20-21 Back to School Planning

Updated July 29, 2020

Live Oak continues to plan for the 20-21 school year in order to respond to the uncertainties brought about by the public health pandemic while holding the care and concern for our students, our staff, and our families at the center. The following are the guiding principles that focus our decision-making:

  • Live Oak is committed to the health and safety of our students, our faculty and staff, our families, and our broader community. Live Oak will adhere to guidelines regarding school openings and closures as established by the Center for Disease Control, the California Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Public Health Department, and the California Association of Independent Schools.
  • Live Oak students social-emotional well-being and educational potential will be best served when our school can safely reopen for in-person learning.
  • Live Oak’s educational program, whether experienced in person or remotely, will be designed to support the potential and promise of each student while advancing equity, promoting diversity, and deepening inclusion in our school and broader community.

Conditions in the school and local community will change over time. Our planning for the school year anticipates changes in the community conditions and associated changes in our environment for learning (in-person, remote, hybrid). As we move through the school year, we will capture the educational opportunities that are provided by improvements in the local health conditions while attending to the need for consistency and stability in our students’ educational experiences. We intend to evaluate the community conditions routinely and to establish the learning environment for a duration of three weeks, unless otherwise directed by public health officials. We will make a decision regarding the first 3 weeks of school on August 5.

Currently, the community conditions are at a Level 4 and indicate that we would begin the school year with the remote School from Home program.

Program Scenarios

Everyone, Everyday: an on-campus Live Oak program with preventative measures in place to mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19. Available for all students, for full days, five days a week.


Branches Program: a remote learning program to be scheduled for students or families experiencing vulnerability to COVID-19 so that they can learn from home while Everyone, Everyday is taking place.

School from Home: a remote Live Oak program for an entire class/grade or the entire school when a portion of or the whole campus needs to close due to conditions related to COVID-19.


Frequently Asked Questions

Unlike other counties, San Francisco has yet to define the application process for such a waiver. We will review it as an option as soon as it is released. As part of their process, other counties are expecting that schools demonstrate that the school community supports the application for the waiver. We would want that to be true at Live Oak as well. At this time, an improvement in local public health conditions is one of the top priorities of our staff as they anticipate a return to in-person learning.

Live Oak is required to meet the guidance for school reopening established by state and local public health officials. As soon as the San Francisco Health Officer allows for school reopening and Live Oak is able to meet conditions established by public health officials, we will begin reopening our campus. SFUSD will be working toward reopening as well but Live Oak may be able to do so sooner than other public, parochial, or independent sites.

Live Oak’s professional community engages regularly with the planning and preparation for the school year ahead. We have discussed the eventual return to campus since we moved to remote learning in March. Feedback from our faculty and administrative team has been integrated into our current set of plans for the 20-21 school year. A recent staff climate survey to gauge comfort with in-person learning helped us plan for additional protocols to increase the level of comfort. Staff who are vulnerable to COVID-19 or in a household with someone who is vulnerable are being accommodated in our planning.

California is requiring the testing of school employees for a return to in-person learning. Testing may be a condition for returning to campus after an exposure or a confirmed case of COVID-19. Live Oak will comply with current state and local public health guidance regarding our testing requirements so as to adopt community practices that contribute positively to the local response and containment of the coronavirus pandemic. Beyond those advised by public health officials, Live Oak will not adopt testing requirements as a preventative measure if such requirements unduly tax the supply of testing available for vulnerable populations, groups with a higher risk of exposure, and people with symptoms.

As we move through the school year, we will capture the educational opportunities that are provided by improvements in the local health conditions while attending to the need for consistency and stability in our students’ educational experiences. We intend to evaluate the community conditions routinely and to establish the learning environment for a duration of three weeks, unless otherwise directed by public health officials. Live Oak students in the Branches Program would commit to that model for three week sessions as well.

As is typical, student groups will be grouped heterogeneously based on input from our faculty, school counselors, and learning services team. Following guidance from public health officials, class size will be reduced to 12-16 students per section and assigned to homerooms that allow for physical distancing. We may consider changing groupings during the school year if this does not compromise the health and safety of our community and if we believe this would be beneficial to our students social and educational growth. Class sections will be finalized by our faculty in mid-August and announced to families the week of August 17.

Live Oak’s learning services team is adapting its plans for student support to reflect guidelines from public health officials and the different program scenarios. Our Student Resource Group will continue to be actively engaged in supporting our students, our faculty, and our families in knowing students well and in implementing a program that best supports their learning. More information regarding these programs at different grade levels will be shared closer to the start of the school year.

Live Oak will build upon our past successes with virtual community and student life rituals, traditions, and activities as we plan for the 20-21 school year. These spaces are sources of joy and support for our students and our school community. Time for them will be built into our students’ schedules and our school calendar.

We have not finalized the schedules for in person learning but we are currently expecting the campus to be open for students from 8am to 4pm with a staggered schedule for arrival and pick up in the first and last 45 minutes of the school day. Live Oak will activate 4 doors for entry and exit in order to allow for social distancing at arrival. Families will be assigned an arrival and dismissal time with a process to adjust in order to accommodate the use of public transportation or plans for biking/ walking to school. We will not be able to host an in person Extended Care program at the beginning of campus reopening plans, though we will continue to monitor that optionality over the course of the year. Additionally, our Extended Care team is evaluating options for virtual programs before and after school.

Yes, we will plan to maximize the use of outdoor spaces for class activities and lunchtime, including the Rooftop, the Courtyard, and Jackson Park. We will invest in supplies that support the use of these spaces for teaching and learning. Faculty will help us to work these plans into the students’ weekly schedules.

Live Oak’s faculty and Program Leadership Team have been actively involved in professional development throughout the spring and are continuing this summer in order to build upon the strengths and address the challenges in last year’s School from Home program. We have adopted new schedules in lower school and middle school that are optimized for remote learning, setting a cadence for our students’ school days that balance synchronous and asynchronous lessons with attention to our students’ academic and social emotional development. We are selecting consistent learning platforms and tools best suited for our students’ developmental age. These will be deployed in a new one to one program that feature device upgrades that improve ease of use and connectivity. As is typical, our faculty will work on program development through the start of the school year and present detailed plans for curriculum content and learning goals in back to school events for parents.

Our Live Oak faculty have the expertise we can rely upon to create school and classroom communities that hold our students accountable to health and safety routines and protocols. Our faculty will work with students to understand routines, to practice their implementation, and to understand the consequences and impact of behaviors that do not meet expectations. Live Oak will add signage to classrooms and hallways to prompt safety routines like face coverings, physical distancing, and hand hygiene. We will aim to do this with the joy and playfulness that helps our students achieve our shared goals.

Yes. As Live Oak implements practices and procedures to ensure our safe and healthy return to school for our teachers and our students, our efforts will only be effective if the families in the Live Oak community are aware of and responsive to public health guidance as they conduct their lives outside of school. For this reason, Live Oak asks all members of our community to take actions that demonstrate their responsibility to their own wellness and the wellness of others. Students, staff, and parents will be asked to agree to a set of COVID prevention measures when out of school that will include limiting social mixing outside of the family, adhering to face covering and physical distancing guidelines when out of the home, completing and reporting established daily health screening, self-quarantining following exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19, staying home when sick, and observing routine medical practices including annual check-ups and vaccines.


Future Communications

Throughout this process of planning, Live Oak is committed to open communication with our community. In addition to email messages and information posted to the Family Portal, Live Oak will host virtual meetings for parents/guardians every other Friday to provide updates regarding our reopening plans. Our next event will be held July 31 from 3-4pm. Please complete this form to submit your questions by Thursday, July 30 at noon.