you ready to record your student as she demonstrates how to draw an army of fire dragons, or record yourself giving a “TBS Talk” on an area of professional expertise? Are you ready to offer some of your time on Zoom answering live questions from ECC students about outer space or hosting a Rubik’s Cube tutorial? Or would you prefer to spend some time curating a list of great video resources for people of all ages (like TBS alum parent Rion Nakaya has done with The Kid Should See This!)?
Start thinking – we’re all going to need each other’s help. And it’s a great way to model how we hope our children will think when times are challenging.
That’s all for tonight. Please stay in touch and take care of yourselves. Thanks for your support and commitment to staying together as we navigate through these weeks one day at a time.
March 12, 2020
Tonight, following two weeks of information-gathering, analysis, and professional consultation, school leadership and the executive committee of the board of trustees made the difficult decision to close both TBS campuses as of 6PM tomorrow (Friday, March 13). We will say more about that decision in later communications: for now, we want to make sure that you have the information you need as quickly as possible.
Our campuses will be closed to students as of 6PM on Friday, March 13: teachers will ensure that all children bring home any necessary materials when they leave at the end of the day.
Beginning on Monday, March 16, we will implement our Distance Learning Plan (DLP) for students on both campuses. Students will transition into full distance learning mode by Wednesday, March 18. Division heads and teachers will communicate with you tomorrow in more detail about that plan, and how it will look for students at various age and grade levels.
As of this writing, we plan to close both our campuses for three weeks. During the weeks of March 16-20 and March 23-27, we will operate school in distance learning mode. We will then move our school’s spring break one week earlier in the calendar – it will now take place during the week of March 30 – April 3. And while we are hoping to reopen our campuses in some form to students on Monday, April 6, we are making plans to evaluate the situation over the next two weeks and will be prepared to adjust that date as needed.
Please bookmark our Emergency Response page and check it for updated information about our response to this situation. We will also contact you by our emergency response system (Swift K12) as future developments warrant.
You’ll hear a great deal more from us in the next few days as we work to stay focused on your children’s learning and our community’s well-being. We are exploring every avenue possible to ensure that families in our community can help each other and stay connected during a strange, challenging time.
Thanks in advance for helping all of us see and support each other. Our children will learn deep lessons from the way we navigate the next months together. Let’s keep them – and each other – at the center as we move forward.
March 11, 2020
Dear TBS Families,
Here’s the latest update on our school’s response to the evolving COVID-19/coronavirus situation.
UPDATE: How TBS will support student learning in the event of school closure: Distance Learning Plan (DLP) prepared by Monday, March 16
REMINDER: Please review our current TBS attendance guidelines in determining whether you or your student should be on our campuses.
Current Public Health Guidance and TBS Response: The City of Berkeley (in coordination with Alameda County) has issued updated recommendations, which our response team is carefully incorporating into our planning and decision-making. We also continue to consult with public health and infectious disease professionals in our TBS community and in our institutional networks. And as we go forward, we will continue to focus on two key elements: our commitment to keeping children and learning at the center, and our civic engagement responsibility to make a positive difference in the well-being of the communities beyond our campuses, where TBS families live, play, and work.
Over the last two weeks, you’ve seen how our response looks. We proactively postponed the middle school play and rescheduled Friday’s UAC assembly, changed formats for smaller, on-campus events, and continued to implement on-campus hygiene and attendance protocols that allow our students and staff to work together.
TBS Distance Learning Plan Prepared by Monday, March 16: TBS is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the terms of that accreditation require us to meet or exceed a minimum number of instructional days for all students, with particular attention to students in grades 3-8. With this provision in mind, a core group of instructional administrators is developing a Distance Learning Plan (DLP) that would provide students and families with activities, assignments, resources, and feedback mechanisms appropriate to each student’s age and grade and aligned with our ECC-8 learning outcomes.
As I write, teachers and administrators are working through the draft DLP together and training on the various skills and delivery modes that would be required to teach, at a distance, in mission-aligned ways. I can’t say enough about the ways that their work models the “growth mindset” approach they take in teaching your children – their commitment and persistence are remarkable, but hardly surprising. Even if the DLP is never implemented, they deserve our deep appreciation and thanks.
FAQ links on the TBS Emergency Response site include:
- Who can be onsite at TBS campuses?
- What are the cancelled/postponed School activities?
- Is there a concern about food transmission?
- What are the TBS cleaning processes on both campuses?
- How will TBS support student learning in the event of school closure?
March 9, 2020
Thank you for your continued support of our school community. The TBS Response Team continues to be guided by public health agencies as we do our part to respond to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and we have some updates to share about our response, including…
MODIFICATIONS to guidelines for school attendance and on-campus presence
MODIFICATIONS to upcoming school events (and our decision-making criteria)
ACTION NEEDED: Complete the technology survey today if you haven’t already to support distance learning plans.
The California Department of Public Health has made changes to specific recommendations addressing who should and should not be present on school campuses. Read on for who can be onsite at TBS campuses: we’ll also post signage at each campus entry point to help visitors know our guidelines proactively.
If any of the following statements are true for you,
- please help us take care of our community
- by remaining off our campuses until none of them are true.
- I have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
- I have had confirmed, “close contact” with an individual who has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
- I have returned from traveling in any country identified by the Centers for Disease Control as “Level 3 Travel Health Notice” within the past 14 days (currently China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea).
- I have a temperature of 100.3 or more, or have had one during the previous 24-hour period (employees and students must be fever-free for 24 hours WITHOUT the aid of fever-reducing medication before returning to our campuses).
- I am in the first 48-hours of a regimen of antibiotic medication.
- I have a cold that is less than three days old.
- I have heavy or yellow/green nasal discharge or a constant cough.
- I am vomiting or have diarrhea.
- I have symptoms of a possible communicable disease (i.e. sniffles, reddened eyes, sore throat, headache, abdominal pain, or fever.)
If any of the first three statements are true for you, please let Mitch know directly as soon as possible – your prompt communication helps the response team work closely with public health officials to respond appropriately.
TBS Events: Public health officials recommend that schools consider limiting configurations in which students mingle on campus. In addition, schools are being asked to consider rescheduling or reconfiguring “large events” where people from multiple communities come together. With this in mind, please note the following schedule changes.
- Middle School Play 3/12 & 13: to be rescheduled to a future date
Basketball Game 3/10: cancelled
- All School Assemblies: to be modified
- Recess: to be modified
Going forward, our response team will continue to evaluate scheduled events and use a set of evidence- and recommendation-based criteria (see below) to determine whether to hold events as planned or modify them in some way.
- Public health agency requirements and/or recommendations
- Projected number of attendees
- Event location (proximity to areas of greater/lesser risk)
- Event space configuration
- Square footage
- Indoor versus outdoor
- Possibility of social distancing within event space
- Impact of decision on student learning
- Availability of alternate solutions
Additionally, as per CDPH recommendation, we’ve designated a “sick room” on each campus to minimize continued risk of exposure when students or staff members begin to display any of the symptoms outlined in our attendance policy.
TBS efforts to keep our community healthy related to cleaning practices continue as outlined below.
- For the last two weeks, our cleaners disinfect daily, and we have placed hand sanitizer throughout the school, in all classrooms, in offices, and at the front desks.
- All offices and classrooms have cleaning supplies to use to disinfect work stations.
- We ask that people substitute “elbow bumps” for the usual hugs and hand contact, and practice social distancing.
- We have advised all students and all staff members to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, particularly after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
- We have communicated with our hot lunch provider and they follow all CDC guidelines. Students wash or sanitize their hands before eating.
- Any ill employees and students are instructed to stay home, as per our handbook requirements.
Please contact us if you have questions or new information. Please take care of your own health and the health of your loved ones. And thanks for everything you do on behalf of students, families, and staff here at TBS!
March 6, 2020
It’s been affirming and reassuring to see so many parenting adults on our campuses over the last two days, engaged in family-school conferences. At a time when we are all learning to practice “social distancing,” those moments are even more valuable!
Although not much has changed since our Tuesday update, I’m writing to update you on our evolving response to the COVID-19/coronavirus situation. If you’re in a hurry, please start by filling out this Family Technology Needs survey – then read on to see why!
I’d like to introduce our TBS response team, which has been hard at work for the past two weeks. Director of Advancement Araxi Gundelfinger and I lead the team together: ECC Director Kathy Duhl, Director of Facilities and Campus Safety Tim Thomas, Director of Marketing and Communications Carmen Scott, Director of Teaching and Learning Sima Misra, and Director of Finance and Operations Amy Coty round things out, with K-5 Division Head Bliss Tobin and Middle School Division Head MaryBeth Ventura closely involved.
This team meets weekly (more as needed), and communicates very frequently with each other, teachers, and the administrative team to ensure that our planning, implementation, and responses are aligned with public health recommendations and our commitment to student learning and well-being. This team structure serves us well and allows our faculty to focus on your students!
The response team continues to be guided by explicit recommendations from government agencies (Berkeley Public Health, the state of California, and the Centers for Disease Control) as we develop, implement, and modify our practices, policies, and decision-making processes. We continue to benefit from a robust professional network of schools and professional associations – local, statewide, and national. And we are fortunate enough to have several individuals in our parenting community with deep expertise in public health and infectious diseases: their ability to distill information and provide evidence-based input with specific knowledge of our campuses and culture has made a tremendous difference in our ability to move forward with clarity.
Community Events and School Sick Policy & Attendance
Please continue to follow our guidelines for school attendance rigorously, erring on the side of caution whenever possible. When reporting an absence, please include your child’s symptoms.
Professionals have advised us that, unless public health agencies advise otherwise, those handbook guidelines (and the handwashing, sneezing and coughing, cleaning, and physical contact protocols we follow at school) are our best way to respond to the spread of this coronavirus in our community. We are delivering the same message to our students, and appreciate your continued support at home.
You may have noticed that we’ve rescheduled some upcoming community events. We are considering several criteria in making those decisions, including alignment with public health recommendations, amount of advance planning required, impact on student learning, “re-schedulability,” event space, distance from campuses, and number of people expected to attend. And we anticipate that the next few months will look, and feel, different on our campuses as we implement decisions based on changing data and find other ways to maintain community connection. We’ll continue to inform you about these changes through email, Newsnotes, and classroom blogs.
Distance Learning Preparation and Family Technology Needs Survey
Our faculty has been working incredibly hard to prepare for scenarios where students and/or teachers are required to be off-campus and/or isolated for extended periods of time. It goes without saying that teaching, preparing for family conferences, and ramping up for teaching at a distance is challenging work. Division heads are ensuring that K-8 teachers have time early next week to finalize plans and prepare materials to support student learning in a variety of scenarios. Online platforms (including Google Classroom, which we use in grades 4-8) have a host of features to provide richer distance learning opportunities. CAIS, NAIS, and ATLIS have created libraries of resources for schools to explore and use.
Most important, TBS belongs to multiple communities of schools and educators, both nationally and internationally, who are proactively sharing ideas and resources that align with our vision, educational approach, and curriculum. We’ve specifically partnered with two mission-aligned schools, both in San Francisco (The San Francisco School and Live Oak School) to create online spaces where preschool–8 teachers can connect directly, collaborate, and share materials.
In the event of a scenario where students are required to remain off-campus for extended periods, we are working to establish each TBS household’s level of access to the hardware and internet connectivity that distance learning will require. To that end, we are asking one parenting adult in each TBS household to fill out this Family Technology Needs survey, intended to assess our community’s level of access. Please make sure you respond by 5pm on Monday!
School-Home Information Sharing
If you have questions about anything related to TBS and COVID-19 or have information to share, please start by communicating directly to me rather than to teachers, administrators, the TBS Hub, or other TBS-connected entities – including whether your family is sick or may have been exposed to the virus. This practice will allow us to leverage the strength of our response team and decision-making protocols to ensure alignment with public health directives and guidelines, to communicate quickly and clearly, and to help TBS staff and parenting adults focus on keeping children and learning at the center of their daily work.
We think this is particularly important as news of COVID-19 symptoms in various spaces continues to develop. Families in our community live and work in interdependent ways, and we know each other well: as a result, the temptation to connect a piece of news to an individual’s profession, typical travel schedule, family structure, or place of residence can be strong. Please rest assured that families in our community are paying attention to public health guidelines, following directions, and communicating regularly with us if they have concerns or information to share. We can trust each other, and we will communicate with the school community quickly if there is any relevant news to share.
Thank you for your individual and collective support as we’ve navigated the past few weeks and grappled with what it means to be a school that emphasizes interaction and connection among community members during a time of heightened uncertainty. Your ability to keep your children at the center, partner with us, and respond to changing circumstances with grace and intentionality has been remarkable – but unsurprising. And our collective ability to maintain a strong partnership will continue to be our community’s compass as we navigate an unfamiliar landscape.
March 3, 2020
As the Center for Disease Control has emphasized, there is not currently a coronavirus pandemic in the United States. However, given how quickly the global situation is evolving, we are monitoring new developments, and will continue to reevaluate our plans and action steps daily.
As you may know, Berkeleyside has reported one confirmed case of COVID–19 in Berkeley. According to their article, it does not appear to be community-acquired. The person was concerned about exposure through travel and voluntarily self-quarantined.
We’re looking to the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and local public health agencies for the most up-to-date information and guidance. In addition, TBS belongs to two school associations (the National Association of Independent Schools and the California Association of Independent Schools), and both are working hard to ensure that schools have the most relevant school-specific information on a daily basis. Finally, we’re lucky enough to have parenting adults in our community with deep public health expertise. We’ll use input from all of these sources to inform our decision-making.
We also wanted to take this time to highlight systems and protocol we already have in place to keep our community healthy during cold & flu season.
School Surface Cleaning
On both campuses, all door handles, faucets, toilet handles, light switches, student work areas, and other places that hands often touch are wiped down nightly and disinfected.
All ECC-8 students must wash/sanitize hands before eating. While this was strongly encouraged before the emergence of COVID–19, we have now made this a mandatory practice, closely supervised by teachers.
- Practice good respiratory hygiene: cover up coughs and sneezes with inner elbows.
- Emphasize a “hands-free, no-touch face zone” of eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Ensure that everyone in your house washes hands frequently and thoroughly (20 seconds or longer), or uses hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
As noted in our 2019-20 Family Handbook, employees and students must stay home if any of the following statements are true for the individual…
- Has a temperature of 100.3 or more, or has had one during the previous 24-hour period (employees and students must be fever-free for 24 hours WITHOUT the aid of fever-reducing medication before returning to our campuses).
- Is on the first 48 hours of a regimen of antibiotic medication.
- Has a cold that is less than three days old.
- Has heavy or yellow/green nasal discharge or a constant cough.
- Is vomiting or has diarrhea
- Has symptoms of a possible communicable disease (i.e. sniffles, reddened eyes, sore throat, headache, abdominal pain, or fever.)
School Alert System
In the event that we need to communicate critical information about COVID–19 with our community, we will use our school alert system, which relays messages by email and by text. We will perform our next test of this school alert system tomorrow, Wednesday, March 4. On that day, every parenting adult should receive an email and a text message from The Berkeley School.
We are following CDC guidance and preparing for possible scenarios and will continue to communicate regularly with pertinent information.