The Healdsburg School is a K-8 school, waiver to reopen only applies to grades K-6
After securing a waiver from the county and state health departments The Healdsburg School — a private K-8 school — is set to reopen to its K-6 students on Monday, Nov. 2.
The waiver only applies to grades K-6.
The school is one of three private schools in Sonoma County to have recently received the green light to reopen despite the county’s purple tier virus status, the most restrictive tier in the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system, “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” that limits the operation of many indoor non-essential businesses and activities.
Sonoma Country Day School in Santa Rosa and The Presentation School in Sonoma also both received the OK to reopen. The Presentation School welcomed back students last week on Oct. 21.
Andy Davies, head of The Healdsburg School, said the state approved their waiver application on Oct. 19 and the county health department notified them early last week that they could reopen.
“It was a long process,” Davies said of filing the waiver. “Part of that was because the county needed to get to a certain number of cases per 100,000 before public health can actually consider the waivers and it wasn’t until mid September when our numbers started to approach that.”
Students will be arriving at school in staggered times in order to maintain stable cohorts and reduce student mingling. Student lunches and recesses will also be staggered.
K-2 students will arrive first in the morning and once settled, third through fifth grade students will be dropped off and will attend in a hybrid model where some groups of students are in class on certain days and the other half attend class on separate days.
Sixth grade students will attend school five days a week.
“That’s how we’re rolling it out,” Davies said.
COVID safety protocols
The school has implemented a strict series of student and staff protocols in order to best protect the campus community.
All students must complete a symptom health screening at home prior to their arrival at school. If students have any symptoms then they must stay at home and may participate in distance learning.
“We’ve impressed upon our families that if their students have any symptoms they need to stay home,” Davies said.
Upon arrival, all students’ temperatures will be checked before they disembark from their car. Once on campus students will wash their hands and must do so every two hours before and after snack and lunch time. All students must also wear a cloth facial covering throughout the day that covers both their mouth and their nose.
Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the campus and stable cohorts of 12 will be established for each classroom in order to allow for safe six-foot-social distancing.
Davies said they will also work to make use of outdoor learning spaces as much as possible as weather allows.
In terms of cleaning and disinfection, all high touch surfaces will be disinfected throughout the day and bathrooms will be disinfected twice a day. Classrooms will be cleaned daily and teachers will clean frequently touched surfaces in the room multiple times throughout the day.
“We’ve really amped our ability to clean and disinfect the campus thoroughly and quickly. Also our school, like some other schools in California, does not have any interior hallways so we have really good airflow in our classrooms and we can open our windows and doors and we have air purifiers in all of our rooms,” Davies said.
If a student becomes ill during the day they will be isolated in a designated room where a staff member will attend to the student in full personal protective equipment. A parent will be called immediately to pick up the student and seek medical advice. The family of the sick child will be required to report any medical findings to Tanya Bruno, the school’s certified contact tracer and director of operations.
If a student or staff member has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 they will be required to contact Bruno who will work with the Sonoma County Public Health Department and follow contact tracing protocols in order to determine the level of exposure. The individual will be directed to contact their medical health professional to determine the appropriate timing for getting a covid test.
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, then the following protocols will be triggered, according to the school’s return to campus plan:
● The cohort will be closed, and the director of operations will communicate with
● All families of students and staff members of the cohort will be notified with a
● A letter from the Head of School will follow the call stating that a student or staff
member in the cohort have tested positive. Letters do not disclose any personally identifiable information of student/staff.
● The director of operations will conduct contact tracing and inform public health.
● Students and staff will quarantine for 14 days from date of last known contact. The
director of operations will provide Sonoma County guidelines on quarantine.
● The director of operations will collaborate with the entire cohort of staff and
students to ensure each individual has access to testing.
● Further testing of family members may be advised based on cohort test member
● Throughout the process the director of operations will provide any, and all,
information to public health and follow any guidelines provided by public health.
Staff health and safety requirements
Healdsburg School staff will also be required to complete a health screening before their arrival on campus. They will also complete a temperature check upon arrival.
The school will also require surveillance testing and every employee will be tested each month.
Getting back to in-person learning
Davies said thinking about the wellbeing of the whole child was one of the primary reasons for wanting to reopen school.
“I think all people who go into education are interested in the wellbeing of the whole child and for a lot of students, having that ability to connect with real life human beings is critical for their social and emotional development and mental wellbeing, and for many kids in an educational perspective it is just more effective in person,” she said.
Davies added that they do have some families who are choosing to keep their kids home.
“We are committed to providing a robust remote program for those students as well,” she said.
For more information about the school’s reopening, visit: https://thehealdsburgschool.org/covid-19/, or check out the PDF of their reopening plan on the sidebar.