Bowman School, a Montessori elementary school in Palo Alto, is trying hard to reopen for in-person learning this fall.
“If there’s any possibility of us being able to safely and responsibly offer in-person education in small groups, then we’re going to try to do that,” Mary Beth Ricks, Head of School at Bowman School, said.
Two weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that most students will need to learn from home this fall due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but there is an exception for elementary schools. They can apply for a waiver with their local health officer.
“The waiver is an opportunity and we’ve decided to just take the opportunity but also make plans in case it’s not granted,” Ricks said.
Ricks said she’s contacted Santa Clara County to talk about the waiver and is waiting to be connected with a liaison.
In the meantime, Ricks shared some of the school’s safety plan for reopening. It includes closing water fountains, social distancing in small classes of 12 children with designated seating, and one-direction hallways.
“It starts with health checks and temperature checks at the front door for all staff and children,” Ricks said. “We have provided all of our staff with PPE that they can replace every day, if they wish, face masks, as well as shields, as well as gloves.”
The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is strongly encouraging elementary schools to apply for the waiver.
"I know that the County Office of Education, from what we hear, has been contacted by at least 80 schools, and perhaps larger than that, but at least 80,” Deputy County Executive David Campos said.
Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto said it has also started the waiver process.