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Frequently Asked Questions

Will my child fall behind and how will you address that?

We understand that you might be concerned that your child is missing out on critical content and skill development during this time of remote learning.  Over the spring break, our faculty worked to identify the critical content and skills to work toward at each grade level for the remainder of the school year and we are confident that our home / online learning plan will provide opportunities for students to continue approaching grade-level learning goals.  At the same, time we know that conditions for learning are not optimal and that we will need to be strategic in our work to ensure that all of our students meet their individual learning goals.  Our academic leadership team is already exploring strategies that will help to address this challenge and we are confident in our ability to do this work.  We know our students well and have the resources we need to adapt and differentiate our curriculum and teaching to meet needs that arise as a result of this temporary campus closure.  We, like many others in the education community, encourage you to remember the big picture and take the long view when considering the impact that temporary distance learning will have on a lifetime of learning.  While learning from home is different from learning on campus, there are great opportunities for your children to continue to develop the 21st-century learning skills (creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking) that frame the CDS approach.  How can your child continue to be creative, collaborate, communicate and think critically while learning from home?  What routines, structures and activities can you engage in as a family that might nurture these skills? To learn more, you can read this message to families from Denise Pope at Stanford’s Challenge Success. 

What is the rationale behind the balance of synchronous and asynchronous engagement? Why aren’t you doing a full schedule of synchronous teaching?

Leaders in the field of designing for online learning remind us that it is important to see asynchronous learning experiences as equally valuable as synchronous ones. According to Global Online Academy, a leader in the field of online learning design, “asynchronicity allows students time to work at their own pace, to take time to compose ideas, and to express themselves in ways that might not be possible in real-time. In addition, asynchronous work allows students to absorb content, prepare assignments, and complete projects offline: it’s a way to avoid hours of staring at screens. 

Our schedules have been developed with the following key questions in mind, What types of learning experiences require synchronous connection and which synchronous experiences can be turned into asynchronous experiences? Feedback from both students and families expressed a need to be mindful of the amount of synchronous engagements we are providing due to 1) a desire to minimize screen time and 2) the challenge of scheduling.  Sustainability, flexibility and wellness have been key drivers of our decision making regarding the schedule.  It turns out, we are not alone.  To learn more about schedules and how other independent schools are approaching the challenge of scheduling for online learning you can read this study from Global Online Academy.

What if I want more than the teacher is offering?

We recognize that some of our students and families are eager for more school learning engagement than is being required by the core classroom teachers.  In these cases, we remind you that our ECP and LS specialist teachers are offering a robust menu of weekly engagements for our students to complete, and are summarized in the weekly Sunday posts.  Additionally, our Butterflies and Extended Care program are also offering a menu of weekly engagements that keep kids learning, playing, and connected to their CDS home.  If you are still looking for more, our division heads and academic leadership team have curated a list or recommended online learning resources for you to explore at home. 

What if I want less?

Every student and every family is unique and will respond to the current context in ways that make sense and meet needs that are equally important.  Learning at home and online during a public health crisis is an entirely new way of life for all of us.  It is NOT business as usual.  It is important to honor your experience and make choices that make sense for your family’s well being, and to do that with confidence during this time.  If that means, prioritizing and limiting the amount of time spent on online home learning, to spend more time on house chores and being with family, then we support you to make that choice.  As you prioritize and make choices about which assignments to complete, we recommend that you prioritize assignments from your child’s core classroom teachers in the major subject areas (language arts, math).  We also encourage you to speak directly with your child’s teachers and/or advisor to seek help in prioritizing and managing the workload.  No child or family should leave this experience feeling like they have failed at online / home learning.  We are here to support you and committed to ensuring that all of our students and families can engage and participate with confidence and success.

How will I know how my child is doing and who do I get support from if things aren’t going well?

While we are learning from home, many of the same structures and systems remain in place for supporting students and communicating concerns.  Your child’s teachers continue to be the first point of contact when you have a question or concern about your child’s learning.  Likewise, if a teacher has a question or concern about your child’s learning, work habits or well being, they will likely reach out either to your child (MS) or you as the parent.  Teachers are continuing to provide regular feedback about learning by commenting on work in SeeSaw (ECP, LS) or on assignments submitted in google classroom.  Teachers are also continuing to meet with our learning support team and specialists to check-in and problem solve when challenges arise.

I am struggling with finances, how can CDS help?

We have started to talk with families and define a process for how best to understand and evaluate true needs within the scope of the school’s finite resources. Paul Galvin, our Director of Finance and Operations is available to talk with you about the process and options for support.


An Introduction to Online/Home Learning

At Children’s Day School, we believe that teaching and learning happen best in person. That said, in the event of a prolonged school closure, we believe it is important to provide continuity and connection for our students by offering an online/home learning plan that is aligned with grade-level content and learning goals and provides students with a routine and planned opportunities to continue to think, learn, reflect and grow under the guidance of their teachers. With this goal in mind, the academic program administration team has developed the following document to outline our approach to online/home learning. This document defines the responsibilities of each member of the community, the basic structure and expectations for each division, and the platforms that we intend to use to support our online/home learning plan.

California Association of Independent School (CAIS) Guidelines

CAIS will count school days during closures as minimum days requiring 3.5 hours of learning activities each school day. Schools have the option of requiring more time for daily learning but the minimum day is the baseline requirement from CAIS.
Parents and teachers should plan for students, grades two through twelve, to spend a minimum of 3.5 hours each day in learning activities. Teachers will create and share learning activities via an online platform.

For grades 2 – 8 learning activities may include but are not limited to:

  • Activities that leverage the use of technology such as online learning, app-based lessons, video lessons, teleconferencing, etc.
  • Textbook based learning, reading, workbooks, and/or packets of work sent home
  • Interactive or hands-on lessons
  • Other activities as designed by instructional staff to meet learning objectives for the grade and subject area, and to align with the school’s instructional approach

Grades pre-kindergarten through first will develop their own requirements.

CDS School Closure Protocol

In the event a school closure of more than three days is necessary, we will inform the community immediately through a text and phone alert with our emergency notification system (One Call Now) and a ParentSquare note.

The first two days will be treated like a weather-related closure to allow faculty and staff an opportunity to prepare for online/home learning that will begin for students on the third day of closure.

Once we begin online/home learning the experience will vary depending on the grade of a student. We will offer connections and assignments through video interactions with classmates and teachers.

It is our expectation that all CDS students engage in the online/home learning provided by CDS faculty and staff. These are not optional activities but, rather, a way to maintain continuity of instruction. If a child is sick or unable to complete assignments for any reason, the family should notify the teacher and division head.

Teachers and staff who are healthy and able to work remotely will be “on the clock” from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. each school day. The specific expectations and platforms differ by Division and are outlined below.

Two Key Words Regarding Online/Home Learning

Asynchronous: Students engage in class materials and complete work at their own pace, typically within a given timeframe: without real-time interaction. Currently, Seesaw (LS) and Google Classroom (MS) are asynchronous experiences.

Synchronous: Students engage in real-time, together, virtually, using a platform like Zoom, or others.

Roles & Expectations: Parents/Guardians

This Guide provides insights about how we all can intentionally align online/home learning with CDS Learning Beliefs. It also provides guidelines about how CDS faculty and families can leverage digital and experiential learning to bring this curriculum to life.

The Active Role & Expectations of Parents/Guardians in Online Home Learning

  • Establish routines and expectations: be sure that your child(ren) are appropriately dressed, fed and prepared for learning before home learning begins for the day
  • Define the physical space for your child’s study. Provide an environment conducive to learning (access to technology, safe and quiet during daytime)
  • Monitor communications from your children’s teachers via ParentSquare/Email
  • Begin and end each day with a check-in:
    Engage in conversations on posted materials and assignments
  • Take an active role in helping your children make sense of this way of learning
  • Establish times for quiet and reflection
  • Encourage physical activity and/or exercise
  • Remain mindful of your child’s stresses or worry
  • Monitor how much time your child is spending online
  • Keep your children social, but set rules around their social media interactions
  • Balance time spent engaging in online and offline learning
  • During synchronous online times, we ask that a caregiver/parent be nearby
  • Support emotional balance by providing ample room and time for reflection, physical activity, conversation, and play
  • Communicate questions/concerns with teachers in a prompt and timely manner

Student Roles & Expectations

The Active Role & Expectations of Students in Online Home Learning

  • Establish daily routines for engaging in learning experiences (e.g. 8:30 a.m. start) as guided by your teachers
  • Be sure that you are appropriately dressed, fed and prepared for learning before home learning begins
  • Identify a comfortable, quiet space in your home where you can work effectively and successfully
  • Regularly monitor online platforms (Seesaw, Google Classroom, and Email) to check for announcements and feedback from your teachers
  • Be on time for synchronous learning sessions and make sure adult support is nearby
  • Complete assignments with integrity and academic honesty, while doing your best work. Make sure you mark your assignment DONE in Google Classroom
  • Do your best to meet timelines, commitments, and due dates
  • Communicate proactively with your teachers if you cannot meet deadlines or require additional support 
  • Middle school students: collaborate with and support your peers 
  • Follow CDS Responsible Use of Technology Policy (RUTA), including expectations for online etiquette
  • Stay socially and emotionally healthy by getting exercise, connecting with friends and sharing feelings with family

Who to contact?

Please see below for who to contact regarding Online/Home Learning at CDS:

Home Learning Expectations By Division

Campus Closure Timeline: We are aware of the State Superintendent communication notifying districts in California that many schools will not open for the remainder of this year. We are extending our shelter-in-place until May 1 in alignment with San Francisco Public Schools and the directives from Governor Newsom. We are not ready to officially close school for the year and we remain optimistic about being together again in person. We will continue to plan for a variety of scenarios while adhering to health and safety guidelines.

ECP (Preschool, TK, K)
In the Early Childhood Program we offer connections and assignments augmented by opportunities for video or face-to-face interactions with classmates and teachers. Homeroom teachers post an overview of their online learning plan on ParentSquare by each Sunday evening so that parents know what is expected in the coming week.

Activities are posted in Seesaw by homeroom teachers. A Seesaw QR login code is provided for students to access their “classroom” and a different QR login code for parent/guardians to view student Journals.

Lower School (Grades 1-4)

We know each of you is doing the best you can to make remote learning work in your homes! With that in mind, we strongly encourage each family to make daily decisions about online learning that work best for you. We support you to make these adjustments as needed and just ask that you message your teacher with a quick note about your decisions. 

Here are answers to some of the common questions that are coming up about home learning for Lower School students. Please let Rebecca know if you have questions about these:

  • 2nd – 8th grade students will receive an estimated 3.5 hours of learning activities from teachers each school day. 1st graders will receive 2-3 hours. This includes assignments from Specialist Teachers on days they typically see students, as well as independent reading time and assignments completed offline. **Please see a note on this below.
  • Most learning activities are designed to be asynchronous (students work through them at their own pace). At this point, each Lower School classroom has at least 3 synchronous Zoom experiences each week. These will continue to evolve and change over time.
  • Parents, please keep setting up social Zooms for your children! We know they love them and it is so important for their well-being to connect with their classmates in unstructured ways. 
  • Student Activities are posted in SeeSaw by 8:30 a.m. . Teachers will comment/provide feedback on student work as soon as possible.
  • Students are expected to complete their Activities that day (unless sick or otherwise excused) by 3 p.m. , for longer-term assignments, by the specified due date.
  • Students may respond to assignments in a format that works best for them. While some Activities may require a certain textbook (like Spelling Connections), on others, they have a choice of how to deliver their work. They may record their voices, take pictures, write on paper and photograph to upload, type or write directly on the iPad, build an example using things from around the house, or other creative ideas.
  • When your tech isn’t working, please close the application and relaunch it or restart your device entirely. These steps many tech problems! If your individual problem persists, please email . Known tech issues (like SeeSaw going down) will be posted on our OHL wiki as soon as we are aware of them. Please wait a few minutes there before emailing your teachers. 

**Two notes to lower school families:

If on some days the assignment load feels like too much and if your child is experiencing fatigue and anxiety, it’s a good sign that you need to exempt your child from an assignment or postpone it until another time. Some families are replacing assigned activities with others that feel easier for their individual child or family situation.

If on some days the assignment load seems light, please check our Extended Care activities or other resources on our OHL wiki for additional activities.

Middle School (Grades 5 – 8)
Most home learning experiences in Middle School will be asynchronous. Middle School students will rely primarily upon Google Classroom, a platform familiar to students and faculty. This will be augmented by teacher’s created Zoom “meetings” and videos. All students should expect to communicate with teachers and classmates through Classroom, Google Drive and email. Some teachers may supplement these platforms with additional apps such as IXL, Flipgrid or Kahoot which students have used this year at school. All faculty will be available for individual or group check-ins via email and Zoom.

Core and specialist teachers will post assignments on Google Classroom daily and students will be expected to complete these assignments by 3:30 p.m. or, for longer-term assignments, by the specified due date. Students can expect to receive regular teacher feedback on assignments and are encouraged to contact teachers with questions or concerns. Our expectation is that students will spend a minimum of 3.5 hours each day on schoolwork, including 30-minutes of independent reading.

The middle school faculty will also maintain an online “community-building” forum on Google Classroom, allowing us to continue some of our in-school traditions such as the weekly caption contest and assembly “shout-outs.”

Supplementary School-wide Activities
In addition to the 3.5 (average) daily hours of instructional activities, CDS faculty and staff are available to support students remotely in additional ways. These may include:

  • Learning Specialist video check-ins and/or assignments for students who have Learning Specialist support
  • School Counselor/MFT intern video check-ins for students who have weekly sessions
  • Extended Care enrichment activity ideas (to be posted on ParentSquare)

Tech Tips for Families

Need help strategizing with your family about how to keep a healthy balance screen time and everything else available to us?! The links below offer different ways to talk about, monitor, limit and block device functions. These change regularly – and new ones are always in development – so please let us know what you discover works for you!

Home Use of Technology Agreement helps families start talking about technology use at home.

Common Sense Media: (Click “Parents Need to Know”)

Cold Turkey:

Screen Time for Mac iOS:


Circle by Disney:

Find Focus (resource info):

StayFocused [Chrome browser extension]:

Microsoft Family Safety:

CDS Middle School Parent Technology Users Group:

Block Site Google Chrome extension:

ParentSquare Forums

See below for the list of opt-in forums that you can join:

Community Resources/Forum:

Roles & Responsibilities: Faculty & Staff

  • Establish routines and expectations: How are you setting yourself up for success? Define on and off times to best balance personal and professional obligations. 
  • Establish times for physical exercise, quiet, and reflection. It is important you take care of yourself first. 
  • Define your physical space: Where are you working? Do you need to make adjustments so you can more easily balance work/personal time? Do you have what you need? If not, what can you do to get it? Use tips for ergonomic best practices, exercises, and stretches
  • Refine teaching and learning goals: Define the most important learning goals and focus on what you can reasonably help students accomplish by the end of the year. 
  • Prioritize asking for support if you notice diminishing returns – or a sense of overwhelm – in your online from home efforts. Rethink, reapproach, and reach out to your supervisor, the Tech team, or whoever might bring a valued perspective! 
  • Interrupt life online with plenty of offline engagement that makes you smile, expands your thinking, boosts your social connections, or gets you moving. Indulge your senses with a meal, exercise, a phone call, a book, etc. 
  • Monitor communications from parents via ParentSquare/email. Set boundaries about how and when to respond: our policy of a 24-hour response is still in effect. If a parent is overstepping reach out for support from your division head and/or Shelly.
  • Remain mindful of your stresses or worry and reach out to a friend, division head, counselor, or Shelly if you need support. 
  • Support your own emotional balance by creating ample time for reflection, physical activity, conversation, and play (yes, even adults). Your well-being affects how well we can serve ourselves and others.
  • Communicate questions/concerns with your supervisor so we can support you. PLEASE ask for help.
  • We are all in this together, and yet each person has a different perspective and set of circumstances they are managing. We need to do our work with the concept of equity, not equality. How we need to do things may be different and it is also important to remember that this holds true for families.
  • Practice gratitude by remembering what you can be grateful for and seeing how you can support others with random acts of kindness or other small actions.

Zoom Recording Policies

  • To protect the safety and privacy of both students and faculty at CDS, all 1-to-1 Zoom sessions will be recorded. Recording these sessions ensures that we can continue to practice the same level of professionalism and preservation of boundaries that we practice while in CDS buildings. 
  • Similarly, classroom recordings will occasionally be recorded.
  • It is recommended that 1-to-1 sessions be conducted in spaces other than bedrooms although it is understood that sometimes this cannot be avoided, the doors of both should remain open. Teachers will be expected to dress professionally.
  • No 1:1 sessions whatsoever should be conducted online with students’ families who have not signed the consent form, unless a parent of that student is present during the (unrecorded) 1:1 session; or, unless that parent provides their consent by signing the form. 
  • All 1:1 session video recordings will be stored in the Zoom Cloud Recording platform and will be archived. They will only be accessed by the CDS technology director at the request of the Head of School (for 1:1 sessions) or the teacher/administrator leading the class or meeting.
  • Recorded Zoom class sessions can be recorded locally or to the Zoom Cloud Recording platform. And will primarily be used to support students unable to attend live class sessions and will occasionally be used to support teacher development and the sharing of best practices.
  • 1:1 recordings will only be accessed if there becomes a concern about professionalism or boundaries.

Updated 5/20/2020

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the use of the occasional classroom recordings?
    • To support any absent students so they can retrieve missing lessons/instruction
    • Classroom sessions may be recorded to assist CDS with valuable instruction and curriculum tools for best practices.
  • Why is the 1-to-1 recording important and required?
    • Ensuring the safety of the student and faculty at CDS is highly important. Each classroom in our buildings included windows through which students and teachers are always visible. Recording the 1-to-1 zoom session creates a safety net in the virtual world and ensures that we maintain the same level of professionalism. In order to protect both students and teachers, we are recording 1-to-1 sessions. 
  • Where are the video recordings stored? 
    • ALL recordings will be stored in the Zoom Cloud Recording platform.
  • What are the privacy settings and retention policy?
    • All zoom cloud recordings are encrypted and only the meeting host (the respective teacher), their supervisor, and Zoom account admin will have access to the recording
    • For privacy purposes, all Zoom sessions by faculty and staff can only be recorded to Zoom Cloud Recording
    • Cloud recording cannot be downloaded except by our Zoom Administrator
    • Zoom recordings CANNOT be deleted by teachers or other staff. Only the CDS Zoom administrator can delete them.
    • A recording disclaimer is enabled: 
      • Zoom app will ask/notify meeting participants for consent when a recording starts
      • Zoom app will ask/notify the host to confirm before starting a recording
    • All video recordings will be saved and then archived at the end of our Online/Home learning period. 
    • If you do not consent to be recorded for a classroom session, it is the parent’s responsibility to disable the video function by turning off the video feature in the Zoom application.