Back to School from Home
August 5, 2020 Dear Live Oak Parents and Guardians, Twenty years ago, I had my first day at Live Oak School. I was a third grade teacher and the year wasn’t beginning as anyone had planned. That summer, the school had expected to move to its new home on Mariposa Street but the old coffee factory wasn’t quite ready. So, we pursued alternative plans. I arranged my classroom around the kitchen in the staff room and got to know my colleagues as they warmed their meals. The library was moved into the Grand Hall and became a community hub. Teachers wound carts of supplies through corridors crowded with moving boxes. The spirit of the back to school season and the gathering of the Live Oak school community delivered all the joy and creativity we needed to start the year, despite the change in plans. This year’s back to school, whether you’re new to Live Oak or an old friend, will also have an unexpected twist. Public health officials in San Francisco and in California have determined that the community health conditions are such that if schools reopen for in-person instruction at this time, they may contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the area. Live Oak values this guidance and believes that it is our responsibility to take actions that counteract the spread of the virus. School from Home We will begin the 20-21 school year with Live Oak’s School from Home Program from August 26 through September 21. A schedule for virtual Student and Parent Orientation events is forthcoming. If at any point between now and September 21, we are given the permission to bring students to campus or to gatherings off-site, we will do so, prioritizing the return of our youngest Live Oak students and those for whom School from Home creates the greatest challenges. On September 4, we will review community conditions and determine the structure of the program for the second three weeks of school. Belongings Boxes We know that Live Oak students will need certain resources to support their participation in School from Home. Live Oak faculty will prepare a Belongings Box for each student to be used during School from Home and to be returned to campus when we reopen. Families will not need to purchase any back to school supplies for their Live Oak students. Belongings Boxes will be available for pick up on August 24 and 25. A schedule is forthcoming. Class Assignments Students will receive class assignments the week of August 17. At that time, families are invited to begin building virtual connections amongst the students and parents in their class. Several parents have asked for the school’s guidance on the formation of ‘learning pods’ for small, in-person gatherings during School from Home. While we appreciate the resourcefulness and positive intentions behind this strategy, Live Oak cannot organize or support ‘pods’ for several reasons:
- In order to counteract the community prevalence of COVID-19 and contribute to public health conditions that would allow for schools to reopen for all of our children, local and state officials advise against indoor gatherings and they draw our attention to patterns of household spread in the transmission of COVID-19 to children.
- Families may not have the resources, feel comfortable, or have been invited to form a pod, and this may cause feelings of exclusion, especially for our students who may see or hear of their peers congregating and learning together while they remain isolated.
September Update for School Reopening
September 10, 2020 On Tuesday, September 8, the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced that improvements in local health conditions have led them to lift the orders that required the closure of school campuses for inperson instruction, as long as public health conditions remain stable. They also indicated an interest in a phased reopening of K-12 schools over the next 6 weeks, beginning with elementary grades, then middle grades, and finally high schools. The directive from SFDPH changes Live Oak’s community conditions metric to a Level 3 and we are now preparing to implement Tree House, a program for our students that blends the best of School from Home with part-time on campus instruction. In order for Live Oak to implement this change, our Prevention and Mitigation Plans, our schedules for a phased campus reopening, our students’ weekly schedules, and our site readiness need to be reviewed and approved by SFDPH. We have set this process in motion by submitting health and safety plans that reflect SFDPH guidelines and center our guiding principles. If our plans are approved, Live Oak students in grades K-3 would begin a part time return to campus the week of September 29. Fourth and fifth graders would have their first day on campus the week of October 5. In the following three weeks, we would implement a phased, part-time, inperson return of our middle school students. When granted approval for reopening, we will be able to share more details about daily and weekly schedules, including arrival and dismissal schedules. We are grateful for the quality of the School from Home program that has been designed and delivered by our Live Oak faculty to start the 20-21 school year. We see our students building relationships, engaging in purposeful work, and contributing wisdom to our world! Tree House, a program that blends School from Home with inperson instruction will help us to realize the best of both worlds!
After school sports for students in fifth through eighth grades include cross-country, volleyball, basketball, and futsal. Coaching focuses on skill development, good sportsmanship, and leadership, while providing a positive opportunity for social and group interaction. Live Oak competes against other San Francisco independent schools.
Jackson Park is home to our organic garden, a shared neighborhood resource. Using the garden as a classroom, our curriculum includes regular urban farming activities and a second-grade farm stand unit. Our goal is to highlight and deepen the connections between food, health, and community.
Equity & Social Justice
With our Equity and Social Justice standards, we strive to build community through empathy and encourage students to demonstrate social justice leadership. Students recognize and analyze bias, as well as understand the histories and values of diverse cultures, and the effects of positive and negative stereotypes.
Technology is carefully integrated into the curriculum. Beginning in the Lower School, students gain instruction in computer essentials and practice thinking like programmers. Chromebooks are provided to all middle school students for reading, research, and the completion of homework.
Middle school students may opt into the Science Extension program and work on a wide variety of independent projects, including robotics, VR game design, anatomical modeling/sculpture, and much more. This program is an elective during the school day and is offered after school several days per week.
The Live Oak School library program fosters enthusiasm for reading and helps students become discerning consumers of information. Staffed by two professional librarians and supported by a team of dedicated parent volunteers, the library offers a large and comprehensive collection open to all students, faculty, staff, and parents.
Connecting with the community allows students to explore societal issues while engaging in concrete experiences to effect change. Projects include recycling, food pantry volunteering, clothing drives, and an ongoing partnership with The Family House. We host a family service night as well as a schoolwide Day of Service.
High School Guidance
Bringing a combination of academic achievement and active citizenship, our students are sought after by competitive schools; most are accepted into the school of their choice. Families are supported throughout the placement process, and students arrive at high school prepared, enthusiastic, and ready to take on new challenges.
Twice a year, Live Oak middle school students stage a full play geared for the enjoyment of San Francisco families. Students have the opportunity to choose an on-stage performing role or a backstage theater tech role, which fosters a high level of enthusiastic participation. These performances are open to the public and sell out every year.
Middle school students meets weekly in a grade-level advisory group, comprising one faculty member and 12 students, to discuss topics relating to school and/or their personal lives. The Advisor acts as each student’s advocate and is the primary contact for parents regarding academic, social, and disciplinary matters.
Every grade and middle school section is responsible for preparing and running two assemblies per year. Middle schoolers gather monthly in the Grand Hall on Wednesday mornings to share interests, class projects, special events, and presentations from guests. Lower school assemblies are held every Friday morning.
Field trips are planned at every grade level to enrich the academic program. Beginning with weekly field trips in Kindergarten and culminating with an eighth-grade trip to Washington, DC, students in every grade experience the ways in which lessons at school have relevance beyond the classroom walls.
Student Resource Group
The Student Resource Group is a collaborative team of administrators and members of the learning services and counseling offices that meets regularly to ensure that teachers, administrators, parents, and specialists work together to effectively support our diverse range of learners via positive interventions and holistic strategies.
Middle School Electives
Students take a once-a-week rotation class each trimester to explore an area of interest for focused study. Class choices vary every trimester, and include options such as yearbook, literature studies, urban farming, soccer, library, math support and homework helper.