FAQ - Campus-Based Blended Learning and Home-Based Learning

Keys School will begin the 2020-21 school year in a Distance Learning model, which will extend through at least the first week of November. Even as we prepare to start the year with Distance Learning, we are concurrently refining our hybrid model for the time when we are able to return to in-person learning. 

Below you will find FAQs about our Campus-Based Blended Learning and our Home-Based Learning models. We have answered your questions to the best of our ability with the information we have today. We will continue to review and refine our hybrid model, taking into account the needs of our students, faculty, and staff, updated health and safety guidance, and the numbers of students participating in Campus-Based Blended Learning and Home-Based Learning. As such, the answers to these questions may change. We will keep you apprised of any changes to our models and plans. 

Please reach out to us if you have a question regarding Campus-Based Blended Learning and Home-Based Learning that were not answered within this FAQ.


Returning to Campus

Stable Cohorts

Campus-Based Blended Learning

Physical Distancing

Full-Time Home-Based Learning


Socialization Opportunities from Home

Multi-Grade Cohorts

Parent Support

Questions about the Models




Subject Specific

Social Emotional Health

Health and Safety

Mitigation Efforts


14-Day “Quarantine”


Health Screening

Face Coverings




Reopening Campus

Are there required regulations for reopening?

Yes, Santa Clara County has put together a framework for reopening schools (see below). 

What is the criteria being used to determine when it is safe to reopen our campuses?

We will consider the following criteria when making that decision:

  • Transmission rates in our immediate Keys community and the Bay Area
  • In keeping with the governor’s guidelines, the County of Santa Clara must be off the watch list for a minimum of 14 consecutive days
  • The enforcement of required state and county safety protocols to gain reopening approval from the county
  • Testing availability and timely results for contact tracing
  • Community Confidence among families, faculty, and staff. When cases surge, confidence wanes, and safety is questioned. As cases decline, confidence increases.

Will Keys be applying for a waiver to open?

We are in touch with the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health to investigate the waiver application process to reopen campus for elementary students. Keys will conduct Distance Learning through the first week of November, and we will keep you informed as we learn more about the possibility of a waiver.

Has Keys considered leasing additional space off campus to allow for more space and more in-person attendance?

Yes, we have researched leasing space due to our space constraints on campus; however, we will not be leasing additional space at this time. We will be using our existing classroom and outdoor spaces.

How are other independent schools handling this?

Every independent school is designing plans for reopening that meet both state and county guidelines and take into consideration the unique needs of the school.

How will the restrictions impact beloved events and traditions as campus reopens?

We know that a meaningful part of the Keys experience is all of the special events and traditions that bring our community together. Until public health officials indicate that we can safely bring large groups of people together, we will be reimagining events like Welcome Day, the Spring Picnic, the Back to School Coffee, Back to School Night, and other early year events that typically take place in person. You can expect to hear more about how we will invite virtual or small group participation in events as we kick off the year.

Why can’t Keys bring all students back at once?

We cannot bring all of our students back onto campus while adhering to county regulations which include stable cohorts, the size of which are dictated by indoor square footage and physical distancing.

Stable Cohorts

What is a stable cohort?

A stable cohort is a fixed number of students from the same grade level who form a learning group. These students will stay together throughout the day for all classes and activities, and spend time with a limited number of adults in a limited number of spaces over the course of a day. Stable cohorts have been found to be a highly effective strategy in limiting risk of exposure and facilitating contact tracing if necessary. We will make every effort to schedule siblings for the same on-campus learning days, however, this may not always be possible.

How will Keys create cohorts?

Faculty will create cohorts similarly to the way that classroom sections have been created in the past. We will continue to honor the various elements that create a strong classroom community to optimize learning and the important relationships within a cohort. While we recognize the desire to reach out with cohort requests, including those that address geographic location for carpools or family tolerance for risk, we are unable to honor parent requests for groupings as we will inevitably receive conflicting requests and queries.

Will a teacher stay with a cohort during the day? Or will they move between different cohorts?

Lower School
The homeroom teachers will rotate between a maximum of two small, stable cohorts over the course of a week. Specialist teachers will interact with multiple cohorts over the course of the week with safety protocols in place, sometimes by coming to the classroom, sometimes virtually, and sometimes by having the students travel to an outdoor space.

Middle School
For Campus-Based learning, three out of four core teachers will physically interact with multiple cohorts. Specialist teachers will connect virtually for lessons in order to minimize in-person contact. World Languages will occur daily, in a virtual format and P.E. will also occur on campus, with options for both in-person and virtual lessons.

Will students within a cohort share resources?

We are working to ensure that students have their own materials so that they are not sharing anything, from jump ropes to math manipulatives to pencils. In cases where they will need to share, we will sanitize materials between usages.

What kind of interactions will occur within a cohort?

While on campus, student interactions will be confined to the classmates within their stable cohort. In the classroom and outside of the classroom, student spaces will be delineated according to the six-feet social distancing parameters. Teachers will encourage student conversation and engagement with one another while also maintaining a six-foot distance between masked students. 

Campus-Based Blended Learning


What is the Campus-Based Blended Learning model?

The flexible learning model we have designed is a hybrid of both in-person and distance learning. With the safety of our students and faculty in mind, we have chosen a cautious approach, allowing for small classes and physical distancing. At Lower School, Kindergarten will meet in stable cohorts of 12-13 students and grades 1-4 will meet in stable cohorts of 9 or 10 students. Middle School cohorts will have between 10-13 students. 


  • on campus 5 days a week
  • 3 classes of 12-13 students

Grades 1-2 

  • on campus 3 days a week
  • Home-Based Learning 2 days a week
  • students will be on campus Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, or Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and doing Home-Based Learning on the off campus days
  • each grade divided into 4 cohorts (no students overlap)
  • 2 cohorts per grade on campus at a time

Grades 3-4 

  • on campus 2 days a week
  • Home-Based Learning 3 days a week
  • each grade divided into 4 cohorts (no students overlap)
  • 2 cohorts per grade on campus at a time
  • students will be on campus Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday and doing Home-Based Learning on Wednesdays and on the other off campus days

Grades 5-8 

  • on campus 2 days a week
  • Home-Based Learning 3 days a week
  • each grade divided into 3 cohorts (no students overlap)
  • 2 grades on campus at the same time
  • students will be on campus Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday and doing Home-Based Learning on Wednesday and on the other off campus days

What will Campus-Based Learning Look Like at Lower School?

In the Lower School, students will spend the majority of their day with their homeroom teacher. The homeroom teachers will rotate between a maximum of two small, stable cohorts over the course of a week. Specialist teachers will also interact with the students over the course of the week with safety protocols in place, sometimes by coming to the classroom, sometimes virtually, and sometimes by having the students travel to an outdoor space. Over the course of the day, multiple fifteen-minute breaks will allow students to move, get outdoors, wash hands, and recirculate the air in the classrooms. Students will have opportunities to participate in core academic classes (language arts, math, social studies) and specials, to have recess and outdoor time with the children in their stable group, and to take advantage of the many benefits of the Keys campus.

What will Campus-Based Learning Look Like at Middle School?

In the Middle School, each grade will be divided into three stable cohorts. Though the entire grade will be on-site at the same time, students will remain in their stable cohort for classes and recesses/breaks. Class time will be spent with their core teachers in person (English, math, science, or social studies), while other specialist teachers will connect virtually for lessons in order to minimize in-person contact. World Languages will occur daily, in a virtual format and P.E. will also occur on campus, with options for in-person and virtual lessons. A single designated classroom, outdoor space, bathroom, and handwashing station will be assigned to each student cohort to minimize group-to-group interactions and maximize physical distancing practices. Over the course of the day, multiple fifteen-minute breaks will allow students to move, get outdoors, wash hands, and air-out classrooms. An extended lunch break will also take place, and students will remain in their cohorts for that time, with options to remain in their classroom or use their assigned outdoor space.

For students participating in Campus-Based Learning, on the days when a student is not on campus, will they be zooming into that real-time lesson with the on-campus group, or will school on those days be pre-recorded lessons or some other assignments?

Lower School
On the days students are not on campus, students will be participating in real-time Zoom lessons with specialist teachers. These classes are designed to be virtual experiences. Students will also work on independent Seesaw activities provided by the homeroom teachers. These activities will build upon their in-classroom work. 

Middle School
When Campus-Based students have scheduled days at home, all lessons will be coordinated virtually via zoom and other synchronous activities. OWL technology will not be used for classes. .

For on-site learning, how is differentiated instruction carried out within the cohort?

We will handle differentiation in the same way we did when we were in the classroom full time. Whether students are learning on-site or remotely, teachers will use myriad strategies to differentiate the content of lessons, the process through which the child will learn, and/or the product that students are creating to show understanding or skill. Teachers also think about students’ skill levels, interests, and dynamics with others in making decisions to hopefully push students into their own, individual “learning zone.”

Will students have 1:1 meetings with teachers?

Students will have an opportunity to meet 1:1 with teachers within their cohort, while maintaining social distancing protocols. Any 1:1 meetings with teachers outside of a student’s cohort will occur virtually.

Can classes be outside as much as possible?

When possible, we will move learning outdoors. We will capitalize on the open-air layout of our campuses and adjacent community spaces, and weather permitting, students may spend more time outside than inside.

Will students sometimes have virtual classes while on campus?

Yes. In order to minimize exposure across cohorts, some specialist classes will be taught virtually even though students are on campus.

Why do K-2 have more days during the week on campus?

While we would hope to have all of our students on campus more regularly, we are unable to do so and still maintain appropriate social distance and de-densification. Our youngest students are still learning how to “do” school, and are most in need of routine and in-person social interactions. Taking into consideration these developmental needs alongside the current evidence that COVID-19 transmission rates are lower for our younger students, we have opted to prioritize our kindergarten through second grade students for on campus learning.

Why are on-campus days for grades 5-8 two days back to back? Why are on-campus days for grades 1-4 not on consecutive days?

Developmentally, Lower School students require more frequent on-campus interactions to maintain a sense of routine and continuity. By spreading the on-campus days throughout the week, our youngest students are better able to recall and retain campus routines and expectations, which tend to be lost when the breaks between on-campus experiences are extended to a full week away.

At Middle School, having consecutive learning days assists students with routine and executive functioning more effectively than alternating days might offer. Back to back days minimizes cross-contamination of cohorts on campus and maximizes deep cleaning practices. Two days in-person and five days off campus increases the likelihood for symptoms to emerge and be addressed, should an individual show signs of illness.

What will recess look like? Will kids get to play outside, run around, play on playground equipment, play with each other, or will they have to be 6 feet apart not touching even outside?

We will be staggering recess times to ensure that stable cohorts remain the required 25 feet apart. We are also working to designate play spaces, one cohort per space. In terms of playground equipment, we are continuing to look at best practices to mitigate the risk of cross-contamination

How does a Kindergartener learn to read if everyone is wearing a mask?

We are continuing to look into masking options that allow for viewing the teacher’s mouth. Some of these options may include see through masks and humanity shields.


With staggered drop off, will we be able to drop students off early so we can get to work?

Unfortunately, in order to minimize exposures across cohorts, we will likely not be able to accommodate early morning drop-offs.

How and when will drop off and pick up times be determined?

We are able to share drop off and pick up times with you now.  

Lower School

Drop off times will be based on last name of the student:

8:10 – 8:20am: last name A-M

8:20 – 8:30am: last name N-Z

Pick up times will be:

3:00 – 3:15pm: last name A-M

3:15 – 3:30pm: last name N-Z

Middle School

Drop off times will be:

8:15 – 8:25am: last name A-M

8:25 – 8:35am: last name N-Z

Families with students at both campuses are able to drop at Middle School during either window of time.

Pick up times will be:

3:30 – 3:40pm: last name A-M

3:40 – 3:50pm: last name N-Z

Will an effort be made to coordinate sibling days on campus?

Yes, we will make an effort to do this; however, we can’t guarantee that we can accommodate it in every instance.

When will we know what on-campus days we are assigned? Can we pick which days we want to be on campus?

Families will not have the opportunity to select preferred campus days. When the Campus-Based Learning option is available, we will poll families again to determine cohorts numbers, days, etc. Keys will share this information as soon as possible prior to beginning Campus-Based programming.

When will we find out what cohort my child is in and which teachers they will be working with?

For the start of the year, in Distance Learning, Keys will reach out with cohort group and teacher information the week before school starts.  

For Campus and Home-Based models, later in the year, we will need more input from families before groups are established and communicated.

If my child needs to be picked up for a doctor appointment, how would that work?

If you need to pick up your child for a doctors appointment:

  1. Notify the office via email or phone when you need to pick up your child
  2. When you arrive to campus please call the office from your car to let us know you have arrived
  3. While your student is being collected from the classroom please sign them out on an electronic sign-out sheet that will be provided to you
  4. Your student will be walked out safely to your car

Will students wear masks during P.E.?

Yes. Current best practices indicate that masks should be worn at all times (or as much as possible for our youngest students) so we will encourage mask-wearing during all activities. 

For outdoor learning, how will we amplify voices so everyone can hear?

We are still researching this topic. 

Is parent volunteering still allowed? Are there any protocols for parents volunteering?

To reduce the risk of disease transmission and provide the safest possible environment for our students, teachers, and staff, we must minimize the number of people on campus. Therefore, no visitors or volunteers will be allowed on campus. Virtual engagement (and volunteer opportunities) will still be available.

How will resources be split between Campus-Based and Home-Based models?

School Administration will allocate available resources to provide the necessary support for each model.

Physical Distancing

How will Keys address kids not respecting physical distancing?

We know that students will need time and practice to become adept at physical distancing when they have been used to having greater freedom of movement at school. As with any norms and expectations at Keys, teachers will respectfully engage in positive redirection and provide helpful strategies so that students can learn to stay at a safe distance from their peers. We have learned from international schools that have opened in the spring, even the youngest students learn to follow these routines quite quickly.

How do we keep cohort distancing during lunch time (with mask off)?

Students will eat lunch in the outdoor space that is designated for that cohort that day and is sanitized throughout the day.

Full-Time Home-Based Learning

What is the full-time Home-Based Blended Learning model?

Different from our All School Distance Learning model, the Full-time Home-Based Learning occurs concurrently with our Campus-Based Blended Learning model. Students participating in Home-Based Learning will utilize a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (previously created) instruction and course materials, grounded in close teacher relationships, regular assessment, and ongoing adjustments and differentiation to ensure that students are developing academic skills and life skills in a connected learning community that supports their health and well-being.

What does Full-time Home-Based Learning look like at Lower School?

For Lower School students, Home-Based Learning will begin each day in a virtual synchronous Morning Meeting on Zoom. Throughout the day, students will participate in homeroom and specialist classroom experiences through both synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Most activities will be provided using Seesaw, our student engagement platform. Seesaw allows students and teachers to share, collaborate, reflect, and create using photos, videos, drawings, and text. The day will end with a virtual synchronous Closing Circle.

What does Full-time Home-Based Learning look like at Middle School?

Home-Based Learning for Middle School students will feel similar to our distance learning practices from the spring. Students will attend advisory, see a combination of core and specialist teachers, and will have individual work time to complete assignments, review material, and check-in with teachers.

How will Home-Based learning be different from Distance Learning in the spring?

Lower School
The two programs will be quite similar. The schedule for both includes regular and frequent live classes via Zoom. A notable difference will be the few specialist classes taught live on campus. For these classes the home-based students will be participating in class via Zoom using the Owl technology.  

Middle School
Owl technology will be the primary support in helping Home-Based students engage with live classes held on campus. Coursework and access to materials will be the same for Home and Campus-Based Learning.

For Home-Based Learning, which classes are synchronous and which are not?

Lower School
For Lower School students engaged in Home-Based Learning, the majority of classes –  both core subjects and specialty classes – will be synchronous, beginning each day with a live Morning Meeting and concluding each day with a live Closing Circle. At most, there will be two asynchronous lessons two or three times per week. 

Middle School
A majority of classes will be synchronous for both Home and Campus-Based Learners. There will be occasional asynchronous lessons to ensure screen time is balanced. In addition to classes, Middle School students will have the opportunity to connect with teachers, live, via Office Hours, whether they are on campus or at home.

Will the students engaged in Home-Based Learning join a class with the kids on campus, or are they in a separate Home-Based Learning group?

Lower School
Students in Home-Based Learning will most likely be a part of a separate Home-Based Learning group with a designated Home-Based Learning homeroom teacher for core subjects. For specialist classes, students will join the live on-campus class via OWL technology. In the event that we had very small numbers of students opt for Home-Based Learning, we would consider using the Owl Cam to have the child join the on-campus cohort through technology, depending on the age of the student.

Middle School
Home-Based Learners will join classes with students on campus. Should the number of Home-Based Learners reach one-third to one-half of the grade, we will consider a separate Home-Based cohort. 

Will the teacher who teaches Home-Based Learning be different from the teacher who teaches on campus? (other than those specialist classes with owl/zoom)

Lower School
Most likely. When their counterparts are on campus, we expect that Home-Based students will have their own remote learning teacher. They will join the specialist classes that are Zooming but any homeroom time, they would have their own teacher. In the event that we had very small numbers of students opt for Home-Based Learning, we would consider using the Owl Cam to have the child join the on-campus cohort through technology, depending on the age.

Middle School
No. At Middle School, all subjects are uniquely taught by faculty specialists. Every student will have the same teacher for each subject, regardless of Home-Based or On-Campus status.

Will the synchronous sessions be recorded so that they can be viewed later?

Yes. Synchronous sessions will be recorded so that all students can view them at a later time if necessary.

Does a student have to be present during a synchronous class time?

Students are expected to be in class during synchronous class times to optimize their learning, time with peers, and engagement with the curriculum. If your child has an extenuating circumstance or your child needs to be excused from a synchronous class, you will need to connect with your child’s teacher.

If the student is in another country with different time zones, is it possible for them to watch recorded classes instead of joining classes live?

Lower School
Recorded classes will be available to watch at any time. In an effort to build relationships with teachers and classmates, we do encourage participation in some live classes whenever possible. Please reach out to Betsy Doss for direct consultation on this.

Middle School
Recorded classes will be available to watch. There are challenges that come with remaining current with lessons and coursework when in different time zones. Please reach out to Larry Purcell for direct consultation on this.

Will the independent Seesaw work always be at the same time every week?

Classes will, as much as possible, have a predictable weekly schedule and routine.

How will we set up classes for student engagement?

Our goal for any student experience at school is to ensure student engagement. On campus, teachers will employ a variety of strategies for engagement that should feel familiar to students: group discussion, hands-on building or experimenting, individual creation, and more. Online, teachers have built a repertoire of strategies for engaging students remotely. This could look like full discussions or breakout room discussions in a Zoom meeting, asking students to collaborate on an online task or in a GoogleDoc, live polling or quiz experiences, using engaging web resources and media and more.

If you choose Home-Based Learning, do you need to come to school for any reason?

No. You will only need to come to campus to pick up supplies periodically.

What technology will be used in the Home-Based Learning program?

Kindergarten through 3rd grade students will be assigned an iPad and 4th – 8th grade students will be assigned a laptop. The main technologies students will use for Home-Based Learning are Zoom and SeeSaw in Lower School, and Zoom and G-suite in Middle School. We are always investigating and monitoring other technologies and may transition as new features and ways to use them arise. Some considerations that were taken into account in moving the whole school to a 1:1 model are:

  • Standardization of platform – in a distance or hybrid learning model, we have found when all students are using the same devices, obstacles to learning become much lower. 
  • School device management – when the school can manage the devices, we can make sure everyone has the same apps and software to use as learning tools and set up restrictions, thus taking this burden off the families. 

Our current plan is to use technology much like we have in the past by always assessing developmental appropriateness and finding ways to enhance the learning. We constantly strive to move our teaching up the SAMR model, moving from direct substitution to redefining the lesson through technology. In hybrid and distance learning, we will expect the students to use the assigned device for most of the activities.

What type of technology should our child be able to use for Home-Based Learning?

We will be taking the first two weeks of school to focus on teaching the students how to interact using this technology and set up expectations of use in a distance model. Through the use of tutorials, video instruction, and synchronous lessons, we will ensure the students are ready to use the technology as a tool for learning and communication. Throughout the year we will continue to support students in their use of technology during class time and with open office hours.

How will we keep students of different learning pace and capability motivated?

Whether students are learning on-site or remotely, teachers will use myriad strategies to differentiate the content of lessons, the process through which the child will learn, and/or the product that students are creating to show understanding or skill. Teachers also think about students’ skill levels, interests, and dynamics with others in making decisions to hopefully push students into their own, individual “learning zone.”

Who will be the Lower School Home-Based homeroom teachers?

This depends on the number of students opting into each of the models. We will adjust staffing as needed to ensure an equitable balance.

In the Home-Based model, how do children form a connection to their teacher if they see them only a few times a week?

Everyone at Keys fully recognizes the importance of relationships. Teachers are already thinking creatively about ways to build those relationships, from scheduling some extra 1:1 or small group time to connect, becoming pen pals, or simply emphasizing relationship building during various points of the year. With small cohorts, we also know that students and teachers will be able to make more of the time they do have together due to the even smaller ratios.

Other opportunities for community building and connection are being built into the schedule, such as biweekly 1:1 meetings with teachers, Zoom dance parties, and in Lower School, special attention paid to daily Morning Meetings and Closing Circles.

Socialization Opportunities from Home

Will students at home have an opportunity to eat their lunches in a zoom room so they have socializing time?

Yes, we are working on coordinating various ways that students can connect during lunch through zoom sessions.

Are there any plans to let kids connect with others who share similar interests?

Lower School
We will encourage Lower School students to connect with one another through weekly Lunch Bunches, as well as, before and after classes. We are examining additional ways to encourage cross-grade level connections.  

Middle School
We will encourage students to join virtual clubs. In the spring, we had a number of clubs that were able to connect via zoom, and we will be continuing those efforts to encourage students to pursue interests with their peers.

Could we have teacher-facilitated social groups for young children, and virtual social groups for kids learning from home?

We are exploring and thinking through different ways that we can support socialization among peers during this time. Whether we have teacher-facilitated social groups or virtual groups, we want to find ways that feel welcoming and safe for faculty, students, and families.

Multi-Grade Cohorts

What is a multi-grade cohort?

A multi-grade cohort is when students from different grades come together in a classroom.

While the idea of a mixed grade classroom is quite different from what we are used to, our teachers are fully capable of differentiating lessons to meet everyone’s needs, in fact, we’ve seen some benefits to this model during our Dive In and Discover weeks in the past.

When would you implement multi-grade cohorts?

Multi-grade groupings are a contingency plan and will only be implemented if the number of students opting into Home-Based Learning is low. For example, if there are only two kindergarten students and three first grade students who opt into Home-Based Learning, they would join one another in an online classroom. A multi-grade cohort would allow these students to build a Home-Based Learning community.

If enough (approximately 50%) families opt for full-time Home-Based Learning, we will have one class for each grade. In order to accommodate everyone’s needs, we are still aiming to create a system in which each homeroom teacher works with around 18 students. If fewer students are opting for Home-Based Learning, we will create multi-grade groups so that we have enough teachers remaining on campus to teach the on-campus students.

How will teaching multiple grades together work, and how will you differentiate?

Home-Based homeroom teachers will meet for Morning Meeting with the multi-grade cohort. This will be a time for building community among the students as well as to share the schedule for the day. In addition to asynchronous assignments, throughout the day, students will meet with the home-based homeroom teacher for small group and 1:1 instruction. These sessions will be tailored to the grade-level curriculum and student needs. Students will also meet with their grade level cohort for specialist classes.

How will the multi-grade teacher be determined? Do you know who that might be -- a homeroom teacher, or a specialist teacher?

The Home-Based teacher will be a homeroom teacher designated only to online learning. If the number of students opting for the Home-Based Learning model increases to more than 18, we will move additional on-campus homeroom teachers over to Home-Based Learning.

Is the multi-grade cohort only for Home-Based Learning?

Yes. We will only move to multi-grade cohorting if we need to. This will be determined by the number of students and families opting into Home-Base Learning.

Parent Support

For a student to be successful in Home-Based Learning, what are the real support expectations of parents during school hours?

Lower School
Our youngest students will need support in executive functioning skills and technology setup, particularly at the beginning of the school year. These areas will be addressed in homeroom classes, and students’ independence will grow as the year progresses; however, we are grateful for your partnership and support in ensuring your student’s success and access to online learning! If a family has extenuating circumstances, please be in touch with your student’s homeroom teacher.

Middle School
Support expectations for parents will vary from family to family, based on the degree of student need. By design, our schedule, lessons and focus on social/emotional development set students up for independence. As a start, parents should be familiar with the schedule, best practices for tech use, the modes of receiving and submitting assignments, as well as opportunities for communication with faculty. Setting strategic check-in times during the day to gauge progress and/or partnering with the school to coordinate school-based check-ins are also recommended. If a family has extenuating circumstances, please be in touch with your child’s advisor.

Will it be possible for parents to know the student’s schedule, ideally, weeks ahead of time so they can schedule for work meetings appropriately around student support needs?

Classes will, as much as possible, have a predictable weekly schedule and routine.

Questions about the Models

What is the process for transitioning between models? If families opt for Home-Based Learning first, will they be able to switch to Campus-Based Learning later?

If a student opts into Campus-Based Learning, they are able to switch to Home-Based Learning at any time if needed or preferred. If a student opts into Home-Based Learning, they will not be able to switch to Campus-Based Learning at will; however, there will be specific, but yet to be determined, transition points during the year where they will be given the option to change their model.

How many students in Home-Based Learning does it take for the school to shift more resources to Home-Based Learning?

There are multiple factors at play in the assignment of resources, safety being the primary factor. There isn’t a hard-and-fast number of students opting into one model or another that will determine a focus in either direction. That said, there will be an inflection point of sorts if enrollment in either Campus-Based or Home-Based reaches/surpasses the 50% mark.

If 50% of families opt for Home-Based Learning, will you consider more days per week on campus for the in-person students?

We currently do not have plans to create more days per week for Campus-Based Learning should a clear majority of families opt for the Home-Based model. We will consider iterations of our models if numbers drastically sway in any direction.

If enough families sign up for full-time Home-Based Learning, will you consider beefing up that model and making it more similar to the spring experience?

The model we are looking at for full-time Home-Based Learning will, in fact, be quite similar to the spring experience. Students will have a homeroom teacher and join specialists remotely.

I am concerned that kids virtually attending a class taught in person are unlikely to get as good an experience as when everyone is virtual. How will teachers be able to pay attention to the online kids? How does Owl address that?

Teachers will receive training in Owl technology and how best to engage learners both in the classroom and at home. We acknowledge the set up of this dual experience is not ideal, and we will put all efforts into making experiences as engaging and productive as possible.



How much of the traditional curriculum do you think will be covered?

Faculty have identified the core strands of the curriculum and will use these strands as the starting point. Throughout the year, faculty will adapt the traditional curriculum around these strands. They will continue to differentiate and meet students where they are as the year progresses.

How will you support students with learning/testing accommodations?

Learning Specialists and faculty will continue to work closely together to ensure all learning/testing accommodations are in place. 


How will you assess student progress and performance?

Assessment and feedback may look different logistically, but will still center on the same hallmarks of a Keys education: choice / multiple ways to show knowledge and growth, regard for process and not just product, emphasis on deep thinking and communication as opposed to just getting the answer.

Will tests/quizzes be on on-campus days only?

Summative assessments at Lower School take on many different forms, including check-ins, projects, and performance-based activities. These will occur both on-campus and remotely. At Middle School assessments can occur on-campus or remotely.

What will evaluations look like? Will there be grades or pass/fail?

Lower School
We are continuing to examine how we might best communicate with students and families in regards to formal reporting structures. More information will be coming regarding feedback.  

Middle School
Formal report cards will show “Credit” or “No Credit” for all classes. In addition, students will receive Skill Growth Reports, highlighting various skills and performance in relation to each subject.

How will individual feedback be delivered? (We would love to have personalized feedback delivered by the teacher in person or over video?)

Lower School
Whether through 1:1 discussions, small group work, questioning skills, or classroom observations, Lower School assessment is continuous and on-going. Using Seesaw and Zoom, teachers will provide students with regular timely feedback in addition to opportunities for student reflection.  

Middle School
Formative assessment will take place in a number of ways. Direct interaction with faculty, comments (written or audio) on submitted work, rubrics and/or recorded feedback will all be a part of the feedback loop. Office Hours will be another important place for students to receive informal feedback and guidance from faculty.

Subject Specific

Will there be after school sports?

We will need to take local public health requirements and guidelines into account as we consider extracurricular activities. The WBAL (West Bay Athletic League) has been working in concert with CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) to determine best and safest paths forward for sports programs.  As of this writing (7/31/20) Cross-Country, Flag Football, Boys Basketball and Girls Soccer seasons are cancelled until further notice.  Golf will remain an option, as it is easily converted to a socially distanced sport.  

Keys is working to create in-house athletic and competitive opportunities for students to enjoy. More to come on this.

What will replace outdoor ed?

We are examining options to replace and/or reimagine Outdoor Education, with hopes that it will be safe enough to embark on our spring trips, as usual or as close to usual as is feasible.

Will there be after school activities?

We are working to determine what after school activities are and are not possible. There will be more information coming on this topic.

Will the builder barn be open?

We are working to determine what recess activities are and are not possible. There will be more information on this topic when we get closer to returning to campus.

How many times a week will students have math?

Lower School
Both Campus and Home-Based models have math classes four or five times a week, with at least one of these sessions being with the Math Specialist in addition to the homeroom teacher.

Middle School
Both Campus and Home-Based models have math classes scheduled twice per week. Additionally, students will have a 30 minute Office Hour session where support and extensions to learning can take place.

Social Emotional Health

Is there any plan to help 5th graders transition into Middle School?

Fifth graders began their transition to Middle School in the spring. At that time, they had a chance to meet faculty and ask questions over Zoom. As we always do, advisors and Self Science work together to ensure adjustment to Middle School routines and expectations. We reach out to Sharon Diamond, the Lower School Counselor, and 4th grade teachers to consult if any issues arise for a particular student.

What will drop-off for Kindergarteners look like on the first day? After all this time at home, separation could be difficult, especially since parents won’t be able to come to the classroom.

As we are starting the school year in Distance Learning, students and teachers will have the opportunity to create community, connection, routines and rituals online that will assist in the transition to campus, when we meet in person. We will be given the unique opportunity to leverage those relationships and routines to assist with the transition. As always, we work with students and parents to communicate, acknowledge, support and work through the transition issues when students enter a new setting. We acknowledge that students in all grade levels will need support transitioning to campus after such a long time at home, but especially for those who are new to Keys.

If a young student is crying, can a teacher hug to comfort a child?

While expectations and safety protocols are still being refined, our teachers and staff will ensure that students are supported every step of the way. This is what we are known for! While physical touch is one way that teachers can comfort a student, we teach children about emotions and how their brain works during different emotional responses. Teachers help each student to create a toolbox of ways that can support themselves during different emotional scenarios. They help children to name their feelings and link them to a helpful calming tool. During emotional moments teachers use this toolbox to coach students through their feelings with gentle kindness and authenticity, treating each upset as a teachable moment. Even from a distance, the teacher will be there with love, coaching your child through it and linking them with self-soothing tools that are helpful to them. 

What will we do to reduce anxiety and promote resilience in our students?

Keys has always worked with students and families to facilitate social emotional skills and build resilience. This year, we will be incorporating many additional opportunities for students to check in with feelings and learn new strategies to develop regulation and consequently, build resilience. Our SEL/Mental Health Task Force is developing a “tool kit” for students and teachers to address these needs. We will be sharing weekly tools with parents as well. Additionally, families should continue to address their own concerns away from children in order to model calm, healthy coping skills that reassure children of their safety, normalize routines, and help with regulating emotion.

Relevant Articles/Information:
Promoting Children’s Resilience– A guide for caretakers, highlight the 3 R’s. Some of these are steps that teachers will be doing as they build connections.

With so much handwashing and physical distancing, how can we avoid traumatizing kids, so that they do not develop a fear of touching, germs, etc?

ALL adults can and should model a calm, reasonable approach to handwashing and physical distancing, just as we do with other community expectations. Helping students to gain a sense of self-efficacy will help create a feeling of control, which can assist in understanding how to counter anxiety and fear. When we observe children appearing anxious and fearful, we will do what we always do: collaborate with parents to support the child.

Health and Safety

Mitigation Efforts

Recent evidence suggests that stagnant air in a closed space is the most risky situation. What is Keys doing to ensure the recycled air is purified? Will you force doors and windows to stay open during classes? Will Keys consider air purifiers/ventilators/HEPA filters/HVAC systems?

Recognizing the importance of clean air, we will be taking a multi-step approach to ensure air quality in our different spaces. This may include open doors and windows, use of fans, air purifiers or higher air flow rates through existing air movement systems. Additionally we are upgrading our HVAC air filters to increase the efficiency of the removal of airborne virus particles (MERV 13 or higher).

Is there any way to get more classes outside?

Faculty are encouraged to hold classes outside whenever possible. Additionally, faculty are encouraged to move students outside for routine breaks with fresh air.

What does the cleaning process look like? What products do we plan to clean with?

Daily cleaning and sanitizing of all spaces shall occur according to the CDC’s recommendations and guidelines for schools using CDC recommended products. Areas will be decluttered to reduce contact surfaces and enhance the cleaning process. Bathrooms, handwashing stations and other high contact areas will be cleaned and sanitized multiple times throughout the school day. Additionally, we will be increasing the size of our maintenance staff to ensure frequent and thorough cleaning processes.


Logistically, how will you queue up 36 kids per grade to wash hands at a minimum of sinks/bathrooms?

Grouped in their smaller cohorts, students will wash their hands at regular and scheduled intervals that are incorporated in the daily schedule. To facilitate handwashing, we have installed a number of additional handwashing stations at both campuses. Sinks on both campuses have been converted to ‘touchless’ on/off faucets. All students, faculty and staff will be trained in proper handwashing protocols on campus.

How will you enforce handwashing, social distancing, and mask wearing for young children?

Hygiene breaks are intentionally worked into the schedule to ensure handwashing takes place regularly.  Classrooms are designed to maintain social distance expectations. Mask wearing will also be set as an expectation. Teaching students to uphold these standards, to recognize and implement each of these will be a top priority once Campus-Based Learning is in play.

How will you arrange kids’ restroom time to avoid crowds?

As much as possible, we will stagger student use of bathrooms to avoid crowding. In addition to that, we will have specific bathrooms for each cohort’s unique use.

14-Day "Quarantine"

What does Keys mean, specifically, when it asks families to “quarantine” for 14 days prior to a return to campus?

We are requesting that community members observe a 14-day quarantine prior to returning to campus. While Keys won’t be setting a specific mandate, nor are we allowed to, we do ask you to thoughtfully consider how much exposure you/your family has, and to limit your exposure to the essentials of daily life (e.g. essential doctor appointments, thoughtfully planned grocery store trips, required work outside the home, etc).

What if you have been traveling during the school year, do you need to quarantine before returning to school?

Please be in touch with school administration if you intend to travel.

If a child is home because of a cold, or quarantining, are they able to immediately switch over to Home-Based Learning?

Students who need to quarantine or to be home for any reason will be able to join the Home-Based Learning model.

What is the protocol if one student, teacher, or family member of a student in a cohort becomes infected? Would the cohort all be required to quarantine for 14 days?

The full cohort (students and faculty) would be considered “close contacts” (see Reopening of Santa Clara County K-12 Schools, pg. 19). If any person in that cohort was infected with COVID, then all “close contacts” should quarantine. The full cohort would be sent home and need to quarantine for 14 days. During the 14 day quarantine, each person in the cohort would be asked to test at both day #7 and on day #14. Once both test results are negative, the person is cleared and can return to school. If only one of the tests is negative (and one positive), the person needs to quarantine an additional 10 days and retest.


Would the state provide easy/accessible testing for teachers and school administrators on a regular basis?

At this time, the state/county governments are not providing testing for teachers and school administrators. 

Without regular testing, one may not even realize that he/she is a carrier. Will teachers be getting regular Covid tests, since asymptomatic people can also spread the virus?

As of this writing (7/28/20), teachers are Tier III recipients of testing and turnaround test-result times are not yet highly efficient. Testing priority goes to those who have symptoms, those who are high risk, and those who are essential medical workers. We are working with infectious disease experts in our community to find ways to access reliable testing and faster turnaround times.

Health Screening

Will you do temperature checks everyday before kids and faculty enter campus?

Keys employees will not be physically checking the temperatures of students each day. Instead, we will be sharing a digital at-home Health Screening tool where students’ and faculty/staff temperatures (and any other possible symptoms) will be screened daily (required), prior to attending school.

Given that there is increased evidence of pre-symptomatic transmission, how will you stay ahead of this curve if you are only screening for kids who are symptomatic already and on campus?

By screening at home, before coming to campus, we hope to keep a greater number of students/teachers at home before bringing the symptoms to campus. 

We are being intentional about cohorting so that we can easily conduct contact tracing should an individual display any symptoms of COVID along with quarantining individuals within a cohort of exposure.

We will have a high standard of hygiene (handwashing and mask wearing), social distancing, and cleaning practices to help minimize exposure.

Face Coverings

Can students wear face shields or face masks? Or will there be one that is required?

Per Santa Clara County guidelines, students should wear cloth or disposable face masks. If a student is unable to wear a face mask, a humanitarian face shield (face shield with an attached cloth portion extending below) is an option.

Does my child need to bring their own mask?

Yes.  We ask that families provide their own masks with students’ names in them. We will not provide masks. We will have extras if one is lost or broken. You will receive more specific information about masks closer to campus reopening.


Is it OK to bring lunch boxes and backpacks?

Yes. We encourage families to label all items sent to campus (including sweaters and jackets) with the child’s name to reduce the need for a communal lost and found.

What about the train and shuttle?

Given current safety standards and county regulations for social distancing, we are unable to offer shuttle bus transportation either between campuses, or to/from the train stations. 


How are the teachers feeling about returning to campus?

Teachers have an open dialogue with the Leadership Team about the reopening of campuses. As of this writing, some teachers are ready to return to campus and others have concerns about doing so. The school has held and continues to hold faculty meetings over the summer to update the staff on the campuses’ reopening, our risk mitigation strategies, and access to infectious disease expert presentations. Our goal is to keep faculty and staff informed of Keys risk mitigation strategies and plans, and to keep the door open for faculty to share their feelings about returning to campus.

Will all teachers be teaching on campus, or will some be teaching from home?

Some faculty will be on campus teaching and some faculty will teach from home (or school) and Zoom into classes. There may be some faculty that work from home due to high-risk medical situations.

How do teachers feel about managing a blended and Home-Based model?

The pandemic has disrupted how education happens and is delivered. Teachers value being in a classroom with all their students. That is what they trained for and that is their preference. Teachers acknowledge that managing blended and Home-Based models will involve a learning curve and hard work, and they are up for the challenge.

It seems like teachers are being asked to teach twice as many classes. How is that possible? Will you be hiring more teachers to staff the diff cohorts?

In order to maintain stable cohorts, we have increased the Lower School faculty to include an additional kindergarten teacher and kindergarten assistant/associate. We have also added an assistant/associate to both our first and second grade grades. The teaching load has changed, somewhat, for all teachers. That said, we feel our schedule design is manageable and we are working closely to identify areas of overload and/or concern. We fully recognize the fact that if teachers are not at their best, they cannot offer optimal experiences to students. We are deeply committed to ensuring their well-being throughout the year.


Will you share the survey results with us from the Required Parent Form? How many families opted for Home-Based versus Campus-Based Blended Learning?

Because we made the decision to begin the year with Distance Learning before the parent survey data was fully completed, the data set is incomplete. We will need to survey our community once again as we move closer to reopening campus.

How are we ensuring the safety and privacy of electronic health screening data, OWL recordings, Zoom communications, etc.?

We are committed to respecting the privacy of and protecting any personal information of our constituents. When partnering with a third party, we ensure their privacy policy adheres to and is compliant with applicable student privacy laws, including COPPA, FERPA, and CCPA.

We only give access to the appropriate employees the information they are entitled to see. All links to sensitive information, scheduled Zoom calls and recordings are either shared directly with constituents or behind the password on KeysNet.