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Return to School Plan 2020

The Process

Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley has created a Return To School Committee, composed of key members of the school’s administration, tasked with creating a roadmap of essential actions needed to implement a safe, efficient, and flexible return to school for the 2020-21 academic year. The plan prioritizes the health and safety of the EB community.

Essential questions guiding the work of the committee:

  • When to reopen?
  • For whom to reopen?
  • What safety and health measures should be put in place when we reopen?
  • What will be the impact of the reopening on the academic organization?

Prerequisite for school reopening

The following conditions need to be met in order for the school to reopen:

  • The Shelter in Place is lifted for education.
  • The Return to School Plan can be safely implemented, aligned with international best practices and federal, state and local government & public agencies requirements.
  • Supplies are secured and our campus is deep cleaned.
  • We have enough school personnel to support our students with social distancing measures.
  • The school’s facilities can accommodate students following bubble and cohort grouping.

Scenarios being considered when deciding to offer on-campus or distance learning in the fall of 2020.

The “Copenhagen Model for Reopening Schools”

Ecole Bilingue plans to physically reopen school in the fall following the "Copenhagen Model", pending public health officials’ approval and additional guidance. This model follows mitigation strategies to protect students, faculty, and staff of the threat posed by COVID-19. 

This temporary “new normal” will follow three key principles:

  1. Keep everyone as safe as possible on campus by increasing hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection; limiting physical interactions; and keeping distance between individuals and groups
  2. Ensure clear communication and expectations for all stakeholders
  3. Maintain the school mission, community ethos, and familiarity of school routines

Note that this plan represents the school’s best thinking at the moment. It has been informed by knowledge of child development and is susceptible to adjustments depending on the evolving circumstances. It also represents the new established "standard of care" (in particular from local health authorities), for a temporary, emergency learning situation that will evolve following the public health situation in California.

Timeline leading up to the return to school.

Main Strategies to Mitigate the Pandemic on Campus

The principle mitigation strategies are based around social distancing and enhanced sanitation and cleaning procedures. In particular, to lower the risk of transmission and to aid in contact tracing, students are to be placed in the same rooms with the same groups, or pods, of children. 

Here are the main strategies that will be enacted on campus to lower the risk of possible transmission to students, parents, staff and the wider community:

The use of masks during class for middle school students (there may be additional requirements for elementary school students).

Enhanced sanitizing and cleaning processes.

Changes to campus access for visitors and parents.

Institution of group capacity limits (10 to 12 students) to allow for social distancing and bubble grouping in classes.

Modification of programs and events in compliance with limits on group sizes and social distancing measures.

Continued use of virtual platforms in conjunction with on campus learning (a hybrid approach, easy to scale up) to keep in-person contact at safer levels in areas of academic instruction or student activities.

Schedules, pick-up and drop-off times will be slightly modified. Recess times will be staggered (scroll down to “Campus Experience” for more on scheduling).

After school athletics offerings are cancelled for the first quarter and will be assessed for the rest of the year, following the Alameda County recommendations and requirements.

After school enrichment and extended day programming are cancelled for all students for the first quarter.

On-Campus Learning Options

At this time, two options are being considered for on-campus learning. The decision about which option is ultimately chosen will depend on constraints such as space, health requirements, and faculty and staff availability. 

Option #1: On Campus 100% of the Time

Students are on campus close to 100% of normal school hours. This is the Return to School Committee’s preferred scenario.

  • Most classes are divided into two equal groups ("The Copenhagen Model").
  • In the Primary levels, groups are assigned to a "homeroom teacher" and a designated enrichment supervisor. Following the bubble approach, groups are compartmented and do not interact with one another.

Option #2: Hybrid model

Students are on campus close to 80% of normal school hours school wide. This is the Return to School Committee’s second preferred scenario.

  • A priority will be given to the preschool and lower elementary school students to be on campus 100% of the time (PS to 2nd grade).
  • The 3rd to 8th grade students will alternate periods of distance learning and periods of on campus learning, with the objective of having students on campus as much as possible.

Whichever option is chosen, distance learning will be a component of the educational experience next year. There will be times when students cannot come to campus, for instance if a teacher is absent, or if a group has to self quarantine because of a Covid-19 case. In this eventuality, the school will follow a “hybrid model” of instruction combining asynchronous and live instruction from home.

We are absolutely grateful to EB for everything - the regular emails regarding covid-19 that shows concern not just for the students and school but also for the larger community that we live in, all the preparation you have done to launch distance learning and provide physical packets of homework right away, offering digital devices to kids who need it (we didn't need it but we thought this was so thoughtful and inclusive), the thoroughness and the thoughtfulness of the homework assignments prepared. We are very grateful to be a part of the EB community.
Kindergarten parent, April 2020

Health and Safety Measures

Below are the health and safety measures that will be put in place when school resumes in the fall:

Social distancing 

  • 6 feet of separation whenever possible outside of classrooms
  • Groups of 6 to 12 students school-wide - students treated as a family unit in Preschool and Lower School (“bubble approach”)
  • 3 feet spacing preserved inside classrooms for Middle School students with social distancing and assigned seating (“cohort approach”)
  • Density of bathrooms: each cohort/bubble is assigned to their own bathroom
  • Creating protocols and assigned spaces for isolating potentially sick adults or students

Personal protective equipment

  • All faculty and staff will receive training on health and safety measures prior to coming back to school 
  • All faculty, staff and middle school students should wear masks (there may be additional requirements for Lower School students)
  • Faculty and staff will all be equipped with FDA-approved surgical masks
  • Students with pre-existing health conditions might wear additional protective equipment and/or continue home learning 
  • Initially, faculty and staff aged 65 and over and/or those with high risk factors are advised to stay home when possible

Travel and beyond the classroom experiences

  • Avoid unnecessary travel and trips domestically and internationally
  • Before and after care, enrichment, and athletic activities are postponed


  • Faculty, staff, students, and parents should monitor their own symptoms and report them to health care providers. Parents will not bring their child(ren) to school if they have any Covid-19 associated symptoms or a fever
  • Parents should not bring their children to school if they OR ANYONE the child lives with develops Covid-like symptoms
  • Students and employees will have their temperatures taken at the door (students scanned again after lunch) with hospital-grade no-contact thermometers
  • Additional measures may be implemented or allowed with the guidance of state and local authorities
  • We will respect the right to privacy of all of our community members
  • All community members should commit to following the governmental health guidelines in their day to day activities outside of EB

Campus Experience 

Learn more about the school schedule, presence on campus for various grades, and other aspects of the campus experience in this section.

Presence on campus

  • During the planning phase, we recognized both the burden for parents to care for children and the social needs for students to come to school. As a result, EB aims to have as many students on campus as possible, pending the school’s capacity to provide the relevant space and staffing needed
  • Our Preschool to 2nd grade students will be hosted on campus 100 % of the time. If we cannot have all EB students on campus at all times, grade 3 to 8 students may be following a hybrid model
  • At-risk students have the possibility of following a distance learning program through the "home learning" option

Staggered recesses, start and dismissal times

  • Carpool will be organized at the Middle School and Lower School
  • Specific pick-up and drop-off locations will be created for different grades
  • A revised recess schedule will be created to provide increased outdoor playtime for all students and limit the number of students on the playground at one time
  • The school day will be from 8:00am to 4:00pm for the first quarter (September-December 2020), possibly longer:
    • Preschool and K: Drop-off: 8:15-9:00am - Dismissal: 2:30-3:15pm
    • Elementary school: Drop-off: 8-8:30am - Dismissal: 3-3:30pm
    • Middle school: Drop-off: 8-8:30am - Dismissal: 3:30-4pm


  • The school calendar will remain the same


  • Students will have lunch in their classrooms
  • Lunches will be delivered or brought in disposable bags

Educational materials

  • The school will ensure individual sets so that there is less sharing happening and students are not bringing materials back and forth from home

Home learning

  • Parents who wish to have their children participate in the "home learning" group for health reasons will need to request it
  • "Home learning" will be per quarter

Teaching and Learning

Learn more about how students will be grouped, and how their learning will be tracked in this section.

Student grouping

  • All students will be placed in bubbles of 10-12 individuals maximum per group, created by grade level
  • The general rule is to split classrooms into two groups; some exceptions might exist (i.e. twins can be placed together)
  • Intensive learning-support students or third-language students need to be clustered in the same group by grade
  • “Safety over friendship” is the priority when creating groupings; we will ensure friends in each group
  • Parents will be notified in August by email of the group placements by the administration

Progressions and curriculum

  • The school will review the academic scope and sequence to adapt to this new format of learning 
  • The school will align the progression of learning for students in the "home learning" group and students on campus 
  • The school will create leadership and learning opportunities for students to understand and contribute to the public health education of our community

Additional staff

  • The school might need to hire, train, and evaluate new learning facilitators (if applicable)

Professional development

  • Over the summer, teachers will receive training in delivering distance learning and hybrid learning in order to be able to better transfer in-person instruction to a distance learning environment
  • Faculty and staff will also review prevention tips and safety and screening procedures 

Distance learning program

  • The school will secure additional devices to be able to transition to distance learning, if needed
  • The school will review its distance learning programs and digital platforms to enhance the delivery of this format of learning
  • The school will secure devices, projectors, and technology to equip the additional classrooms and deploy devices if needed

Student support

  • The school will deploy specific plans to support students in the areas of student mental health, social-emotional needs, and individualized support services

Digital Platforms

Our experience since mid-March with distance learning has required our teachers and students to rely on digital platforms and collaborative applications to learn in a new way. From now on, we know we are going to keep using these platforms, whether we transition to on-campus learning fully, or whether we adopt a hybrid approach. These platforms complement the learning process and allow teachers to assess and keep track of their students’ progress.


For students in TPS - Grade 4, SeeSaw will be the online platform for viewing video lessons and uploading student documentation of work (pictures, videos, etc).


During the transition to remote/blended learning, Zoom is one of EB's primary platforms for live (synchronous) instruction. Zoom can be joined from an invitation sent from your teacher.

Google Hangout 

Google Hangout is a video conferencing platform that can be used to provide live (synchronous) virtual class meeting space similar to Zoom. It is used by some of our students in middle school.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is not new for EB - 5th to 8th grade students are accustomed to managing their work, discussions, and assignments through this platform. All class assignments, videos, and announcements will be housed for these grades in Google Classroom.

Zearn & RAZ Kids

EB has been using Zearn and RAZKids which offers teachers, parents, and students appropriate tools for progress with a challenging online curriculum and enrichment program.


Blackbaud will be our school's main information system. Parents and students can access grades, calendars, announcements, and more.

Parents can read more about the digital tools used at EB for distance learning instruction in a blog post by EB’s Curriculum Coordinator.

Next Steps

The Return to School plan is an evolving document which will be completed as additional guidance is provided by the state and local authorities. Here is a non-exhaustive list of items that the school team is currently working on:

  • Ordering the necessary supplies to cover predicted health and cleaning needs
  • Fine-tuning our distance learning plan, adjusting our scope and sequence for 2020-2021, and training teachers on the delivery of distance and hybrid models
  • Finalizing the school enrollment and the 2020-2021 academic structure; finalizing subsequent cohort and bubble groupings
  • Monitoring the public health situation and adapting our three scenarios (on-campus, distance, stop and go) to the latest developments 
  • Securing the authorization to expand learning spaces on our campuses (permits for the portable classrooms, the West Wing at the Middle School, and licensing of new Preschool classrooms)
  • Securing additional staffing, if applicable
  • Communicating the back to school details with our community, through written and live communication in June and in August 
  • Reviewing prevention tips and safety and screening procedures with all students, families, and employees

Questions or Comments

Flexibility and transparency is of the utmost importance and we want to encourage our parents to contact our team if you have any questions or concerns about how we are serving our students and families. 

Ecole Bilingue is here to not only create a sense of continuity of learning for our students, but also to provide a strong and safe community for our entire families. To know whom to contact, please consult the school's Who's Who.