Peninsula Heritage School

Safe Space

Peninsula Heritage School introduces a plan to welcome students and teachers safely back to campus this fall.

Written by Laura L. Watts | Photographed by Steve Gaffney

Fostering students’ intellectual, social and ethical growth in a loving and caring environment has always been the mission of Peninsula Heritage School, and they plan to do just that at their two spacious campuses starting September 1. Peninsula Heritage School plans to open for in-person learning for kindergarten through eighth grade students, offering small class sizes with two teachers in each room.

“Connection and relationships are a very important part of how we teach at Peninsula Heritage School.”

Detailed procedures have been designed at multiple levels to ensure that all students, faculty and staff will be learning, working and thriving in a safe and nurturing environment. Based on the guidance of federal, state and county health authorities, as well as the California Association of Independent Schools and the National Association of Independent Schools, Peninsula Heritage’s comprehensive campus reopening plan hopes to mitigate and reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, while balancing the important need for students to resume in-person learning with peers.

Under the direction of head of school Dr. Cindy P. Chun and associate head of school Pauline Rowe, Peninsula Heritage teachers immediately and seamlessly moved to an online format in March after the safer-at-home orders were mandated. Through live lessons and small group discussions, the students continued to be immersed in both academics and enrichment programs. Just as importantly, they enjoyed personal connection with other students as well as their teachers.

“Connection and relationships are a very important part of how we teach at Peninsula Heritage School, so we scheduled individual check-in meetings to ensure that our students still had personal, one-on-one time with their teachers,” explains Dr. Chun. During these times, students were able to share their thoughts and concerns, to clarify concepts with which they were having challenges, to receive help with homework or to simply tell jokes.

In June, the school honored graduating eighth graders with a brief, outdoor, masked and socially distanced ceremony for graduates and their immediate family members. The event was livestreamed so friends and relatives could participate in the occasion.

This summer, director of facilities Helen Sacco is working with staff on the many physical plant aspects that will be changed for the fall. Electrostatic sprayers will be used nightly and as needed to thoroughly disinfect classrooms. Maintenance staff will regularly clean bathrooms and high-touch surfaces throughout the day. The school has obtained infrared thermometers, disinfecting and sanitizing supplies, and other items needed for everyone’s safety and protection.

For those who choose to not come back to campus in person, a remote learning program will be offered. These students will learn through simultaneous streaming of classroom lessons and discussions, enhanced with asynchronous teacher-student discussions and question-and-answer periods.

What hasn’t changed is that Peninsula Heritage teachers plan for student success by differentiating instruction to maximize each child’s learning potential. Nurtured by caring faculty, students’ joy in learning soars and thrives. “Teaching students to understand how they learn best and what skills will help them be most successful is essential to why students flourish at Peninsula Heritage,” shares Dr. Chun. “The strong relationships that are built with their teachers allow students to take risks in their learning and push themselves outside their comfort zones, maximizing their potential.”

Character education—a tenet of the school’s foundation since 1961—is taught and integrated into all aspects of the curriculum. These include: caring, attitude, respect, gratitude, self-control and perseverance. Enrichment programs in academics are another hallmark of the school, allowing students to learn at a higher grade level while remaining with same-age peers. Cocurricular offerings encourage students to discover and enhance their individual interests and talents.

Peninsula Heritage School invites interested parents to email Jill Smithey, director of admission, at [email protected] for more information.