In ARTICLES A-Z, Education

school_busyfunWhat is the current status of schools in Santa Cruz County?

In-Person? Distance-Learning? Combination Choices?

You would have to be living under a rock to not know that throughout the world there are differing opinions and practices about the efficacy of lockdowns. The seismic shift created by covid19 in our educational environment has generated incredulity, frustration, creativity, ingenuity, teamwork, and unique solutions to this crisis. Parents, teachers, administrators and children are adapting to change and offering innovative approaches to learning, yet most yearn for the day their children’s schools are open safely.

What is the current status of schools in Santa Cruz County? Who is closed? Who is open and how? We asked schools for their status and if a response has not yet arrived, we checked their websites and/or facebook pages.

All Santa Cruz County public schools are doing distance learning per the State of California “red zone” guidelines. Santa Cruz County is rated red for at least 14 consecutive days as of Oct. 6: Schools in the red zone can open for in-person instruction, when they have been in this tier for at least 14 consecutive days. Source

Locally we found that private and parochial schools, working with county health officials to provide best practice, safe protocols, are able to offer a range of options to their clients.

Brite Horizons is a non public school serving students grades 1st-12th. Brite Horizons continues to provide educational and student support services at the individual and group level in various formats throughout the COVID crisis. We are able to provide instruction via distance learning, in person instruction and small group cohorts will begin soon. All enrolled students have continued to access services via our published distance education model throughout the pandemic and we continue to assess and intake additional students. Executive  Director Ginger R. Raabe

Chartwell School, 1-12, Laughter and joy and learning together brought our campus back to life in September as we welcomed our first two lower school cohorts for live learning. Safety protocols were in place – and every student wore a brightly colored t-shirt helping them stay with their designated groups. We’ve got this, Bulldogs. We are so happy to have you back.

Gateway School, K-8, Owing to Gateway School’s small class sizes and large campus, they were able to launch a phased roll out of On-Campus instruction in early September. Starting with Kindergarten and First Grade, Gateway welcomed students to our campus for full-time instruction, five days a week. Currently grades K-3 are learning in our indoor and outdoor classroom settings. We are planning to have our 4th and 5th grade students on campus by the end of October, and our Middle School students by mid-November with the same full-time daily schedule. Gateway offers families the choice of an Opt In Distance Learning program alongside its On-Campus program. To help with student’s transition back on-campus Gateway is offering its Ultimate Recess program as an optional after school activity for the two weeks prior to the grade’s on campus instruction. Hosting School Day Tours by appointment on November 3 and 4. Visit or email for more information.

Good Shepherd Catholic School, PreK-9. On September 8 we began our weekly phased approach in welcoming Kinder cohorts on campus,  the following week first grade cohorts, then second and third grades, next 5th grade, and now all middle school. The collective effort by parents, students and staff has made our morning drop off and pick up procedures a success, keeping everyone safe!

Green Valley Christian School, PreK-8, Excited to be back would be an understatement! Returns were staggered and now all grades are in school. Our Kindergarten room has always been magical, but this is next level! Mrs. Johnston made each student a car, complete with a clear windshield for extra COVID protection! They got to choose their cars, and now they are all police officers, firefighters, taxi drivers, or truck drivers. It is absolutely adorable, magical AND super safe!

Holy Cross School, Preschool-8, is providing in-person instruction and remote learning instruction, though most students have returned to school. For in-person instruction, we are closely following all guidance from the CDC and the Santa Cruz County Department of Public Health. Schedules have been staggered to mitigate risk, and masks are worn by students and faculty, with many mask breaks throughout the day. Principal Patty Patano

Kirby School, 6-12, has been running a very high quality distance learning program since August and is opening for 6th grade this week. We would look at bringing 7th graders back in November. We have made considerable adjustments and teacher training over the summer to develop an engaging online learning program — the feedback has been great. Communications Director Paige Berardo

Monte Vista Christian School is currently open for hybrid learning. On Monday/Wednesday/every other Friday, students from the eastern portion of our region (approximately 50% of our student body) choose to learn either remotely (from home) or in-person (on campus); those in the western portion join them remotely. On Tuesday/Thursday/every other Friday, students from the western portion choose between remote and in-person learning, while their eastern peers join remotely. We are pleased to offer this level of customization to our students and parents, knowing that each home’s situation is different and changes daily. MVC’s approach to hybrid learning gives our parents and students complete control over their learning environment, ensuring the best fit for their family’s unique needs. Assistant Head of School Nikki Daniels

Moreland Notre Dame Catholic School, K-8.  We are so happy all our students are back on campus! They began returning grade by grade in mid-September.

Mount Madonna School, preK-12, offers in-person, on-campus and remote learning options to meet the needs of students and their families.  Mount Madonna’s COVID-19 information. Now, more than ever, it’s time to consider the transformative power of education to inspire and train future leaders who are community and environmentally minded. For more than 40 years, Mount Madonna School has bridged tradition and innovation in educating students, preschool through grade 12. Enrolling now for the current school year.  Hosting a virtual Open House on October 17, 11:00am-12noon via Zoom. RSVP to for the Zoom link. Leigh Ann Clifton

Orchard School, K-6. The adventure began September 18; learning came to life through our numerous outdoor classrooms, amazing teachers, engaging students, and our extraordinary campus!

Salesian Elementary and Junior High School, K-8. The students are back! What a joy to see Salesian’s campus alive again with love and laughter! As one of the many new safety protocols students and faculty are wearing masks on campus.

Santa Cruz Children’s School, K-6, is open for both in-person and online education. Our distance learning program is robust, featuring not only individually designed curriculum for all students in the core subjects, but a maintained and well-attended enrichment program featuring classes in PE, Social and Emotional Growth, Spanish, History, Art, STEAM, Local Studies, Dance, Social Justice, Cooking, and Instrumental Music for all students every week, as well as a few more classes for our older students. As always, these classes are taught by local experts and educators. The students who are attending in person have the exact same lineup, but the older kids’ core classes are taught in a hybrid setup. Director Deric McClean

Santa Cruz Montessori, Preschool-8, is currently providing in-person learning in our Young Children’s Community (18 mos. – three years old) and Primary (three – six-year-olds).  Our Elementary and Jr. High families may choose for their children to be enrolled for in-person learning, distance learning or independent studies.  We are operating on a pod system with small class sizes under an Operations Plan to implement all recommended covid safety protocols. Admissions Director Kathy Rideout

Santa Cruz Waldorf School, preschool-8. As we complete our third week of our comprehensive distance learning program we are ready to begin the process of returning to campus. We plan to reopen our school for in-person learning and a phased return will take place over the next few weeks beginning Oct 26th. The Preschool will have a later start date. Due to our small class sizes and large campus we are to maintain social distancing whilst inside and conducting the majority of classes outside. For students that for various reasons will not be returning to campus, we will continue to provide a solid Waldorf distance education in parallel with in-person learning. 

Springhill School, Preschool-6. Coming soon.

St. Francis High School, 9-12, is open for live, in-person and distance learning. We are live 4 days a week with Wednesday being both a virtual academic department office hours day or a student support services day. For example, this Wednesday grades 9, 11, & 12 will have academic department meetings virtually while the 10th grade will be here live for a retreat, ASB lunch, school photos/ID. Our reopening plan is on the website or parents can call or email the school and we’ll get back to them.

Tara Redwood School, Preschool-6, opened its doors this September. We have created a safe space that complies with County Dept of Public Health safety regulations for students at all class levels up to first grade. Half of the classroom spaces are held outdoors under a gorgeous Redwood  tree canopy. The other half of the time class instruction is held indoors. Our online program, when needed, excels in balancing indoor and outdoor studies as students are guided to continue to practice daily mindfulness activities like yoga, meditation, creative arts, music and life labs with global studies and academics.

Twin Lakes Christian School, K-8, is currently OPEN for on-site learning in stable cohorts with Modified Distance Learning options available

Photo Credit: Green Valley Christian School – Kindergarten Class

VHM Christian School, K-8 We are open for in-person instruction in grades K-8. We are maintaining small cohorts, masking, and social distancing within each classroom. We currently have openings in grades K, 3 & 4.  Enrollment and COVID-19 information can be found on our website: Deborah Joplin, Principal
Photo Credit: Green Valley Christian School – Kindergarten Class
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