Private elementary school parents -- How is it going?

I am beginning to hear that private schools are opening up. Our friends at EBI just began in-person instruction. We would be particularly interested in learning more about how the following schools' in-person instruction is going. We are in OUSD and there's virtually no meaningful learning happening at school. I have no idea if private schools are accepting students right now. The cost is a big concern, but it's heart breaking knowing that my kids are falling behind their friends in private school and cousins in other countries that are managing the pandemic better and have opened schools up many months ago. American public school kids are falling behind and CA public school kids are in trouble. I cannot see how public schools will be able to open up safely until the pandemic is over, whenever that may be.  I have been a supporter of public schools and have kept my kids in public school, but I'm not sure anymore when I feel that online public school education is a big waste of time and the only thing my kids are learning is tricks to look like they're paying attention to combat boredom and how to do cool virtual background on zoom... Academically, all of my kids are ahead, so they're not learning new materials either and teachers are not able to provide differentiated learning.

I know very little about the below schools but they are geographically the closest to where we live. Mill College school is almost $10k cheaper than other schools, so it's a very attractive option even though it's far from our house. 

- Aurora

- Park Day

- St. Paul

- Bentley

- Mills College Children's School

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We are a St. Paul's family and are pretty satisfied with how it's going. St. Paul's is definitely taking a slower path back to in-person than some of the other schools on your list, but I have deep appreciation for the fact that they are letting teacher and family comfort levels guide the pace, with frequent check-ins and a great deal of communication and transparency (and honesty/humility about how uncharted these waters are). We are happy with how the distance learning aspect is going--it's a lot more live time than our OUSD friends have (and sometimes flirts with too much) but the structure has worked well for our kids, and they are making steady academic progress and maintaining social-emotional connections, which is all I can ask for in this moment. Differentiation even in the remote environment has been good (and was strong pre-COVID as well). I will say that the in-person time, as it ramps up, is still very short relative to the good old days of aftercare until 6, so proximity to school matters more than ever. Reopening plans are posted on each school's website, so I'd take a look to see how their approaches to both in-person and distance learning vary. I'd also note, on the cost front, that most/all of these schools do offer flexible tuition/financial aid and it's absolutely worth asking about before assuming a school costs too much, especially if you have more than one child. Good luck--it is so tough to navigate all of this right now!

We have a child at The Academy in Berkeley and have been happy with their remote learning program. Kindergarten is returning to school this week and then the other grades will slowly return. Kids must have a negative Covid test before returning.

If you are looking for less expensive private schools, check out the catholic schools. St. Theresa School is a good option. 

We were in the same boat as you, and after the difficult spring decided over the summer to switch our child from our well-regarded OUSD school to a small, non-religious private school in Lamorinda. At the time, many (but not all) of the private schools we spoke to in Oakland were accepting new students because there has been so much flux due to Covid. It's with mixed emotions that I say we have been thrilled with the switch, because we also very deliberately chose Oakland public schools when my child began elementary. But this situation is just bonkers, and it wasn't sustainable for our family to keep going the way we had been in the spring. We have been blown away by how organized and data-driven the new school has been. The online learning has been as good as it can be. My child was in online classes from 8:45 - 2:45 each day, with ample breaks of course, and which included many "extras" multiple times a week, such as Spanish, PE, Music and art, with dedicated, excellent teachers for each. They set the bar high academically, and it was an adjustment for all of us to help my child keep up with the schoolwork and to be accountable. The school just reopened for in-person instruction a week ago and it's all going well, my child loves being back, but obviously there may be a roller coaster ahead. There is a parent-driven Covid task force, close cooperation and ongoing communication with the Contra Costa Health Dept, and the school had the resources and the small size to swiftly meet all of the safety requirements, apply for the waiver, and reopen. However, we are fully aware of the risks involved in returning to in-person learning, and we're bracing for the notification someday that an exposure has occurred in my child's cohort. Unfortunately I think you just need to be prepared for that if you're going to send your kid to in-person instruction while we're in the middle of a pandemic. Anyway, I had to respond, because like you, I felt that the "handwriting was on the wall" for the upcoming year, and maybe even 2021-2022, given that children are unlikely to be allowed to get a Covid vaccine anytime soon. Anecdotally, 2 families from my child's class have moved away already during the school year, so I would imagine there may be spaces available at some of the schools you're interested in if you contact them.

I'm so sorry OUSD is not doing more for your kids. That is totally unacceptable. My kid attends TRIS (The Renaissance International School). I am pretty sure they are accepting new students since many moved away due to the pandemic. Elementary school is a hybrid right now (2 days in person, 3 at home), but will be reopening fully as soon as they get the green light from county health. Estimated end of October/beginning of November. There will also continue to be a fully online option because some parents need it.

The school is amazing, and in normal times I recommend it to everyone. It is very different right now, though they are doing their best to retain their high standards. Engaging remote content is being provided, though at my kid's age (6) it requires a lot of parental help. If your kids are older this will be less of an issue for you. And of course it won't be an issue once they're back in person.

The school is trilingual, so normally a class will have three teachers (one English, one French, and one Spanish). Because of the "pod" limits they can only have two in-person teachers at a time right now. So they rotate every few weeks as allowed by the county guidelines. When, say, the French teacher is not with them in their pod, then they will do remote lessons with her. Then when she's back with them they will have remote lessons with the Spanish teacher, etc. Music and art have been all remote. PE is happening in person with the teacher very distanced outside. I'm actually surprised at how well my child has been engaged by the remote art and music lessons, since those are definitely key elements of the school normally that are just NOT the same via zoom. Amazingly they have been going well though.

So, in a nutshell, you won't be getting the full TRIS experience right now. That said, it's going to be the same story at every school. I am satisfied with what the school is providing, even if it's very difficult for our family right now with all the supervision needed.

Hope that gives you an idea of what to expect. I'm sorry to say the tuition is high, and it feels easier to pay it when all aspects of the school and school community are functioning. Given the astronomical cost of safely operating a school with the current requirements, though, I can't see that the school has any choice in regards to tuition. The head of school had been sharing what they've had to do in terms of infrastructure, testing, cleaning, and duplicate supplies -- it's nearly impossible. Seriously. This is why public schools arent open yet. That said, there's no excuse for how OUSD is handling remote school. I hope your kids can find a better situation.

Hi there - My two kids are at Crestmont School on Arlington Blvd on the EC/Richmond border.  Our campus is open and it's been so so great being back.  Kindergarten has been on campus since early last month, and now 1st-3rd grades are on campus too.  Grades 4-7 will be rolled on in the next few weeks.  Crestmont set up tents and are conducting classes largely outside, which the kids love, along with outdoor handwashing stations.  The class sizes have been capped very low (ranging from 9-14 per class, mostly on the lower end), and three classes have a full-time dedicated aide in addition to a classroom teacher.  The school just had an onsite Covid-19 testing day today so students, staff, and families could get tested proactively, and of course everyone is wearing masks (which is going surprisingly well).  My kids are so thrilled to be back.  You don't say which grades your kids are in, but I think Crestmont has 2-3 openings left for the current year in the on-campus program.  (They have a fully distance learning program for grades 2-3, and that class has several openings, for families who want to do distance learning all year.)  Good luck with your search and hope you find a good fit for your family!

We send our kids to private school (the academy). The zoom classes are high quality, and the school is now reopening. But, the space is smaller than that of other local private schools, so there is necessarily more crowding, and the covid precautions seem more limited. 

Also, the kids stay at a high academic level in part through extensive homework; parental involvement requirements have been particularly high since March.

Berkwood Hedge is another local school perhaps worth considering; their academics are not outstanding, but they are conducting all activities outdoors.

Supplementing with "outschool" could also be cost-effective. We tried different classes this summer, and were quite pleased with paying $5-10 for a 6 person class with a high quality instructor. (Their website is well set up and allows you to easily search by time, age group, and instructor reviews).

We switched my daughter to Berkwood Hedge this year for similar reasons.
The school is now open for classes for all grades (K-5), fives days a week and they currently have some openings in some grades.
We are happy with the steps they've taken to ensure that everyone is safe and we really enjoy the small, caring community.