This article was first published on the KUSI News website on Sept. 16, 2020.  

Francis Parker School welcomes students back to classroom in flexible hybrid model

By Hunter Sowards, KUSI News

LINDA VISTA (KUSI) – Francis Parker School in Linda Vista was included in the first round of waivers approved to begin in-person learning, but since then they have adapted a unique hybrid approach for all 1,300 students.

“It’s been eye opening, just to discover how passionate our teachers are and how willing they are to do literally anything and everything so that we can make it possible for kids to come back on campus,” said Kevin Yaley, Head of School at Francis Parker.

Yaley says each student and faculty member was given the option to stay at home or return to in-person learning. They have developed a model of both virtual and classroom instruction that’s easily adaptable.

“So we have it set up so if authorities say we have to move away from campuses, we can shift right back online and the integrity of the academic program doesn’t get touched at all,” Yaley said.

The independent school district is a coeducational, college preparatory day school serving students in junior kindergarten through seniors in high school, divided between two campuses. The phasing in of some classes also gives them the flexibility to stagger start times and ensure proper safety protocol.

“Every other day, I’m either teaching all day or I’m off. So the kids will have a day on campus here and the next off,” Yaley said. “Same with an on-campus teacher, I have one day on, and then the next day I’ll have time to do my prep work.”

The campus has an added architectural advantage that makes a pandemic classroom even more safe. One wall facing the outside slides open making fresh air easy to come by.

“We lucked out with the reason we have the open doors and that’s because historically our original campus was designed so that the one side would roll up because they believed in indoor, outdoor education,” Yaley said.

If someone tests positive for the virus, the split or amended schedules makes it easy for staff to trace and isolate students who should stay home rather than shut down the entire school.

Leaders say following all county and state health guidelines will continue to be their first priority during these uncertain times.