Extended School Closure FAQ
The students' dismissal and remote learning plan is extended through Friday, May 29 in light of the latest recommendations from local public health authorities and shelter-in-place directives. In mid-May, we will communicate further on whether this date is confirmed or extended once more.
In late April, a Return To School Committee was formed to create a roadmap of essential actions to implement a safe, efficient, and equitable return to school, whether that will be in June or in September. Additionally, we expect to share our plans for the fall in mid-May. This committee will also consider the different scenarios for our summer camp that are currently being developed by Mirza Kopelman,
Our community is the heart of our school, and we want to do all we can to ensure it stays vibrant and strong through this crisis. To assist families who are experiencing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school launched the Ecole Bilingue Solidarity Fund. Donations to the EB Solidarity Fund will be used to provide emergency tuition assistance to support current and returning families experiencing unexpected financial difficulties; we will get through this together. As of May 3, close to $90,000 has been raised toward this fund. Learn more about the Solidarity Fund.
In addition, families returning and new to EB for the 2020-2021 school year who anticipate financial challenges related to the pandemic impacting their tuition payments, are invited to contact our Director of Business and Finance Antoine Portales at firstname.lastname@example.org. Antoine will assess your family’s present circumstance and identify the financing solution best suited for you. Now, more than ever, we stand ready to partner with you, as together, we help one another meet the challenges posed by this unprecedented global event.
If you have a question specific to your child please reach out to your child’s teacher or advisor. Please direct questions about distance learning in a particular division to the appropriate division director.
- Preschool Division Director, Magali Noth
- Lower School Division Director, Sebastien Robert
- Middle School Division Director, Richard Lyon
You can also contact our administrative team who is working offsite. Visit the school's Who's Who to see who is the best point-person to answer your question.
At this point, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in our school community. However there are declared cases in the San Francisco Bay Area including Alameda County. If you, your student, or someone in your home is being tested for the coronavirus, please inform the school of the test results. Ecole Bilingue will work with local public health officials to manage school safety protocol in the event of a coronavirus case within the school community (EB will not release the names of community members that report coronavirus test results.
Given the challenging circumstances, we will not be able to have Le Camp d’Eté this year. Because of its language-immersion approach, this camp relies on counselors from France, and given the current travel restrictions, they will not be able to attend. In addition, many of the places we take campers during weekly field trips are likely to be closed this summer.
For these reasons, we have decided to cancel the camp and fully refund all families who had registered. Refunds will be issued as soon as possible but may take a few weeks to process.
Option 1: School Can Reopen - Summer Care
If the shelter in place is lifted and the county and health departments give schools the option to reopen, we will be hosting a program for preschool through 5th grade. Our goals are to provide care for children and families during these difficult times and, as much as possible, exposure to French. Staffed by Enrichment supervisors and EB teachers, this program will have elements of our school-year camps with some instruction in French.
The strict social distancing measures EB will need to take to ensure the health and well-being of students and staff during that time will make spaces limited. Parents who signed up for package C (4 weeks of camp) or for Le Camp D’Été, will be guaranteed their spots for those weeks registered. We will be sure to implement an equitable solution to registration, in order to serve as many EB families as possible. We hope to run the camp for 8 weeks in total from June 22 to August 14, but cannot guarantee that at this time.
Option 2: School Can’t Reopen - Virtual Camp
If we cannot reopen our campus this summer, we will offer an online camp with the sole purpose of keeping students engaged with French learning. This academic-oriented camp will strengthen students’ French skills in preparation for a return to school in the fall.
We are currently working to price out these two options, with the intent to provide affordable pricing in support of our community. Our camp hours will be impacted by the health measures we will have to follow in order to keep both students and staff safe. Therefore, please anticipate that if we reopen, we will do so with limited capacity and limited hours.
Information about schedule, programming, and price will be shared soon, and a decision on which camp we will be offering will be communicated by Friday, May 15. Families will be able to register then.
EB is applying to the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP is part of the CARES Act which provides $2.2 trillion in economic assistance to American families, employees, and businesses. Borrowers--including 501(c)(3) nonprofits such as independent schools--can receive PPP loans.
EB is suffering losses related to ancillary programs and fundraising, given the fact that we did not have our major Spring fundraising events, such as the gala and the Fund for the Future, but that we are also reimbursing our parents for unused lunch programs, camps, packages, extended daycare, or overnight field trips. In addition, our expenses have not been reduced: we continue to pay all our employees, our debts, etc. Only some utilities, such as electricity, are going down.
Teachers are offering many different opportunities for exposure to French during our distance learning period including live Zoom sessions with the whole class, half class, small groups, individuals and open office hours. Teachers are also recording video lessons posted on Seesaw platform that students can review multiple times or when their schedule allows.
The Seesaw platform allows many types of language exchange in that the teacher can record videos and audio for students, students can respond with video and audio and the teacher can give audio feedback allowing multiple non-simultaneous language exchanges during the week. Teachers are also providing parents with many optional resources for increasing French exposure from educational websites to recommend YouTube videos. Teachers are focusing on essential skills during our distance learning period and French language development is at the top of our priorities.
Next school year there will be additional support provided for students who need French language development. While that extra support is already a part of our program, we will be increasing support as needed to account for any gaps created during this distance learning period.
You can also watch our head of school's video series of screen free activities for kids at home in French!
Practicing interpersonal skills with family members, siblings and even role playing with stuffed animals can help a child continue to build social skills. Setting up virtual playdates (with Zoom, Skype, FaceTime) can help children connect with their friends. However, be mindful that children often need guidance on how to interact with peers online--it's important that parents supervise these virtual chats and provide children with structure to guide their conversations such as a list of questions to ask and answer, or an activity that can be engaged in
Parent-Teacher conferences, which were supposed to take place in March, are postponed to June to allow teachers time to focus on the delivery of our remote learning program. We are currently assessing when and how to deliver the conferences. More information will be forthcoming.
Despite the campus being closed to students, teachers and staff have been working remotely since March 16. Every school day since the closure, our entire teaching team has been dedicated to providing distance learning instruction to their students. Meanwhile, administrative employees have been providing support to teachers, parents and students in order to ensure an optimal learning and teaching experience. Essential functions of the school are still operating such as enrollment of new students, assessment of financial assistance, bookkeeping or payroll.
Teaching and learning will continue and therefore Ecole Bilingue will continue to collect the annual tuition. Families who are experiencing an extreme hardship due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic should contact the Admissions Director, Manon Johnson, to receive information about Financial Assistance.
Families who have subscribed to the Tuition Refund Insurance are eligible for a partial refund if they choose to withdraw their children from the school for the duration of the closure. Note that:
- the student would be withdrawn for the rest of the school year and will not be an EB student anymore ;
- the student won’t have access to distance learning or help from EB’s faculty and staff ;
- the student won’t be able to come to school when it resumes ;
- the student would need to reapply to come back next year ;
- the insurance will cover 50% of the remaining tuition (for instance: April to June is about 25% of the year and roughly corresponds to $7,100 of tuition, reimbursement from the insurance 50% would be about $3,550).
In the weeks leading up to the school closure, EB's Technology department researched and tested several video conferencing platforms to facilitate a comprehensive distance learning plan. At the time, Zoom was the product with the best feature set. Several security issues were discovered and exploited rather quickly once it became the de facto platform for communication in the Coronavirus lockdown. The company has since rolled out a number of security features, and the data privacy issues widely reported in the media did not affect EB.
The Technology and Academic departments have worked swiftly to secure Zoom classrooms using those security features to defend against different kinds of attacks. Each attack has a different set of remedies to protect the Zoom meeting. Once classes resume after Spring Break, we will have implemented the full set of security measures available (and also for the Spring Break digital camp).
The Technology Department has researched the attacks and remedies in depth and we are confident in the security of the Zoom meetings going forward. Synchronous instruction is absolutely critical to EB’s bilingual program. Zoom is not perfect, but we have taken all available measures to make it a safe space for students and teachers.
Distance learning can be challenging for both students and families. You, parents, are indispensable partners in this process. To best support your child, we recommend creating structures and routines, setting aside a dedicated study space, monitoring your child’s communications with their teacher, and allowing for breaks and quiet times, as well as other measures. Our academic team has created a list of key guidelines for parents so they can best support their child in this new way of learning.
Parents are also encouraged to join our weekly webinars that address challenges families face with homeschooling, their child's emotions, or how to keep up French language skills during distance learning.
In these stressful times, know that you should expect a range of emotional reactions from your child. An elevated level of anxiety is a natural reaction in this type of situation with the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus. You can help manage that anxiety by talking to your child, reassuring them, and also managing your own anxiety.
Here are some informative articles curated by our counselors about how to talk to your child about the current situation:
- How to talk to children about the coronavirus (for children)
- 5 Ways to Help Teens Manage Anxiety About the Coronavirus (for teens)
- Talking to Kids about the coronavirus
- How to talk to your child about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- "Il ne faut pas devancer ses questionnements": comment parler du coronavirus à son enfant?
During this time, you will want to stay attuned to your child's emotions and state of mind and intervene as needed. It's important to monitor your child for signs of anxiety and other negative emotional reactions that seem beyond a natural reaction. While it would be normal to have heightened anxiety and sleeplessness, any concerning behavior or troubling symptoms should be taken seriously, and if warranted, professional help sought or contact us for a consultation. Here are some things to look for:
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle tension (headaches)
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Sleep disturbances (bad dreams/nightmares)
Additionally, follow your intuition; if something doesn't seem right with your child, check it out with them.
Our counselors Carla Maia (Preschool to grade 4) and Douglas Gostlin (grade 5 and up) are available during the school closure to answer any questions or provide individual guidance may you or your child need it. You can contact them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Message from the Head of School, May 15
- Message from the Head of School, May 8
- Message from the Director of Enrichment & Athletics, April 29
- Message from the Head of School, May 1
- Message from the Head of School, April 24
- Message from the Head of School, April 17
- Message from the Head of School, April 10
- Message from the Head of School, April 3
- Message from the Head of School, March 25
- Email from the Board of Trustees co-chairs (March 25)
- Message from the Head of School, March 20