Skip to main content

You are here

COVID-19 Safety Plan

The following health and safety plan is intended for when Synergy School reopens for in-person instruction (hybrid learning). The protocols and guidelines are based on recommendations of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and other sources regarding the prevention of COVID-19 in schools. We will update this plan as new information about the virus emerges.

Phase 1 Reopening - October 26, 2020

Phase 2 Reopening - November 9, 2020

Phase 3 Reopening - November 30, 2020

Risk Acknowledgement Form

Parents/guardians will be required to sign a Risk Acknowledgement Form before their child returns to school for in-person instruction. The form will be uploaded to their BigSIS parent portal.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

All classrooms and offices have a supply of cleaning products and staff have been trained on recommended procedures for cleaning and disinfecting various surfaces, including high-touch surfaces and shared devices and supplies. (The school has purchased additional supplies and computer devices to minimize the need for sharing among students.) In addition, our custodial service will provide supplemental cleaning during the school day for high-traffic, high-touch areas throughout the school, such as the bathrooms, stairway railings, and door handles. The use of an electrostatic sprayer will be used for nightly disinfecting. See our Cleaning and Disinfecting Guidelines.

Small Stable Cohorts

Students in each classroom have been split into two cohort groups. Cohort size ranges from 8 to 14 students depending on the grade level. Cohort A will have in-person instruction on Mondays and Thursdays and Cohort B will have in-person instruction on Tuesdays and Fridays. All students will work remotely on Wednesdays.

  • The TK-8 teaching teams will teach both cohorts in their classroom.
  • Specialist teachers will hold classes via Zoom during student at home days.
  • One member of the extended care staff will be assigned to a TK-5 classroom to provide after school care.
  • No morning care or extended care for middle school students will be available.
  • Cohorts will have assigned areas on the yards for staggered recess and lunch, as well as staggered schedules for outdoor breaks. Students will be reminded to minimize contact with students in other cohorts.
  • School staff will only enter a classroom that they have been assigned to teach in, except in emergencies. In cases of emergency, staff will document that visit to ensure accurate contract tracing.


Outdoor Instruction

The outdoor space on campus is not large enough to accommodate instructional activities for all classrooms. There are also logistical issues related to teaching tools and materials. Instead, the use of the yards will primarily serve to give each classroom frequent breaks, in addition to staggered recess and lunch, weather and air quality permitting.

Entrance, Egress, and Movement Within the School
  • No one displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed on campus.
  • No non-essential visitors, including parents and caregivers, will be permitted in the school. To minimize the mixing of cohorts, we have developed drop-off and pick-up protocols for parents/caregivers to follow.
  • Parent door codes have been disabled; please call 415 567-6177 or email the office if you would like to come into the building.
  • No on-site tours or open houses will be conducted.
  • Specific routes have been marked and designated for entry and exit for each cohort.
  • Barriers and signs have been placed in the building to ensure upstairs and downstairs cohorts use separate hallways, stairways, and bathrooms.


Face Coverings and Other Essential Protective Gear

We are requiring all adults and students to wear face coverings while at school to prevent the spread of infection. This includes family members and caregivers dropping off or picking up students. We also ask all members of our community to wear face coverings in public per the San Francisco health order dated July 22, 2020. See CDPH Guidelines on Face Coverings for more information.

  • Face coverings or masks must cover both the nose and mouth at all times. Watch this video on proper mask usage.
  • The school encourages the use of two or three-layer cotton masks.
  • Students who are unable to wear a mask because of documented medical contraindications are encouraged to continue with distance learning. If they attend school, they will be seated six feet from other students. 
  • Staff who are unable to wear a mask because of documented medical contraindications are required to continue to work from home.
  • Face masks with valves (exhalation valves or vents) are prohibited in the school since they do not prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Other face coverings prohibited include tea towel or dishcloth, cotton t-shirt, natural silk, scarf or bandana, and one-layer neck gaiters.
  • Face shields will not be used in place of face coverings, except perhaps by students who have a medical exemption.
  • The school will keep a supply of face coverings for individuals who have forgotten to bring one. Anyone not exempt from wearing a mask will be excluded from campus if they refuse to wear one provided by the school.
  • Teachers and staff have been provided with face shields and are required to wear both a mask and shield when working with students, especially when 6-feet distance cannot be maintained.


Health Screenings for Students and Staff

The parents/caregivers of students must complete a daily health screening form for their child or children before arriving at school. The form will be accessible via the school’s ParentSquare communications platform and mobile app. All staff members and any adults entering the building must also complete the health screening form.

  • Students and staff who display symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to stay home and encouraged to get tested as soon as possible or consult their health care provider.
  • Students and staff who become sick at school or display symptoms of COVID-19 while at school will be sent home immediately. They will be encouraged to get tested as soon as possible or consult their health care provider.
  • Students with symptoms will be placed in a designated area separate from classrooms to await pick-up. Upon their parent/caregiver’s arrival, the student will meet their pick-up person outside if possible.


Healthy Hygiene Practices

Hand washing stations and hand sanitizer are located in all classrooms and teachers will develop routines and schedules for students to wash or sanitize their hands at staggered intervals, especially before and after eating, upon entering/re-entering a classroom, and before and after touching shared supplies. Shared supplies have been minimized with the purchase of additional supplies, laptops, and iPads. In addition, hand-sanitizing stations have been placed at the entrances to the school and signs encouraging hand washing have been posted throughout the building.

To support good hygiene habits, touchless faucets have been installed in all bathrooms and touchless water bottle filling stations have replaced the upstairs and downstairs water fountains. The water fountains on the yards have been covered and are off-limits.

Identification and Contact Tracing

The school will follow SFDPH guidance for when someone has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. We have a designated liaison to SFDPH and designated staff to conduct contact tracing. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, Cynthia Louie, administrative coordinator, will contact the SFDPH Schools and Childcare Hub as soon as possible. [415 554-2830 or] SFDPH will help to determine if a classroom, cohort, or school needs to be closed.

Cynthia Louie and Becky Barmore, school secretary, will support the contact tracing process, by identifying individuals who had close contact with the person with COVID-19. Exposed individuals will be notified, told how to get tested, and given protocols for when they can return to school.  

Physical Distancing
In the Classroom
  • All classrooms have been re-configured to maintain physical distance as much as possible.
  • Staff will maintain 6-feet distance from students and other adults when feasible.
  • Student desks or seating will be separated by a minimum of 4 to 6 feet, along with the use of sneeze guards when less than 6 feet.
  • Students will be assigned seating and positioned to minimize face-to-face contact, unless a sneeze guard is used.
  • Physical distancing signs and floor markings have been placed in classrooms.
  • Teachers will provide students with verbal reminders about maintaining physical distancing.
Outside the Classroom
  • Activities on the yards during recess, lunch, and breaks will prevent interactions between cohorts, including the use of staggered schedules on the yards. Eliminating the mixing between cohorts will be prioritized over the distancing of students within a cohort.
  • Physical distancing signs and floor markings have been placed in common areas such as the hallways and bathrooms.
  • Signs limiting occupancy have been placed in bathrooms, elevators, staff room, and similar shared spaces to allow physical distancing.
  • The use of upstairs lubbies (lockers) will be prohibited.
  • Teachers will provide students with verbal reminders about maintaining physical distancing.
Adult Workspaces
  • Offices, the staff room (the Little Room), and the Art Room have been reconfigured to allow for 6-feet physical distancing.
  • Each adult workspace will have signs limiting occupancy.
  • Employees who do not need to work at school have the flexibility to work from home.
  • All adult meetings will be virtual, including parent-teacher meetings, staff and team meetings, and other committee or group meetings.


Ventilation and Windows

The school will maximize the use of windows, exterior doors to yards, interior doors to the hallway, and the ventilation system to maximize intake of fresh air and minimize recirculated air. Every classroom has windows that open to the outside and doors to hallways for cross-breeze. Some classrooms also have doors with direct access to the yards and others have skylights.

When windows and doors must remain closed because of poor air quality as in the case of recent wildfires, each classroom and office will use portable air purifiers with HEPA-filters. Classrooms are equipped with Blueair Blue Pure 121 Air Purifiers. The larger Big Room has a Blueair ProXL purifier. Offices have either a Blueair 411 or Coway Airmega. The building’s heating, ventilation, and air condition [HVAC] system has been equipped with MERV-13 filters and all ducts have been cleaned in preparation for in-person instruction.

See our Ventilation Guidelines.

Community Health Pledge

As part of the school’s Risk Acknowledgement Form, we have included an agreement asking our teachers, staff, and families to practice COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures outside of school, e.g., physical distancing, wearing face coverings, practicing healthy hygiene, limiting mixing, etc. Our school’s core value of keeping a safe space for everyone includes doing our part to protect our community.

Staff Training and Family Education

Members of the educational cooperative have been involved in the development of the school’s health and safety plans. They have also reviewed the application to reopen and our protocols for enforcement of the plan. We will regularly review our protocols at weekly staff meetings. A copy of our safety plan will be provided to our community, with reminders about protocols in our weekly notice. In addition, we have held a community meeting via Zoom to explain our safety plan and families’ responsibilities to ensure its success. We have provided parents with the slide presentation from the meeting as well as a recording of the meeting itself.


Testing of Students and Staff
Periodic Testing

Teachers and staff will be tested 7 days prior to the start of in-person instruction and periodically thereafter to detect asymptomatic infections. The cost of tests will be covered by their health insurance and any out-of-pocket costs will be paid by the school. We will also encourage all families to get tested before the start of in-person instruction.

Testing for Symptoms/Exposures

Students and staff who display symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 at school will be asked to get tested and receive the SFDPH Interim Guidance for Ending Isolation or Returning to School while waiting for test results. The out-of-pocket cost of testing for students exposed at school will be covered by the school.

Testing Data

All testing data (positive and negative results) will be shared with SFDPH.


Data and Evaluation

The school will cooperate with SFDPH data collection efforts to measure and monitor COVID-19 transmission, and evaluate and ensure the effectiveness of infection prevention and control measures. Administrative Coordinator Cynthia Louie and School Secretary Becky Barmore will be responsible for the following:

  • Track illnesses and absences in the school and log information in a shared spreadsheet.
  • Determine if illnesses or absences are COVID-related.
  • Provide guidance on isolation protocols and encourage testing.
  • Report test results to SFDPH and determine next steps (including notifications and contact tracing).
  • Determine return date based on SFDPH protocols.


Plans for Simultaneous Distance Learning

The school will provide simultaneous distance learning in the event that students must stay home in case they have underlying health conditions, are in isolation or quarantine, and/or choose to stay home for distance learning.

See Synergy’s Simultaneous Distance Learning Plan.


Triggers for Switching to Distance Learning

The school will use the following criteria to determine when to physically close the building and prohibit in-person instruction.

  • When ordered to do so by state and/or local authorities
  • When advised by SFDPH after COVID cases are confirmed in multiple cohorts
  • When confirmed cases affect 5% of students and staff (approximately 11 people)
  • When community spread reaches the purple tier on the state's watch list
  • When air quality reaches the unhealthy range


Communication Plans

The school will follow SFDPH guidance for when someone has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. All school staff, families, and students will be notified via ParentSquare or email when a confirmed case has been confirmed. The identity of the person affected will not be disclosed, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

Communications Scenarios:
  • Child or staff has symptoms of COVID-19: Provide COVID-19 Health Checks
  • Child or staff had close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19: Cohort remains open and staff and families in cohort are notified.
  • Child or staff has confirmed COVID-19 infection: Notify SFDPH, close cohort for 14 days from last exposure, notify staff and families.



Synergy School was founded on the values of equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice. As part of our response to the pandemic and promoting equity with respect to prevention and mitigation, we are providing the following:

  • Prioritize students who are likely to experience the greatest negative impacts from not being able to attend school in-person.
  • Ensure that students have access to instruction when out of class, as required by federal and state law.
  • Offer distance learning for students with a health condition and/or living with individuals at high risk.
  • Provide learning kits, laptops or iPads, and WiFi hotspots if necessary.
  • Provide masks to those in need.
  • Provide a communications platform for families to share information and resources.


Appendix A: Social Distancing Protocols

Appendix A will be posted at each of the entrances on Valencia Street as required by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.