Testing, Conferences, and October Break
First, we have been working over the last couple of days with our planning relative to the upcoming long weekend, the October break, and our original plan for conferences for both Elementary and Upper School. I’m going to try, in the next few paragraphs, to capture the details of our planning that finally came together this morning with collaboration and final decision this afternoon.
We have three issues that we are trying to address:
- Generally, maintain our COVID testing schedule to minimize expirations and keep re-testing within a grace period of no more than 3 days after the expiration date.
- Minimize time out of school and coordinate days for families.
- Provide for transition back to school after a longer vacation.
So, our most immediate concern is the upcoming 4-day weekend that includes a professional day for staff on Thursday and a three-day weekend for all of us to take a well-deserved break. For this and future 4-day weekends (or, with slight differences, 3-day weekends), we will do the following relative to COVID testing:
- Students normally scheduled on Thursday will be tested the day before on Wednesday.
- Students normally scheduled on Friday, will be tested on Monday.
This means that the Thursday students will expire one day before their regular day the following week. Friday students will be expired for two days before their Monday testing. We can’t adjust the app for the expirations, so we will inform you of this consequence and you can send your child to school even though the app might show that you are not OK4School due to an expired test. This will be the same plan for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend in November and our general strategy for three-day weekends when they occur.
For conferences, we want to combine tackling this along with our plan for returning to school after the October break. With this message, we are changing both our ES and US parent conferences to the same dates right after the October Break:
CONFERENCES for ALL GRADES are now November 2 & 3!
These are the two days right after the October Break. This is different from prior communication from both principals and they are correcting their messaging now to communicate this change to all families and staff.
We had long considered that we would need to have re-entry testing for students after long breaks and many parent comments in our surveys pointed this out. It took us a bit to put all the pieces together and this is our plan.
First, all conferences are virtual and had already scheduled for students to stay home while teachers connect with parents via virtual connection appointments, similar to our Spring meetings with parents. Second, while we have typically scheduled upper school and elementary conferences at different times, there is nothing that precludes us from doing them together and we believe this is better for families with students in multiple divisions.
Next, during November 2 & 3, we will arrange for the transition back to school by setting up for drive-through testing for all students, family-style during these two days. With extra support, additional stations, and extended times, we think we can accomplish the large task of testing the whole school during this time period. So, for two days, each family will plan to do the following:
- schedule and participate in online conferences for all Upper School children in the family
- schedule and participate in online conferences for all Elementary School children in the family
- schedule one family appointment for drive-through testing at school
To be clear, our advice for October Break is that we do not believe travel is warranted at this time. But, if you or a family member travels during the October break, you must be aware of the following:
- If you travel, you must return 72 hours prior to your family appointment for drive-through testing. If you are scheduled to test on Monday, you must return by Thursday.
- If you travel and you visit high-risk countries, you must wait 7 days before testing and return to school
I know that some will bristle at the suggestion, but there is still no clear evidence that travel is safe at this time. Numbers are still climbing and most areas are seeing significant increases in the number of cases. I’m hopeful that most of our families will remain in or near Warsaw for the upcoming vacation, as I have suggested previously. To that end, if you do not travel during the break, we will have additional drive-through testing appointments scheduled for Friday, October 30, during the break to relieve some of the stress the following week. We will have all the times and details out shortly along with directions on scheduling both testing and conferences.
We will have our first official fire drill on Friday this week at 10:30a. This is our only announced fire drill of the year. Last week’s bad sensor didn’t count and not everyone was here, so this is the annual test of our procedures. Students at various levels have already been practicing, so we feel we are ready for this. If you are in the parking lot on campus or attempting to enter, please be prepared to wait until the drill is complete before you will be allowed to move. We will also send a test message from our Emergency SMS system on the day.
U. S. Election (for U.S. Citizens only)
If you are a US citizen and still have not sent your absentee ballot, we are pleased to inform you that, like four years ago, ASW, in consultation with the Consular Section of the US Embassy, is offering an opportunity for US-citizen members of our community to turn in their absentee ballots at ASW. Given the unusual circumstances, this year the Consular staff will not be able to assist you in person with registration or casting a ballot. Therefore, to assist you in voting, ASW will put out a ballot box at the main entrance area where you can drop off your ballot during school working hours (8:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.). Outside of school hours, you may still hand your envelopes to the security guards at either gate who will then bring them to the school and add them to the ballot box. Please make sure that you have properly sealed your ballots and placed them in a correctly addressed envelope with proper postage attached. You can print a postage-paid label HERE!
The deadline for turning in your ballots at ASW is September 30th, 4:30 p.m. The ballots will then be collected by the Consular staff and dispatched via diplomatic pouch.
Please find here the Embassy’s most recent message addressed to U.S. citizens about voting and their website at https://www.fvap.gov/. Should anyone still have questions, you are welcome to e-mail the Consular Section of the US Embassy at ACSWarsaw@state.gov or call +48 22 504 2784.