We Are a Community

PacBay experiences, inside and outside the classroom, have already helped our daughter reimagine education, and are inspiring her to think of the world as her spiritual and educational community.

A PacBay Parent

Response to COVID-19

July 29, 2020

Dear PacBay families,

As of a few hours ago, San Mateo County became the last Bay Area county to be placed on the State’s COVID watch list. This means that under the Governor’s order, we will be unable to have any on-campus gathering or classes until the County is off the watch list for 14 days. We are now officially operating under the Code Red Schedule and the revised schedule for the Orientation Week (August 11-14) can be found in the following links: HS; MS; 4th & 5th Grades.

We remain committed to attending to our student’s holistic development academically, socially, spiritually, and physically. With our learnings from the Spring and our planning during the summer, we are ready to deliver quality and excellent distance learning. Meanwhile, we will continue to be ready for a phased-in and adaptive approach to bring students back on campus when public health conditions improve.

The constant changes in health and safety circumstances will continue to push and challenge our sense of normalcy to its limit. However, as a Christ-centered community, we look to what Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning” (Luke 12:35). We will continue to be ready, adaptable, and responsive to any health, safety, and educational challenges this year. Let us courageously face these challenges - not with fear of scarcity and limitation - but with faith in God’s abundance and opportunity. Together, we will exercise our Christ-centered love for one another and develop collective resilience with our teachers, students, and families.

On a practical note, I encourage you to check the Resource Page on myPacBay regularly for updated information. On that page, you will need to fill out some forms that you will find in the yellow band on the top of your screen.

We look forward to a rich and fulfilling year with our PacBay community!

 

Warmly,

Dr. Michael Chen
Head of School

Together with:
Rev. James F. Sweeney
Dean of Students & Assistant Head of School for Administration
Mrs. Anna Valladares
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Enrollment
Ms. Natalie Talbot Ayres
Dean of Middle School & Athletics
Dr. David Gross
Provost & Dean of Elementary Education

 

July 1, 2020

Dear PacBay families,

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our vision of a Christ-centered community is deeply challenged and tested. Our hearts must draw closer to one another though we must stay at a safe distance for the sake of others. Our loving patience for others must increase when our personal felt-needs seem more urgent than ever. Our spirits must grow increasingly hopeful when it is so easy to get frustrated or cynical during such unprecedented circumstances, uncertainty, and upheaval to our typical way of life.

The words from Philippians 2:3 ring particularly relevant to us today as it says, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.

We must love more deeply and hope more fully.

Thank you all for the strong response rate (75%) to our recent family survey. Reflecting back on our school’s emergency response to COVID-19, we are grateful to receive your positive support of ePacBay. We learned that:

  • 76% are satisfied and extremely satisfied with the overall experience;
  • 74% are satisfied and extremely satisfied with ePacBay’s academic learning;
  • 82% are satisfied and extremely satisfied with ePacBay’s ability to bring normalcy and stability to our students.

Looking onward, we also learned that:

  • 60% of our parents are comfortable and extremely comfortable of sending students back on campus, in person if we were given the permission to reopen in the fall, while
  • 20% of our parents are extremely uncomfortable sending students back in person even if we follow the strictest COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Given what we learned from our spring semester response to COVID-19 and your feedback, we are busy working on several contingency plans for the upcoming school year. We are looking closely at how we would teach and facilitate community life well through a range of options. We are also actively preparing our physical campus and refining our policies and protocols. As promised, we will continue to keep you in the loop as we learn more about what we are allowed to do and what we are able to do in the fall.

Regardless of how we start the school year, we look forward to a year of deep learning in the context of authentic relationships between our students and teachers. Our teachers are the living curriculum through which our students gain glimpses of lives well lived. I am excited to introduce you to the following educators who will be great additions to our highly effective faculty. They are:

  • Ms. Mekdes Ekey, B.A., for Middle School Math, English, Christian Studies, and P.E.
  • Ms. Elena Liege, M.A,. for Middle School Humanities, Math, and Fine Arts.
  • Ms. Melanie Spehr, M.Ed., for High School Design Studies and Fine Arts.
  • Dr. James Telander, Psy.D., as Director of Social Emotional Learning and Counseling.
  • Dr. Cynthia Telander, Ph.D., as Counseling and High School Humanities.
  • Mr. Jay Ghosh, M.S., MBA, for High School Math, Engineering, and Science.
  • Dr. Paul Tang, Ph.D., as High School Math, Engineering, and Science.

[A full professional bio for each of these new teachers is in the attachment.]

They are joined by 24 returning highly qualified faculty colleagues, of which 58% hold graduate degrees and 26% hold doctoral degrees. With these loving and caring teachers, and together with our robust curriculum, we look forward to a year where our students are deeply known and loved. And we will challenge our students to discover their lifelong purpose to live a flourishing life, no matter what challenges they may encounter along the way.

Lastly, I want to recognize just how difficult it is for parents to support their children during this COVID summer. This is especially true for parents of younger children. So, in order to support you and your children at home, we have invested in some online resources for you to use. In a few days, please look for another email from our Educational Innovation Director, Mr. Vincent Chan, that will have a detailed list of resources and instructions on how to access them.

Blessings this summer, and until next time!

Warmly,

Dr. Michael Chen
Head of School

 

 

June 20, 2020

Dear PacBay families,

J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “True education is a kind of never ending story - a matter of continual beginnings, of habitual fresh starts, of persistent newness.” This is very much in line with PacBay’s goal of educating our students. With the fast changing world we live in and the many intractable challenges we see, we must prepare our students to be resilient, adaptable, and grounded. The COVID-19 pandemic reveals the importance of these qualities, as everything we have known as “normal” has been upended. We are proud of our students and teachers for being resilient, adaptable, and grounded. We still have much to learn, and we will continue to grow with God’s wisdom and grace.

As we continue to face the uncertainties of COVID-19, we are busy preparing for the various Fall schooling scenarios. In my email last week, I outlined for you our planning approach. We are making progress and considering your feedback. Stay tuned!

In case you have not filled out the planning survey last week, I ask you to fill it out at your earliest convenience. The link is shared with you again here and we will close the survey by next Wednesday, June 24th at noon.

Lastly, we had put together a detailed calendar in the spring for this academic year; however, due to COVID-19, we are rethinking how to implement some specific activities and events. In the meantime, to help you plan for the year, we want to share the calendar information that we do know:

Key calendar information:

Semester 1
8/11 First Day of School
9/7 Labor Day (No School)
9/8 Faculty Day (No School)
10/16 Teacher In-Service (No School)
11/11 Veterans Day (No School)
11/20 Teacher In-Service (No School)
11/23-27 Thanksgiving Break
12/21-1/1 Christmas Break
1/4 Teacher In-Service (No School)
  Semester 2
1/5 School Resumes
1/18 MLK Day (No School)
2/12 Teacher In-Service (No School)
2/15 Presidents’ Day (No School)
2/16-2/19 Winter Break
3/15 Teacher In-Service (No School)
4/2 Good Friday (No School)
4/5-4/9 Spring Break
4/12 Faculty Day (No School)
5/27 Last Day of School

 

May God's blessings be with you and please stay safe and healthy!

Warmly,

Dr. Michael Chen
Head of School
 

 

June 10, 2020

Dear PacBay families,

I hope that this email finds you well, healthy, and hopeful amidst the continual challenges that come with the global pandemic. I am proud of our students’ display of resilience during the 11 weeks of shelter-in-place and distance learning; I am grateful for the dedicated teachers for their professionalism and ability to offer quality instruction and mentoring support to our students. I am thankful for our families and parents’ overwhelming support, words of encouragement, and unwavering confidence in our care for our students.

To keep you well informed, I want to provide you with a quick update on our planning process for school re-opening. We are also committed to provide you updates throughout the summer to be responsive to the rapidly-changing COVID-19 data and guidance.

At the moment, I am working with the senior administrators and school board members to prepare for a variety of scenarios in the Fall and prepare our school to deploy them effectively. In addition, I meet with about 20 CA-based heads of school weekly to stay informed about what other schools are planning. Moreover, I meet with several public health experts regularly for consultation, in addition to keeping up-to-date with the CDC, WHO, and San Mateo County Health Department guidelines. We are making every effort to stay at the forefront of medical and public health recommendations to protect the health and safety of our PacBay community.

In our planning process, we are asking ourselves the following questions:

  1. To what extent can the health and safety of students, families, and teachers be safeguarded while opening the school?
  2. To what extent can we reasonably facilitate school life events and provide a sense of normalcy for our students, while protecting the health, wellbeing, and safety of our learning community?
  3. To what extent can we promote educational equity through our chosen approach?

In addition, we are developing specific plans for each of the following areas:

  1. Health and Behavior Norms (e.g., hygiene practices and face coverings, no sharing supplies, temperature checks, health protocols).
  2. Scheduling & Physical Distancing (e.g., restrictions on large gatherings, hybrid virtual and in-person schedule for learning, and community life).
  3. Physical Infrastructure (e.g., ventilation, hand-sanitizing stations, no touch bathroom fittings and trash cans, cleaning protocols).
  4. Transportation, Food Service, Extracurricular, & Athletics (e.g., lunch service procedures, food packaging, outdoor education, physical activity and wellness).

In addition, we want to consult with parents/guardians, students, and our teachers to assess how you are coping with the pandemic, your comfort level with the various school reopening scenarios in the fall, and what we can learn from our inaugural months of e-PacBay. For the first round of feedback, please fill out this survey.

At the moment, we will begin our 2020-2021 school year on August 11, as previously planned. The County Health Department’s order and guidelines as well as the best health and educational practices in our region at the time will influence how we will begin this school year.

We hope this information is helpful for your planning. No doubt you will have more questions and we will be in touch with additional information as it becomes available. Thank you for the incredible flexibility, resilience, and care for others that our entire PacBay community has shown. I look forward to seeing you again as soon as possible.

I miss you all!

Dr. Michael Chen
Head of School
 

 

May 10, 2020

Dear PacBay families,

The unrelenting COVID-19 storm seemingly buffets us without end, forcing us to adjust our lives constantly to stay above the waves. During this time, our patience is stretched and our desire to be selfless is tested. As we are confined to our own homes, we can be challenged to see ourselves as a community. Yet, during this time, I constantly ask myself: “What does love require - especially in times like these?” This question inspires everything we do here at PacBay.

As we conclude 8 weeks away from our physical school, I am proud of our students and teachers for what they have accomplished in our virtual school. Together, we are demonstrating love to ourselves, one another, and our community. This is how I’ve seen love manifest at ePacBay:

  • Love encourages hard work and motivates us to find relevance in our learning. As our seniors defended their senior theses before faculty judges in late March, one student recounted: “I am proud of my hard work and will always remember accomplishing something important in front of the teachers who have seen me grow for all four years.” Speaking about the Christ-centered perspective on gender inequality, she said, “We must not ignore the injustice happening around us, but "raise awareness that would motivate loving actions to solve big problems.”
  • Love finds its unique expression in our faithful devotion. Our student worship team, led by Mr. Quan, continues to produce high quality and inspiring worship music every week for our eChapel. Using creativity, technology, and virtual collaboration, they have created beautiful music that can be lasting soundtracks of worship in our own homes.
  • Love compels us to serve one another. I can’t help but give a shout-out to our amazing and dedicated faculty, who love and serve all of our students with devotion, thoughtfulness, and caring selflessness. Here are samplings of what I see:
    • Our elementary school teachers continue to work hard to produce thoughtful learning plans for parents and students to follow, embracing Zoom classes, providing one-on-one support, and connecting and building community through other creative means.
    • Our middle school and high school teachers continue to impress me with their high quality instruction, while being attentive to students’ social and emotional needs and other challenges. From our fun Flex Learning Friday workshops such as baking, prayer, and creative writing, to the “congratulations” lawn signs hand delivered to graduating seniors by administrative staff (from 6 feet away, of course), our team continues to find ways to help students enjoy school to its fullest and experience the warmth of PacBay’s family.
  • Perfect love drives out fear and love gives us the courage to plan for a robust community boldly (1 John 4:18). Though we live in a time of great uncertainty, we are not holding back our commitment for educational excellence and innovation. We recently rolled out an expanded high school curriculum (89 courses, 17 AP courses, 63 electives), and a new Major of Study program in Engineering, Design Studies, Social Entrepreneurship, and Philosophy. Moreover, we launched ePacBay Summer, for students to learn, engage, and connect with peers, teachers, and academic subjects during summer.

Above all, love will enable us to finish this year well, and together as a community. Whether in person or virtually, we are committed to all of our students and families, especially in times like these. Please see the attached calendar outlining some key elements for the next three weeks. While we will postpone the High School Graduation and 8th Grade Promotion to July, we plan to celebrate all our students as we conclude this year.

Warmly,

Dr. Michael Chen
Head of School

 
Class of 2020 Congrats Collage

 

April 19, 2020

Dear PacBay families,

First, we really miss all of our students on our campus! At the same time, I am so proud of our teachers and students for making the best of the situation by engaging in quality distance learning.

Second, I am here to announce that ePacBay, our remote learning, will continue through the rest of this academic year. This is to comply with the San Mateo County Health Department’s most recent order to extend the campus closure through the end of academic year. Again, while we are sad that we will not finish this school year on campus and with each other in person, we want to do so with the spirit of love for our neighbors during this season of crisis.

Here, I want to assure everyone that our school board is in full partnership with PacBay’sadministration and me to make the best possible decisions regarding the life and future of the school. To highlight a few subsequent decisions with the extended remote learning, we will do the following:

For the high school:

  1. Postpone PacBay Graduation to mid-July, in hopes that we can safely gather in person by then for the occasion.
  2. Organize a virtual high school academic awards assembly at the end of May.
  3. Maintain letter grading but eliminate final exams in the high school; teachers will utilize alternate ways to determine the overall semester grades (Please see the grading policy in the attachment).
For the middle school:
  1. Postpone 8th grade promotion to mid-July, in hopes that we can safely gather in person by then for the occasion.
  2. Maintain letter grading but eliminate 8th grade final exams (Please see the grading policy in the attachment).
For the elementary school:
  1. Develop a special plan to celebrate our kindergarteners’ promotion to the 1st grade.
  2. Develop a special plan to celebrate our 5th graders’ promotion to middle school.
For all levels next year:

Plan to resume all programs for the 2020-21 academic year starting in August (on campus if shelter-in-place order is lifted; virtually if the order continues).

 

While nothing is normal during this season, I appreciate the many wonderful encouragements that parents and students provide for our teachers. Your partnership and support are key to giving all of us here the much-needed strength to care for and love our students during this unsettling time. I especially appreciate this notable response from a parent, “PacBay is like an anchor for the kids, keeping them together even though they are physically separated.” For our students and with God’s grace, we will continue to be an anchor for our students.

Please know that we are praying for the health, safety, and flourishing of your family amidst uncertainty.  Please let us know how we can be helpful to you.

Stay safe and healthy,

Dr. Michael Chen
Head of School

 


Mr. Alan T. Aimi
President, PacBay School Board

 

 

March 29, 2020

Dear PacBay families,

Previously on March 12, 2020, we decided to close the campus and transition from onsite to distance-learning indefinitely due to the public health threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, we hoped that we would return to campus no later than April 14. Since then, we have actively monitored the situation and recommendations of the County’s health department and surrounding school districts to inform our decisions regarding our return date.

At the moment, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Bay Area as well as nationally remains ongoing. We will join the coordinated decision made by seven Bay Area county health officers and six county superintendents to extend the campus closure timetable to no earlier than May 1, 2020. We plan to continue our excellent distance-learning in real-time with our students and we intend to further develop a robust virtual campus life for our students. We expect that our students and their families, as well as our faculty and staff will remain sheltered-in-place; this is our commitment to be part of the larger community and worldwide effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Please know that we are praying for the health, safety, and flourishing of your family amidst uncertainty. Please let us know how we can be helpful to you.

Stay safe and healthy,

Dr. Michael Chen
Head of School

 


 

March 12, 2020

Dear PacBay families,

Thank you so much for the overwhelming family participation at last night’s inaugural webcast regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact upon our School community. During that webcast, I promised that we would keep you updated as the situation changes, particularly given that it is evolving quickly both here and across the globe.

To date, there have been no cases of, or direct exposure to, COVID-19 reported with regard to PacBay students or staff. However, we also recognize that the situation in the Bay Area is serious and changing quickly. Like other schools in our area, we too want to make certain that, on our campuses, we have taken every reasonable effort to mitigate the chances of exposure and transmission of the COVID-19 virus in the days and weeks ahead. Consequently, having consulted both San Mateo County health authorities and our School’s Board of Directors, our Administrative Leadership Team has decided that effective tomorrow, Friday, March 13, 2020, the Linda Mar and Seville Campuses will be closed indefinitely. (Elementary School extended care will be available all day Friday). During the period that the campuses are closed, the school will transition to instruction by distance learning, generally resuming our normal schedule using web-based systems. We hope to return to campus no later than April 14, 2020, depending, of course, on how the situation continues to develop.

We will host a Q & A webcast tomorrow at 12:00 noon to discuss our transition plan to distance learning and to respond to your questions as to the mechanics of how it will work. For those unable to participate in the live webcast, it will be recorded and made available to all school families. Additional questions may, of course, be submitted by email. The information for the live webcast is printed at the bottom of this email.

As we have said repeatedly, PacBay is fully committed to the health and safety of our school community. We will continue to act to safeguard our students and staff during these difficult times.

Warmly,

Dr. Michael Chen
Head of School