Dear Cypress Parents,

We are excited to begin our new distance learning program for the 2020-2021 school year on Tuesday, August 18th.  You should have received a schedule with zoom links from your teacher.  We are requesting that all families log in to the first morning meeting at 9:00 a.m., even if students can only briefly attend.  For students who are more successful in smaller group or individual zooms, aides and therapists can break off from the whole group.  For students who have a hard time with zoom, we have a number of ways students can participate in the Cypress program.  I have included some examples on the following sheet.  We are required to develop a distance learning plan and take daily attendance based on student engagement. 

According to Sonoma County Office of Education, distance learning engagement consists of one of the following: participation in live daily interaction (such as zoom), participation in online activities, or completion of regular assignments.  They have also specified that two-way communication must occur each school day between credentialed staff, and each student (or parent).  Absences must be reported to the school district and students who miss 3 days in a week require a re-engagement intervention. 


It is critical that parents coordinate a distance learning plan with their teacher and maintain daily contact to continue in the Cypress program.  Please respond to Cypress communications, even just to confirm receipt of assignments.  Students not attending the morning meeting will be contacted by their assigned staff to create and review their daily schedule.  Staff will also provide regular material drop offs to students. 

These new state requirements are intended to provide a rigorous school program and accountability for schools.  It demands increased expectations for parents and families supporting students at home who are not independent learners.  Our goal as a school is to provide a curriculum that is at our students’ instructional level and challenges them to continue to grow.  At the same time, Cypress has always informally assessed student abilities, which we know can be greatly impacted by stress and environmental factors, to adjust our expectations and provide support to cope with stress and regulate emotions. 

Communication between home and school is crucial to adjust expectations based on the behavior patterns that we want to encourage and reinforce, and others we want to reduce or eliminate.  We need input from families to determine whether students are in a place to be challenged, to maintain a routine and avoid regression, or in crisis.  This will inform what assignments are most appropriate.  Families experiencing behavioral challenges, whether related to school activities or not, should notify your teacher and access our behavior team to establish and implement a plan to reset and review strategies for prevention and intervention of target behaviors.  Our staff can usually pick up on subtle cues from students during in-person instruction but this is more difficult to sense and respond to remotely.  You are our eyes and ears in person and your input is vital to supporting student success. 

Progress is not a straight line.  Our staff know that the schedule may say reading, or math on it, but students may actually be learning how to ask for a break appropriately, how to get someone’s attention, or access a regulation strategy such as a fidget, headphones, special cushion or weighted lap pillow to help focus.  Routines are really important during this time, so Cypress is hoping to compliment your daily routine, not to disrupt it.  We know that families may be experiencing unique challenges due to the shelter-in-place, some performing essential work outside of the home, others working from home, all while performing the essential and demanding work of caring for a child with special needs. 

Cypress is committed to meeting the state and local school district requirements in order to retain our workforce so that we are ready when in-person instruction can resume.  Cypress does not exist to meet those requirements, but to meet the needs of our students.  We are all frustrated that we cannot accomplish that goal as fully as we would like.  With your support, we will continue to identify and creatively meet those needs as well as we can.  We hope to continue to provide you with the tools that have been successful at school adapted for the home setting, to meet the challenges our students have always had, compounded by the additional challenges that result from this pandemic.  We are evolving our distance plan to better work for our students and families based on your input and feedback that will continue to be a part of our schoolyear in some form.  We are also planning for what in-person support will look like when that is available to offer and exploring the ways we can provide that.  More on that in the coming weeks.  Please join our next Parent’s Meeting on zoom on Monday August 24, at 2:30 p.m. and thank you for being such an integral part of our Cypress community. 


Nate Yates

Director of Educational and Behavioral Services

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