Announcements from Head of School, 7/23

Dear Palm Valley Community,

It is my continued wish that this message reaches you and your family while you are healthy and in good spirits. Following Governor Newsom’s announcement last Friday regarding the re-opening of schools in California (https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-schools.pdf), we have received many phone calls and emails concerning its impact upon Palm Valley School. Since there seems to be some misinformation and a variety of interpretations that exist, I felt it prudent to communicate where we stand today in regards to our ongoing planning for the upcoming school year. Though, admittedly, quantifying the uncertainties of this pandemic and its effects is an elusive target!

Governor Newsom’s announcement impacts K – 12th grades at all schools, both public and private, including Palm Valley School. We are therefore required to adhere to the listed guidelines before we can re-open our school. However, we are of the belief that his recent requirements for re-opening do not apply to our Preschool program, grades PK and below. We are therefore, still planning on opening our Preschool as planned on August 26th. His announcement did allow for individual schools to request a waiver for grades K – 6th from local health officials. Since we still believe that child learning and development is best served via in-person instruction and our unique campus layout positions us well under the CDC and CA Department of Education guidelines, we will be attempting to secure such a waiver. As I believe that many were caught unprepared by both the announcement and the possibility of a waiver, we are seeking additional guidance as to the waiver process and will keep you informed of our progress.

Your children’s health and safety and the well-being of our staff remain our primary concern. It is for this reason that we have instituted limited class sizes for the upcoming school year in addition to the expected health screenings and requirements. Keeping our enrollment below capacity ensures our ability to maintain healthy protocols and keeps our commitment to you to exceed health official and governmental recommendations during the pandemic should we be allowed to physically re-open. This has caused us to quickly achieve full enrollment for some grade levels. Soon, we will be forced to close certain classes and begin instituting a Wait List, as we are quickly nearing our optimum levels of enrollment. 

As the possibility of Distance Learning remains, we are providing significant professional development opportunities to our 2nd – 12th grade teachers to enhance and improve our online instructional delivery. While we transitioned well to our online platform four months ago, we want to use that experience to magnify student engagement and academic learning. We also remain committed to offering our Hyflex Learning Option (synchronous online learning with additional teacher support) for the entirety of the school year to help support all of our Palm Valley families during this crucial time in our history.

We have seen that things remain fluid and subject to frequent change. Never before have the important ideals of flexibility, adaptation, community, and partnership been so important. To that end, look for additional information and updates from me next week. 

As always, I remain available to connect via email (ssherman@pvs.org), phone or if you’d like, feel free to schedule a “socially distanced” meeting by contacting Sarai Jimenez (sjimenez@pvs.org).

Warmly,

Dr. Steven Sherman
Head of School