From Our Head of School
Almaden Country Day School has shaped confident, balanced, eager learners for 39 years. In mid-March, by order of our County public health agency, we closed our campus and undertook a massive effort to develop an online curriculum for grades preschool through eight, along with a comprehensive microsite featuring parent resources.
Five days later, we launched what we call Continuous Learning (CL), a custom-designed platform that translates our entire instructional program -- academics, socio-emotional learning, enrichment courses such as hands-on science, art, music, drama, P.E. and world languages, and 49 middle school electives -- to a proprietary remote learning resource accessible by ACDS families only.
When we’re not permitted to offer on-campus classes, Continuous Learning enables ACDS students to enjoy a balanced, developmentally-appropriate instructional program including multiple daily live interactions with their teachers. The CL schedule can be modified to accommodate individual learning needs; our teachers also provide social support and emotional care, and limit screen exposure according to the readiness of different age groups among our student body.
We improved our remote learning curriculum over the summer, and launched the 2020-21 school year online with “CL 2.0” until we transitioned in September to live, in-class instruction (with an online option for families called “Simulcast” for those preferring to learn from home).
Our paramount concern throughout the pandemic is the safety of our students and staff; we are collaborating with public health experts and across a nationwide network of more than 1,700 private schools to constantly update our ACDS-specific health plan that meets or exceeds state and Santa Clara County public health guidelines.
Since March, we have invested nearly $700,000 in health and safety-related improvements to our campus to protect children and adults indoors on campus. Among our most important upgrades is a new HVAC network in every classroom featuring three separate air purification and disinfection systems that can operate simultaneously to optimize indoor air quality and ventilation. In conjunction with our MERV-13 filtration and HVAC disinfection systems that address both air purification and surface disinfection, we’re installing high-output portable HEPA air purification units in all classrooms. These HEPA air scrubbers will help us further enhance ventilation safety for indoor instruction during wildfire season.
We’ve also incorporated scientific and medical best-practice recommendations for campus cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization, in consultation with our campus maintenance provider, Hines Building Maintenance. Our standard is uncompromised excellence in campus cleanliness and safety, and you should expect no less for your children.
Even during the challenges of physically-distanced schooling, ACDS has continued to provide a balance of academic rigor, socio-emotional support, character education, and joy in learning. We’re proud to have developed and delivered a best-in-class online curriculum last spring; and we’re excited to offer our families a choice of on-campus and at-home Simulcast learning options for the 2020-21 school year.
Whether in person or online, our goals as a school remain constant and firm: to challenge, stimulate, and care for every student, every day -- and as our mission promises, to discover the gifts in every child.
If you’d like to learn more about the ACDS experience, or to arrange a virtual tour, please contact Mary Jo Heindel, Director of Admissions and Outreach. Meanwhile, please consult our FAQ page for more information, and enjoy exploring our website!
Dr. Olaf Jorgenson
Head of School
Article written by Dr. Olaf Jorgenson of Almaden Country Day School, Alona Scott of Keys School, and Eric Feron Niles of The Athenian School as featured in Independent School Magazine.