Greetings Cypress Community,

Teachers have resumed Distance Learning programming for our Extended School Year.  We continue to adapt this part of our program to make it more meaningful, engaging, and effective.  At the same time, we have continued to make preparations to resume in-person instruction when we are able.  Teachers are purging all but the essentials, spacing desks 6 feet apart, and making adjustments to their daily and weekly routines to pause higher-risk activities and replace them with lower risk activities.  

We held a training of a small group of staff this week on campus with face coverings and proper spacing to prepare for the new normal.  We reviewed what will be commonplace for all schools in the fall including health screening with questionnaires and touchless temperature checks, face coverings, handwashing, sanitizing and disinfecting, and stable cohort groupings to minimize physical contact with other groups.  We discussed the particular challenges posed with our unique population and some of the positive aspects of our distinctive setting.  We acknowledged the awkward feeling of masks and physical distancing and discussed the increased significance of social and emotional supports for our students.  We talked about modifying activities that promote belonging in our school community to avoid a feeling of isolation when physical isolation between groups is recommended.  We look forward to utilizing the outdoors as a preferred and low-risk location for community-based instruction.    

We have received conflicting reports about plans for fall from school leaders.  All we know for sure for now is that we don’t know yet what the fall will look like.  There is on the one hand, the consensus of the limitations and inequities inherent in remote learning that continue to lead to achievement gaps and regression.  On the other, the legitimate concerns for the health and safety of students and staff and the risks of increased exposure as restrictions loosen and we slowly reopen remains.  Everyone’s situation is unique and perspective completely valid.  At Cypress, we pride ourselves on our flexibility and will look for ways to meet our student’s needs while continuing to follow the best practices to minimize risks and maintain the health and safety of our community. 

Cypress School is not only a physical space, but the space we have imagined where we can coexist as our best selves.  It is also a place, when we don’t feel our best, we are met with compassion, understanding, and acceptance.  We will have to do some things differently, but our values will guide us to make sure we can continue to inhabit that space we have imagined and collectively, continually create.  Many of us are anxious to get back to normal.  With this time to reflect on what we value and what we miss about the way things were, we also are surprised to discover some things that seemed important at the time, don’t seem quite so vital.  Rather than go back to normal, we find ourselves with the opportunity to align our actions and values more closely, and to make choices that create the safe space where we can be our best selves.  After all, why settle for normal?  We know there are much more interesting things we can be.   


Nate Yates

Director of Educational and Behavioral Services

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