July 23, 2020
Good Evening RCS Community,
Watch the video for a summary of this email:
Four Phases, in Summary
The CDC has published Considerations for Schools which encourages decisions to be made based upon the level of risk. The “Rebuilding RCS” plan includes four phases of returning to campus in a pandemic, each with a growing level of risk:
The central concept for the “Rebuilding RCS” site plan is based upon “ COVID-19 School Guidance: Alameda County School Reopening Plans ” and the Alameda County Reopening Plan . Four phases of instruction, with varying risk, will be implemented to provide the highest standard of Christ-centered academics while adhering to the necessary safety guidelines issued by these governing bodies. 
Four Phases, in Detail
Phase One: Virtual Education

RCS is currently in Phase One Virtual Education until Alameda County has achieved 14 days in a row of not being on the County Data Monitoring list or if another “shelter-at-home” order is issued by either Alameda County or the State of California.  

Phase One will utilize best practices from, but be different than Online Distance Learning (ODL) (in March-May, 2020):

  1. It will be a full school day (RCE 9am-3:30pm; MS 8am-2:40pm; HS 8am-2:50 pm)
  2. Will include live classroom instruction by students’ teacher(s) like in a classroom, but viewed online
  3. While RCS will again utilize Zoom conferencing software like in ODL, it only offer ONE Learning Management System for all grades, TK-12 (Schoology). 
  4. In each live instructional blocks, teachers will be teaching and interacting with students throughout the school day (instead of selected appointments). 

Furthermore, Phase One will continue to offer a Christ-centered, full academic program and continue to provide individual student support and resources, as needed. 
Phase Two: Small Cohorts

When Alameda County has reached 14 days in a row of not being on the County Data Monitoring list, RCS will immediately transition on day 15 to Phase Two which allows for every student to be on campus, all day, every day. 

Phase Two includes students assigned to a stable cohort, with physical distancing of 6-feet within a classroom. It is a greater risk than Phase One because students will be interacting with some other students (but controlled to only those within their assigned, stable cohort). Teachers, with proper use of personal protective gear, rotate in and out of a cohort. One of the largest benefits of the small cohort model is, in the case of COVID-19 exposure or suspected exposure, only individual cohorts will be sent home for quarantine and virtual learning. With this model, the entire school will not have to be shut down and go into quarantine because exposure will be limited and controlled.

In addition, in Phase Two, families who are concerned about sending their child(ren) back to campus, students who are sick, and students (or cohorts) who have to go into quarantine due to exposure/confirmed case of COVID-19 will receive instruction from their teacher(s) virtually via Zoom.

In Summary:
  • Cohorts stay together exclusively for four weeks (after four weeks, some cohorts may be adjusted). 
  • The average RCS cohort will be 15 students, depending upon room size and the number of students per grade level. 
  • Because the cohort size is smaller than the typical RCS classroom, RCS will be using approximately 1.5 times more classrooms (at least 58 cohort classrooms will be needed). 
  • All students on campus will receive a combination of live instruction and instruction via Zoom, while students at home will receive all instruction via Zoom. 
  • For example: If there are four-second grade cohorts, Mrs. Benefiel would be in charge of two cohorts (A and B) and Mrs. Haserot would be in charge of two cohorts (C and D). Mrs. Benefiel starts teaching live, in-person with Cohort A while Cohort B (with an instructional aide) and any student at home watches the lesson live via Zoom. After the lesson ends in the classroom and Cohort A teacher support is received, Mrs. Benefiel and the aide will trade places. For the next lesson, Mrs. Benefiel will teach live, in-person to students in Cohort B and while Cohort A (with an instructional aide) and any student at home watches the lesson live via Zoom. Mrs. Benefiel and her instructional aide will switch back and forth between the two classrooms several times a day. Students at home will receive support via Zoom, email, and phone, as needed. 

Due to the need for increased student supervision of cohorts, some electives and enrichment classes will be either reduced or eliminated because these teachers will be needed to be working with cohorts.  To staff the (estimated) 58 cohorts with an qualified adult in each cohort/classroom, almost everyone working at RCS will spend a portion of the day teaching and supporting students. After the number of students who will be on campus vs. online is known for certain, we will then be able to provide a more definitive response to electives and enrichment classes. Furthermore, more details about cohorts, instructional methods, and electives/enrichment programs will be released until August and will vary by campus.
Phase Three: Classroom Cohorts
Phase Three will be when RCS can enlarge the cohort number to a “normal”/pre-pandemic classroom size and reduce the number of rooms used, with more risk involved due to more students being together. 

  • At RCE, teachers will return to having one classroom of students.
  • At the MSHS, teachers will return to having a classroom of students per period.
  • Movement of students will still be limited, and students will still spend most of the day inside their classroom to minimize the potential exposure and spread of COVID-19.
  • Teachers will also be able to be more mobile (within yet to be determined guidelines from the CDC, State of California, and Alameda County). All enrichment and elective classes will also return.

Like Phase Two, Phase Three, families can opt to receive instruction from their teacher(s) virtually via Zoom.
Phase Four : Return to Normal

"Normal" will be like “the good old days” pre-pandemic, and it will have the highest risk because it will have the most interactions. The goal for our return to school is for everyone to be as safe as possible, following the best practices, guidance, guidelines, and requirements from the CDC , the State of California , and the County of Alameda , as well as professional organizations such as the American Association of Pediatrics . RCS will be an even better, safer school due to new hygiene habits/procedures and campus improvements made to clean and disinfect more effectively!
Virtual and On-Campus Class Schedules
The first three phases will have the same daily schedule in order to establish a set routine for school day, regardless of the mode of instruction. To address parental concerns identified from the surveys sent out this summer regarding instructional time on Zoom from last year, the administrative team has worked to establish a schedule to maximize instructional time into 30-40 minute blocks for direct instruction, five days per week for students in the classroom or virtually via Zoom.

  • At the MSHS, the new schedule will be nine, 40 minute periods. To allow for staggered start times, the MSHS will start at 8am and end at 2:50, with MS students dismissed at 2:40 and some HS students being able to arrive at 8:50 and others being able to leave at 2:05.
  • Furthermore, each student will have two Advisory periods, under the guidance of their cohort leader, to work on completing homework and zooming with teachers for help. One of the goals for this new schedule is that the vast majority of homework be completed during the school day.  

  • At RCE, the school day starts at 9:00am and ends at 3:30pm (with RCE being on two campuses, there is not the need to have staggered start and end times).
  • During the first week of August, each elementary grade level will work together to finalize and publish their class schedule into these 30-40 minute instructional blocks.
FAQs
Here are three frequently asked questions from my last email:

  • Once Alameda County is off the County Data Monitoring list and we go back to school, is there a chance that the county can shut us down in the future and we have to go back to Phase One - Virtual Learning?
  • No, RCS will be able to remain open.  Once students return to campus (our Phase Two) the California Department of Public Health Reopening Framework states a school will not have to close even if the county goes back onto the County Data Monitoring list. 
  • Futhermore, RCS could transition to Phase One - Virtual Learning if either Alameda County or the State of California issue a new "shelter-at-home" order. In addition based upon the California Department of Public Health Reopening Framework, RCS would temporarily transition to Phase One if 25% of cohorts are sent home for COVID-19 symptoms. 

  • How will the cohorts be chosen? 
  • The cohorts will be chosen just like classes have always been assigned, by the administration in conjunction with faculty input.

  • Would it be possible to have a child transition back and forth between on- campus/at home when RCS begins Phase Two (and Three)? 
  • Yes, students can request to transition back to campus and we will honor this request as soon as space is available. Likewise, one of the benefits of "Rebuilding RCS" plan is to provide a synchronous learning environment where students will be able to learn either from campus or at home.

Conclusion
RCS acknowledges that there are many more specific details - schedules including the amount of time live on Zoom, supply lists, health screening protocols/procedures each day, etc. - that need to be discussed and implemented for all Phases. Yet, the RCS School Board and Administrative team are waiting for the faculty to return from summer break in order to finalize the day-to-day specifics.

Why? Because the day-to-day decisions will be best planned in collaboration with faculty input. The RCS faculty are faithful experts who know their curriculum, how to best work with students, and they will be making decisions for both every day of the upcoming school year. These day-to-day decisions will, of course, follow the guidelines and orders issued.

In addition, day-to-day specifics will vary based on campus, even by grade level in some cases. Come August in your back-to-school packet, more specific details will be provided.
RSVP for a Zoom Call with Dr. Hearne
Join me on Wednesday, July 29 at 10:00 am on a Q&A Zoom call for RCS Parents about the Rebuilding RCS Plans and Scenarios. I will be happy to answer any questions on your mind or help to clarify any details about Rebuilding RCS!
Future Updates to be Released:
III. Student and Employee Health and Safety
IV. Cleaning & Sanitization
V. Social and Physical Distancing
VI. Classroom Examples
VII. Quarantine Protocols
VIII. Traffic Flow and Signage 

Urgent questions? Please feel free to email me anytime by replying to this email.
In Christ,

Al Hearne II, PhD
Superintendent