A Well Deserved Break

Just want to thank everyone for all their efforts to date to keep school open and engaged. This includes parents and students, but also many thanks to all the faculty, staff, and administrators who oversee daily efforts and have worked tirelessly to get us to this point. And, also, thanks to all the PTO efforts continuing behind the scenes for decorating and otherwise coloring our school life with engaging experiences.

I’ll reiterate my message of caution for next week that was expressed in my Weekly message on Monday. We still should be cautious during the break. I know that many are traveling and I wish you safety in your journey. Please be thoughtful as numbers continue to climb all around us with few exceptions.

I was also approached by a few messages recently asking for us to open our doors to allow spectators during Warrior Day. I’ve checked with my team and we do not feel comfortable with this yet. I know that some will see this as being overly cautious and potentially inconsistent with other recent outdoor events, including the PTO BBQ. I understand your concern, but we are just not ready to open the gates broadly when we are in operation during normal hours (including after school activities/athletics). As I’ve explained, the PTO BBQ and other recent outdoor events in Warsaw are different because individual families are able to make a choice about participating or not. During normal school operations, this is not the case and I have to stick with our current mitigation level that would limit general open parent access. In our first opportunities for sporting competition earlier, we have not allowed spectators and testing of the teams prior to each match is part of our control requirements on both campuses. I do believe we will find ways to include spectator participation soon, but the crisis team and medical advisors are not yet ready to approve this until we see more clear evidence of a reduction of community spread and opportunity for vaccinating our elementary students. We continue to monitor and consider these options regularly. If you have further feedback, please feel free to join the survey that is always open and happy to continue the conversation:

https://forms.gle/vvQuMJ9vAbFbYWXM9

Aspiring Board Member Training

Each year, I offer training sessions for aspiring board members. This can include our Board of Trustees, who are always recruiting new members, as well as service on other non-profit boards for charitable organizations. There is general information about serving on the board and specific information about how ASW governance works.

If you would like to participate, you can sign up by clicking here for the next session on November 4 @ 6:00 p.m.: 

https://forms.gle/h9VnAN1f32wSRTvo6

The BoT is always seeking potential candidates as new Trustees (U.S. citizens and Non-U.S. citizens) who could serve to fill open positions through appointment or run for elections in the spring. This process, overseen by the Board of Trustees Governance Committee is ongoing throughout the year. The link to that form is here:

https://forms.gle/2XwED5usBYeL94BB7

Flu Vaccination for Children – Nasal Variety

We have flu vaccine for children (2-18) now in stock and are ready for use on November 6 (Saturday) from 9a to 1p with the help of our partner Epixpert. Those who filled out the survey received invitation to register yesterday and we can now open registration to others who are interested, but did not participate in the survey. Details about the vaccine are on the form which you can find here:

https://forms.gle/fKvjSaCmzGuywhqN8

On the Horizon

COVID Strategy in the Coming Weeks

As you will find in eNotes below, we begin the process of sign-up for both conferences and for your re-entry testing by our drop-in format following the October break. November 2-3 are dedicated to virtual conferences for students and you’ll sign up for appointments for your meetings with teachers. Starting last year, we coordinated this activity following the October break in order to also provide an opportunity for families to come to school for re-entry testing given the potential risks to the school community of a long vacation. It should be noted that we will make decisions about the remainder of the first week back based on the results of re-entry testing and we also intend to follow a higher frequency of testing for an additional week after we are back as a precautionary measure.

I should hasten to add that we are thoughtful about our recent cases and the increasing numbers being reported daily in Poland (2640 today). Since a few of our cases have also been vaccinated individuals, it confirms our approach to treat vaccinated and unvaccinated the same for the time being. We also recognize that other illnesses with similar symptoms are in the air, including the flu, some strep throat, and seasonal colds. We are not ready to increase from our medium level protocol and are currently recommending the following:

  • Be careful about “outside of school” activities. If you are involved in outside activities, we recommend maintaining a mask wearing protocol – even in the case of tutors or private lessons and irrespective of vaccination status of the individuals involved.
  • Be thoughtful about travel and mixing with crowds of any size. Again, following hand washing and masking guidelines can help prevent infection and should be followed even if others are not following this guidance around you.
  • Be thoughtful about mass transit – we are back to being concernd about buses and any enclosed mixing with general population, as we have suggested previously. While we know it is necessary in some cases, please wear a mask and try to distance from others.
  • We can’t advise directly on travel. As we noted earlier in the year, we are leaving this determination to government authorities for control of destination and any quarantine imposed when returning to Poland. We can only share that this is still a risk, even with the protocols and requirements now in place. We worry most about younger children who do not yet have a vaccination option. So, please be careful.

We know that, generally speaking, young children have been generally spared the more severe symptoms associated with this illness generally. However, there is a small statistical probability that some children will become more sick than others and we should continue to be cautious because of that small chance that someone might be more seriously impacted. Our layers of protective mitigation provide a high degree of safety, but nothing is 100%. Therefore, I only suggest caution and that you follow habits that we have forged together.

It is not yet time to relax, so please make sure your kids have comfortable masks to wear each day, plus a backup. Make hand washing a family habit and stick to it – frequently. Watch the distancing and avoid crowds. Travel thoughtfully and follow all protective measures required – and more!

Parent Testing & Test to Stay

During our most recent town hall, we put forward the proposal for implementing two new programs. The first is the long promised parent testing which we announced on Monday via the Weekly update. It involves a link to the Epixpert portal for the purchase of vouchers which can be used towards weekly testing and use of the OK4School application for daily attestation. Further to that communication, we also have stipulations associated with the program. We will limit parent access to the Ground floor of the school for the foreseeable future and parent access to the school will always be through the main entrance. We offer this program primarily for those additional volunteers who want to participate with PTO. This program is available for purchase now and you just need to contact security along with your “green” status on OK4School to enter the building. Mask wearing is required in the building at all times.

The second program, “Test to Stay,” has developed at schools in the U.S. and England and we believe it can be implemented here. One study regarding the program is provided as a backdrop to the program:

This only provides an option for “close contact” individuals allowing them to choose to be tested daily for 7 days and remain in school rather than at home on isolation and exclusion. It has a cost associated with it as follows:

We intend to start this program as an option after the October break. As we discussed in the Town Hall, I’m happy to receive any further comment on this before full implementation.

Vaccination

First, for flu vaccine, there is some difficulty in confirming shipments and availability, but as I was writing this tonight, I got confirmation of pending delivery of the childhood nasal vaccine for 2-18 year olds. We will NOT be ready for our original date of Saturday, October 16. We are now looking at a possible date next week in hopes of offering this before the break. We are at the mercy of high demand and frustrated deliveries, so please be patient with us.

For COVID vaccine, we are looking at dates after the break and will come back with dates and registration for those dates next week. If you are looking for a booster, it may be better to seek support from doctors and clinics right now because each person needs to be qualified in the Polish national system to receive a booster based on the current eligibility standards. Our focus will be on future events for students and we are still hopeful of the vaccine being available for our younger students in the coming weeks.

By the way… Our current vaccination rate (one or more doses) for Upper School students is 80%!

Fallen Warrior

Dr. Donna Swagers

Dr. Donna Lynn Swagers (1945-2021), elementary principal at ASW from 2002-2008, passed away on September 30, 2021. After growing up in Seattle, WA, USA, she found her true calling as an educator, spending 30+ years in education as a teacher, principal, director, and mentor to many students, teachers, and families. Being an educator took Donna to many different regions in Washington and ultimately to Warsaw. Donna regarded her time as an educator in Poland as the adventure of a lifetime.

Over the years Donna enjoyed sailing, boating, riding motorcycles, and being a member of various organizations. She especially loved her Harley dog.

She was married to the love of her life Peter Swagers for 20+ years. Peter was security coordinator at ASW during Dr. Swagers tenure at ASW. In their retirement, they decided to reside on Camano Island and enjoyed traveling in their motorhome.

Donna was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her husband Peter, son Chad Hudson, and her two grandsons Austin and Ryan Hudson. Donna has been laid to rest and the family is going to have a memorial gathering this coming Saturday in Seattle.

Thoughts for the family can be forwarded to the Director’s Office for compilation into a memory book that will be sent to the family at a later date. You can send them to the school, forward via email to director@aswarsaw.org, or simply add a comment to this post on Zimplicity.

Vaccination Survey – by tomorrow please

Please remember to fill out the vaccination survey by tomorrow, Thursday, in order to get our numbers for planning. Registration will quickly follow, particularly for the Flu vaccination. We need a rough idea of numbers to determine if we can go ahead and order the vaccines.

Link to the survey is here and details are in the survey: https://forms.gle/UQWkpQQL4ktx98cWA

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