Here’s How We Start

Dear Parents,

ASW is about to embark on a course of action gleaned over many months of interaction and discussion with leading experts and wise counsel of the broadest reach possible in and outside our community.  This journey will include significant changes in our routines and habits, and we all need to work together to succeed in this goal, as our core values prescribe.  For sections below, you will find a checklist at the end of procedures you must follow to get ready for your child’s first day.  The rest of the divisional details will come next week, so these steps are a priority for you and your family.

Our health and safety work is based on our core values. There are important rules for us all to know well and follow closely. But for us to ensure everyone’s health and safety, it will take much more than enforcing a series of rules. It will take collaboration and commitment at the highest level, supporting each other, and affirmatively taking all the actions necessary to keep ourselves and our whole community safe. 

Earlier this summer, we received the recommendations of our partner, Epixpert, led by Dr. Jarek Oleszczuk, to assess our readiness and provide clear recommendations for the opening of school.  We have since undertaken the work associated with 23 key recommendations.  Part of this led to contracting Epixpert for further work with us.  Dr. Oleszczuk’s involvement in government sanitary guidelines reassures us that our approach will be consistent with government guidelines, which was confirmed by announcements released yesterday.

We will be implementing a multi-layered approach to the opening of school that will leverage the best options possible. We want to ensure that we prioritize efforts to create the best learning environment possible in each classroom. If you get a chance to watch the videos and review the materials of recent weeks, they will provide deeper insight into the procedures described below.  Two key web locations should provide access to all of these materials:

If you joined us for our summer Town Hall sessions, you should know that our planning is formed around our new key model:

STOP

First, the school will be implementing a broad-based required preventative testing program.  Our contract provider, Epixpert, will institute procedures to assure testing before the start of school and weekly thereafter.  The process will include a simple nasal swab test that eventually will be parent administered at home.  It’s simple, efficient, and will provide us good results for monitoring the overall health of the community.  We intend for this to be non-invasive and easy in order to assure that we offer a key layer of protection for all in this environment.

The testing solutions will be determined by our provider, Epixpert, and they will adjust procedures over time as the local area is assessed for community spread and risk, and should any case be identified through our process.  No one will be exempt from this testing regime and all necessary precautions have been taken to assure confidentiality and protection of data under Epixpert guidelines as the provider.

To serve our purpose, we will be implementing the OK4School application to provide for communication of test results and also implementing daily assessment of risk.  Parents will enter information into the app each day in order for the student to attend school. At the entrance to the school, you’ll find our final boundary protection in the form of ID checking, linked to the results from OK4School.  Next, special overhead cameras will check temperatures as students walk across sanitization mats.  Students will wash their hands for the first time each day at these entrances as well, as the last step of entering school.  Any student that is flagged at the entry for any reason will be further evaluated by our health office staff and you will be contacted for any concern.

Your checklist for STOP:

  • OK4School – you will receive an email within the next week that will invite you to load the app or access the web portal to set up your account.
  • In PowerSchool, choose whether you will attend regular school or select hybrid learning from home by filling out the Consent Form. (See below for more details on hybrid learning)  Also, complete updates to contact information and health/data questions.
  • Login to PowerSchool, click on COVID Testing, and schedule your appointment for any available time beginning August 10th and according to the schedule provided. (You must have returned to Poland for at least 72 hours before testing can be performed.  For selected countries, there is a 7-day requirement).  After August 19, you can be tested at school at any time by calling the health office to schedule a time for that first test. Testing will be in a drive-up format at our main entrance.
  • Get your child’s RFID wristband from the school when they are available and have your child wear it every day. (Wrist bands will be available during the first days of school.)

Your Choice -> In-Class or Hybrid Learning

We want to capitalize on our valuable and highly successful experiences with Virtual School from March through June in order to maximize learning opportunities for all students, whether they are present in the classroom or at home. The data we collected from students and faculty throughout the spring tells us that face-to-face, in-person learning is the most desired teaching and learning option for all. That said, we know there will be times when some in our community will not be able to be present in school, so we need to establish viable options for them.

Ultimately, we have learned throughout this pandemic so far that we have to live with uncertainty, and we have to remain as flexible and agile in our approaches to teaching and learning. Thus, establishing a hybrid model is important.

With regard to students who are learning from home, we will develop methods and strategies for teachers and students to connect both synchronously and asynchronously.  What specifically that will look like — from Zooming live into the classroom to following along asynchronously with assignments posted on Google Classroom — will be revealed closer to the opening of school, given that we need to iron out the details of hybrid scenarios with all of our teachers. This planning will constitute the bulk of the work we do together in the coming days. As details of these models are developed, we will publish them to all.

In elementary, for our youngest learners, we fully appreciate that a critical factor in ongoing learning achievement is the relationship between home and school during any learning period away from the school campus. We are committed to a model of frequent communication with families as they support the delivery model from home. Additionally, we will prioritize the need for social/emotional development in the activities that we design for the children as well as exploring ways to maintain the important relationship between the child and their teacher that lets them know they belong and we care about them.

PROTECT

Our protection regime at school will necessarily have the most impact on the way we operate.  Based on the recommendations from EpiXpert, we have made significant changes in the building to support these initiatives.  Handwashing and hygiene will be a focus, with stations throughout the school, along with reducing surface touching where possible.  Water fountains are gone and replaced with no-touch bottle fillers.  Surfaces will be more rigorously cleaned.  Sprayers will use non-toxic misting to disinfect daily and sometimes between uses.

Under this protocol, parents will not be able to access the school with their children.  We will have plenty of support for meeting children each morning as they are dropped off and will work with parents to nurture even our youngest into school in the best way possible. Divisions will provide greater detail on this, but our staff will be visible and present for children in the area just outside each cohort entrance to greet and make sure children are delivered safely to their teachers or first-period class.  Similarly, you’ll be asked about your pickup preferences and we’ll be prepared for kids to ride buses or be picked up in front of school entrances each day.

Another area of significant change is in the Cafeteria.  We will not have an open ala carte environment this year.  Information separately in this message will give you details on the limited food service options and how to order online since we will not be using cash at school.  Students are encouraged to start the year with a packed lunch brought to school.  Elementary students will eat lunch in their classrooms this year.  Middle school and High school students will eat in the cafeteria but in a socially distanced format.

Students will wear masks at school, particularly during movement, and where feasible in their classrooms.  This requirement is based on medical advice and may be relaxed in the future after our testing program demonstrates safety of students.  Staff will be wearing masks, too.  The CDC recommendations are being followed for a cloth or better mask.  Parents will provide this for their students to wear at school, but the school will have backup masks in case they are needed.

Your checklist for PROTECT:

  • Login to PowerSchool and connect with our food service provider through the Cafeteria link on the left menu.  See the information below for more details on setting up your account if you haven’t done this already.
  • Prepare to send your child to school with two masks each day.  One to wear and one as extra in case needed.
  • Fill out the daily questions on the OK4School app and check your child’s status before sending them to school.
  • Children may only enter the school at their cohort entrance.

REACT

In the react section, we prepare ourselves to respond to an infection when it is identified.  This is triggered by a positive result on any of our testing, but may also be initiated by information reported through the OK4School app or that comes from government reporting of exposure.  We are prepared to provide for quick response and action on an identified infection or threat through exposure identification and mitigation and follow-up testing.  This might mean that groups of children are temporarily excluded from school until they can be retested and returned to school.  It may also involve closing a cohort or the whole school until retesting that allows us to reopen.  In a group, cohort, or whole school closure, we will initiate our Virtual School approach and communicate how learning will continue until the threat or exposure is mitigated.  Our goal will be to return to school as soon as possible when medical evidence suggests it is safe.  Our chart for mapping this response is here:

https://zimplicity.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/ASW-Testing-Protocol-1.pdf

We will communicate regularly with parents about any concerns and the whole community will be updated whenever there is a positive case identified and the mitigation that was initiated.

Your checklist for REACT:

  • Fill out the OK4School app each day
  • Be prepared to follow-up on school medical advice
  • Make sure that testing is completed as scheduled

CONCLUSION

We are not done tuning our approach and we will remain agile in our procedures so that we can respond effectively and efficiently when required.  The other questions regarding logistics and in school procedures will come more from divisional offices.

Please review this information and the information that follows.

Thank you for your patience and participation in making it possible for the school to begin despite the challenges.  Be reminded that there is no 100% solution that we can enact.  But, the actions we have taken help us to achieve an acceptable level of risk.

Looking forward to our first day together.

Regards,

Mr. Z

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