This month, even as we remain under the extended stay-at-home orders brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bay Area is experiencing worsening air quality due to massive wildfires, and power outages due to overwhelming heat. As we monitor these multiple emergency situations and imagine what other critical circumstances might develop while we are in Campus Mode #4 (All-Out), we want to let you know that the safety of your family is the highest priority. Should you need to evacuate, or if you are experiencing power outages, please FIRST be sure that you are in a secure situation. When you are able safely to alert the school about your circumstances, please send a message firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter which Campus Mode we are in, for emergency situations that require immediate school wide communication, JCHS uses the Swift K-12 emergency notification system to communicate quickly and efficiently with families. JCHS sends emergency messages to the email address and cell phone number you provided to the school in the School Forms.We will conduct our annual test of this system on Monday, August 31 at 4 pm. At that time, please expect to receive a test message from Swift K-12. If you do not receive that message, please email@example.com.
Thank you to everyone who completed the surveys. We value hearing your thoughts and feedback. A number of your questions related to returning to Ellis Street for in-person learning. While those questions are moot for the moment, your questions will be especially helpful as we continue planning for a return to Ellis Street later in the school year.
We know that there are many questions as we move closer to the start of the school year, and we want to connect with you. We are inviting all families to engage with us in live meetings via Zoom during the week before school begins. Families, please RSVP for these meetings via the link in your email.
August 10 at 4:00pm: for families with students in the Class of 2024
August 10 at 5:00pm: for families with students in the Class of 2023
August 11 at 4:00pm: for families with students in the Class of 2022
August 11 at 5:00pm: for families with students in the Class of 2021
As part of our planning for the first week of school, JCHS will be assembling individualized “Back to School” boxes for each student. Think of the “Back to School” box like a locker at home-- a great place to store all the things needed for classes when school starts in August.
Inside, you’ll find the books that you will need for the first quarter classes, as well as other useful items. Students in Physics and Chemistry classes will also be receiving “Lab kits” with some simple lab supplies. Those in certain Visual Art classes will find art material kits in their boxes. In addition everyone will have some fun JCHS swag and items for an activity on the first day of School, and each grade will have a package from Knesset that we ask that you not open until we gather to hear Knesset President Simona Lewis give her President’s Welcome in our first Virtual Friday Hakhel.
To make things easier for families, we will be organizing regional pickup points in the East Bay, South Bay, and Marin. Families who would like to host a regional pickup, should please let us know as soon as possible by firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boxes will be distributed on August 17 and 18. PLEASE NOTE: If you do not respond to the Parent Survey by August 12, your box will be available at JCHS, 1835 Ellis Street, SF.
During the first Quarter of the year, Drama Director Anne Marie Ullman has developed a rich co-curricular after-school theater program that will allow students to participate in theater and performing arts workshops even while online. These workshops will offer the opportunity for students to engage with local and national theater professionals to deepen their understanding of a variety of subjects from choreography, to auditioning, to design. Offered after school by Zoom twice a week (45-90 minutes), students can choose to drop in, participate in the design continuum, or experience every workshop as a way to enhance their skills. The results of these workshops will inspire JCHS’s future productions and allow the students to become a part of the entire creative process.
In addition to the workshops, we will host a regular series of discussions/analyses of theater productions (such asHamiltonandMuch Ado About Nothingwhich are available on video), and other filmed theater productions. We’ll learn about the choices made by the creative teams (lighting, script writing, acting, directing), which build to successful storytelling.
Experience from the first iterations of our Distance Learning plan in the spring showed that one of the most challenging elements for students to navigate is the number of classes to focus on during a single day. By reducing the number of classes that students need to focus on at one time, we better support a student’s ability to go deeper into their learning. This will also permit us to have longer blocks each day for learning. That means, classes that used to be spaced over an entire year, will have the same amount of class time in a single semester.
Interweaving the learning throughout the year will support the student’s engagement and long-term retention of their learning. Particularly in areas like math and language learning, completing a full semester at once would create time-spans that are too long between learning engagement.
If a student finds that they are falling behind in the work for a class, the alternating quarter system also allows students to check in with faculty, catch up on work that may be pending, ask for additional help, and enjoy a “reset” when the class begins again in the following quarter.
Alternating quarters also enable students to see and interact with others from different grades promoting a stronger sense of school community.
This schedule is fully amenable to a 100% online option for students. Those who cannot be on campus during their on-campus week would be able to virtually access the instruction from home. Families should be sure to notify the Registrar if their student will be 100% online. Some classes may be taught entirely online to protect faculty health.
Minimizing student density on campus, maximizing our ability to contact-trace, and giving students ten-day windows of off campus time will support our ability to identify, respond and contain quickly when high-risk incidents occur.
We feel that the reduction of the number of classes at one time will greatly reduce the cognitive strain on executive functioning weaknesses. Students with processing speed challenges will confront the new challenge of condensed courses, and modifications around work-load may be needed. Increased availability for one-on-one support, the additional hire of a third learning specialist, more frequent synchronous learning time, and more consistent schedules will all serve to support our students with learning differences.
If a student will be absent for the day due to illness or a family emergency, a parent/guardian is expected to email@example.com 8:30am to report the student absent.
So we can know when to anticipate a late student’s arrival or early release, a parent/guardian should firstname.lastname@example.org let us know if their student is going to be late or leaving early. Whenever possible, schedule appointments outside of school hours.
JCHS strongly discourages any absences when school is in session and requires completion of a planned absence form (available from theRegistrar) at least one week before the planned absence. In the event that a student does not complete the form, or otherwise fails to communicate the planned absence to their teachers, teachers may not be able to help students assemble the necessary course materials before they leave.
All teachers will have posted office hours on Fridays and at least one other day after school between 3:30 and 4:30pm. Outside of those times, students can meet with their teachers when they share a common free block or during club block. To make an appointment with a teacher during Posted Office Hours students should go to thePosted Office Hours resource boardon the JCHS Portal to view faculty appointment calendars.
Student-Teacher Video/Audio Calls
Last spring, we saw the positive impact of teachers and advisors meeting with students one-on-one. This year, teachers will hold office hours on Fridays and on some other days after school and advisors will have appointments with each advisee once every other week. In order to improve student/teacher communication, we put in place the following guidelines to allow for students and teachers to have their meetings over Zoom.
These meetings may only be scheduled between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and will have set end times.
Every video call will start with cameras off (“Stop Video”). The student then may choose between a video call or voice call.
All Zoom classroom norms apply to these video and voice calls.
Students who wish to make changes to their schedule may do so during the Add/Drop period. Please note that the Add/Drop period is earlier this year to ensure all students receive the correct books with their Back To School Boxes. Students who are interested in adding or dropping a course MUST fill out an Add/Drop Form by Wednesday, August 5. Once this form is received, the Registrar will notify the student and parents via email to let them know if the requested course has been approved. Families will be notified by Tuesday, August 11. Students who are enrolled in eight courses have until Friday, September 4 to drop a course.
In order to meet the health and safety protocols for Campus Mode 2 (“All-In”; 100% student density) or Campus Mode 3 (Hybrid; 50% student density), we’ve lowered our class sizes and certain classes are only available to specific grade cohorts. To meet room density restrictions, most classes have a smaller cap than usual and many classes already are at capacity. This means that there will be less room for movement during the add/drop period. Add/Drop requests will be approved based on seniority and available space.
One question that has come up is whether JCHS can organize small groups of students on campus for orientation or off campus for learning pods. The answer to both questions from the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) is “No.” SFDPH is in the process of deciding whether or not reopening waivers will be granted for elementary schools based on Governor Newsom’s directives. But there will be no waivers for high schools. SFDPH also has confirmed San Francisco schools cannot adopt summer camp guidelines for school programming or otherwise organize small-group activities or learning pods. JCHS remains committed to taking advantage of the best and safest opportunities made available by SFDPH and we will be sure to keep families updated with any changes.
We understand there may be a variety of reasons that families are interested in forming their own pods. We request that families consider the unintended impacts of organizing small groups of students. Significantly, pods may increase social mixing among groups of adults, teens, and children which may not be appropriately monitored for social distancing, masks, and other safety guidelines, and would go against the SFDPH guidelines of gatherings of individuals who are not members of the same household. Our ability to reopen schools is closely tied to our ability to adhere to these guidelines and stop the community spread of COVID-19. Of further concern is that some students might be excluded from pods, which directly contradicts our school’s commitment to inclusivity. We ask that you thoughtfully consider our JCHS values that support all members of our community as you proceed in your decision-making.
On days when students are learning from home, whether in Campus Mode 4 or Mode 3, most of the learning will be synchronous. Each class will meet for synchronous learning during its scheduled time. Yet, the learning will be similar to working in a live classroom in that there may be times when students are working independently or in small groups or watching media or any range of other typical classroom activities adapted for distance learning.
This summer, JCHS partnered with Global On-Line Academy (GOA) to provide all faculty members with professional development to deepen their capacity to provide a high quality education when we can’t all be on campus together. GOA is a leader in on-line education and teacher training for private school students and faculty from around the world, offering insights into how teachers can design for community, connection, and student support in online spaces; design learning experiences that are easy to navigate, intuitive, and interactive; and help students demonstrate and provide evidence of their learning in online spaces. All members of the JCHS professional community took the GOA overview class, Designing for On-Line Learning; JCHS faculty took additional courses in Assessment, Wayfinding and Student Agency. In addition, some teachers did coursework to become Google Certified Educators.
With this training under their belts, teachers have been working hard to redesign their classes, streamline the content they plan to teach, and reimagine their assessments and rubrics.
JCHS has been reforming the grading system over the past few years to sharpen our focus on learning and growth. That trend continues this year as all JCHS classes will adopt a 12 point grading scale in place of the 100-point grading scale we have used in the past. We expect this change to make our grading system simpler, clearer and more aligned with our goal of helping all students reach their potential.
This means that teachers will not be calculating grades based on percentages or by keeping track of total points earned in a grading period. Too often grading systems based on point calculations unintentionally make it feel like the purpose of school is earning points, instead of achieving the deep learning that we intend.
What’s staying the same?
Teachers will still give grades that include pluses and minuses. Students will get grade reports home at the midpoint and end of each quarter and grades will be cumulative for the length of each class. The only grades that will appear on year-end student transcripts are the grades that come at the end of each class. For example, grades at the end of Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 are only status grades reflecting student progress so far, while the grades at the end of Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 will appear on transcripts.
We anticipate that the workload during Quarter 1 may be quite intense as both teachers and students adjust to the new compressed schedule. Students enrolled in Quarter 2 classes will likely not have sufficient time during Quarter 1 to complete their summer assignments. Therefore, all summer assignments will be due on August 19, whether the class meets in Quarter 1 or Quarter 2.
This coming year brings with it a lot of change, and these changes will be experienced differently by each person. Our increased time online, the compressed courses, the rotating quarters, and the block schedule all present us with a variety of opportunities and challenges. Teachers have been engaging this summer in their own online learning, developing skills to make online learning more impactful, interactive, dynamic, and less draining.
We are excited to share that our learning support department has grown, with the hire of Dr. David Neufeld, our new Director of Learning Support. David has been involved in special needs education for nearly twenty years. He spent the last decade as the Director of Inclusion at Jewish LearningWorks, supporting the Bay Area Jewish community around learning differences and interventions. He brings with him a deep knowledge of learning challenges and how to combat feelings of isolation and navigate challenging school experiences. David earned his doctorate in Special Education from UC Berkeley in 2012, with a focus on social engagement with peers in children with autism. His expertise on the social dimension of learning will be particularly invaluable in a year where the social challenges for students are intensified.
This incredible team has been working this summer to reimagine how we ensure all students have access to the support, interventions, and accommodations that they need to thrive in their learning. We have been developing and strengthening our systems that will increase our coordination and communication with students, families, and teachers, in order to effectively implement interventions, and strengthen relationships.
Examples of some of the ways we will be supporting students this year include:
“Classroom”/Zoom observations of students to see how they are interfacing with the new systems and online learning
Team meetings with Learning Support staff and teachers about student learning plans to assess the implementation and effectiveness of supports, accommodations, and modifications.
Regular teacher and parent/guardian surveys to gather information regarding how students are doing in order to proactively intervene when needed
A “supervised” Zoom space for students to work during their study hall with a JCHS educator present
Increased opportunities for learning support sessions
Student Study Halls
Friday Learning Support Hours
3:30-4:00 pm Homework Cafe
A Curated online resource library for families and students to provide strategies for learning, navigating online learning, and supporting organizational struggles.
In addition to the Learning Support Services detailed in our July 28 Year Ahead Communication, the JCHS Student Support team provides ongoing online individualized support to students and families. We would like you to know about resources that are available to students, in whichever mode that the school is operating.
Deans of Students:Michelle Matz (Dean of Ninth and Tenth Grades), and Rabbi Dean Kertesz (Dean of Eleventh and Twelfth Grades) are available to provide support to students and families. You are encouraged to reach out to them if you have any questions or concerns about your student in that grade.
School Counselor:School Counselor, Julie Beck, LCSW, provides individualized support to JCHS students. Conversations with Ms. Beck are confidential unless a student presents as a danger to themselves, others, or are in some kind of danger. Students can email Ms. Beck to schedule an appointment or sign up on Ms. Beck’s Appointment Calendar. Parents are also encouraged to reach out to Ms. Beck if they want to explore parenting needs and concerns or to seek referrals for therapists and other supports.
Student Advising:JCHS has a robust advising program in which each student has an individual faculty advisor with whom they meet regularly. Advisors work individually with students to build a meaningful support relationship and to help students navigate JCHS systems, connect to relevant supports within the school, navigate the course selection process each spring and attend to ongoing student needs as they arise. Advisors are also resources to advisees’ parents/guardians.As the school year starts in Distance Learning mode, advisors and advisees will meet biweekly. Advising assignments for tenth graders and students whose advisors are no longer at JCHS will be completed in the first few weeks of school; students who need support before they have an advising assignment are encouraged to reach out to their grade Dean.
As students and families who are already working with Ms. Lauren Cook (Dean of College & Gap Year Advising) know, she brings an unparalleled warmth, reliability, and a culture of sanity to what can be a stressful college application process. This fall, the college search and application process will undoubtedly look different from other years, and Ms. Cook is poised to help students navigate this new reality. While the JCHS College Advising Program will not change dramatically this year as many components are already executed virtually, there will be some logistical shifts to address the continuing pandemic. To read more, visit our College Advising page.
JCHS is grateful for generous operational, programmatic, and financial support from:
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.