How brilliant!!

While there have been some glitches and we are testing the boundaries of bandwidth, there seems to be a positive vibe in the air over Virtual School and the great things that are happening. The picture at the right is Mrs. Z being “balanced” with her online 1st graders and it’s quite amazing how kids are embracing this and finding ways to be “balanced” at home while they are learning. I know some have reflected on the concerns over screen time and we are working with the kids to assess and adjust along the way. But, we started with the idea of balance and had advice to them at the outset of finding time to take breaks and keep the flow of their learning.

But, we had an advantage going into this with our core values and our IB framework – both have lent themselves brilliantly to supporting an online program that still values the child-ness of it all. We can be online, but online in a good way. We can increase some screen time, because it is good screen time and because parents are partnering with us to manage it effectively.

As the days go on, we are also shifting our teaching craft to this medium. More and more instructional creativity is emerging and we are adding layers of competency to our base stack of skills. As we spend more time here, we will continue to grow our practice, work out the pinch points, and increase the stability of delivery. Right now, we have some training wheels on with support all around. But, we are about to find that moment where we catch ourselves balanced and pretty soon we’ll be done with the training wheels and taking them off.

Like your kids, teachers are working very hard right now. They are exhausted each night, but enthusiastic because students and families are stepping up so wonderfully. Thank you for all you do to support and encourage each other along the way. We are in the long march now, Warriors all, until the battle is won!!! #lifesolation

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Now we shift!!!

I shared the news of our coming transition with a wonderful crowd of Middle schoolers in the auditorium earlier today and then with High School before departure. I noted that we are not really “closing” school, as that would be devastating and frustrating for all of us. “Losing” something we all hold so dear is not the message we want to convey. Instead, I suggested that we would “transition” to virtual school and that I needed their help to make it work (and to avoid adding days to the calendar in June).

We are ready!! Kids will get important transitional information over the next two days in our protected environment and we’ll make a smooth transition to our virtual environment starting on Monday.

POWERSCHOOL – this is the key and we need parents logging into PowerSchool now and as we approach Monday. Each division and teacher of the school will be dedicated to this approach and PowerSchool serves as our anchor to other connections and services. You already know this for things like invoices and nursing services. But, now it becomes even more important and the interface, including the landing page, will change shortly to bring you directly into Virtual School. We will support and defend educational continuity through these efforts, knowing that the parent partnership is key to success. Please look for the messages to you in helping your child make this transition and work with them to muster the materials and resources needed to continue their learning in this format. We’ll all get through this together!!

Remember that social distancing requires that you stay away from gatherings of any size and that you keep close to home during this two week period. If we are hopeful of success at stemming the tide of this virus, we must all be good citizens and remember the stipulations of grouping and gathering. We’ll keep the lights on at school and will have staff at school each day. You will not be able to access the campus during this closure, but we’ll do our best to cover phones and address your concerns.

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Notice this morning…

Dear Members of the ASW Community (students 6-12, parents, staff),

As you are all aware, a directive from the Polish government was declared this morning in a press conference stating that schools in Poland should close as of Monday, March 16.  The declaration noted a transitional period for Thursday and Friday where schools could remain open in order to support parents in arranging care.  For the public schools, this means coverage of students, but not providing lessons.  Our quick survey of private schools found that some intend to stay in session and follow the government directive for full closure starting on Monday.  As a result of this announcement, the Crisis Team met immediately to discuss our options under the government announced plan.

The Crisis Team has made their recommendation to the Board of Trustees and they have confirmed our opinion that school should remain open for Thursday and Friday to finalize plans for virtual schooling and that virtual schooling will commence, as planned in virtual format starting on Monday, March 16, and will continue in that format for the specified two weeks of time until school re-opens on March 30.  Since we had already planned to move into virtual schooling for a single day, our plan just shifts to be a two-week virtual school rather than a single day.

Currently, according to our risk matrix, we would not have independently made a decision to close because of the lack of factors affecting our community and on the evidence currently available.  We do not have a case of the virus in the ASW community and we have taken steps to protect our community, which has largely been successful.
But, we also understand the prudence of the government in supporting a broader level of concern and their steps to control this outbreak are measured by the actions of other countries around us.  We should be clear that this effort of creating “social distance” is a typical and proven strategy.  But, it is important to pay attention to the other elements of social distancing and we would recommend, like the government, that all families and students remain isolated in their homes and avoid gathering outside of school.  In reality, not doing so could put the school at greater risk when we return on the 30th by increasing exposure to a wider community. So, please avoid allowing students any degree of freedom to gather in groups outside of school.  By all reports from China and other parts of the world, this is challenging and you need to plan for it now before the transition begins on the weekend.

Bottom Line: ASW will shifts to virtual school starting on Monday, March 16 and will remain in virtual school until schools re-open on March 30.  Starting Monday, March 16, all activities and planned events are canceled as well.

The school remains open on Thursday and Friday with normal classes, all planned activities, and necessary preparation for our transition.  We understand that some parents will choose to keep their children home on Thursday and Friday.  Students absent on Thursday and Friday will have no absence penalty but will start in the hybrid program with our self-contained students until the virtual school opens on Monday. 
Communication will continue daily and we will go forward with the Facebook Live event tonight as previously planned.  Look for eNotes tonight for more information on virtual schooling. Login to PowerSchool and make sure of your access to both PowerSchool and SeeSaw (for elementary).  I’ve spoken with kids in the Upper School today at both a Middle School Assembly and High School Assembly.
Thank you all for your continued support and for the messages this morning giving me information and insight into your thinking.  I look forward to continuing the dialog tonight (click below):

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Best Regards,

Mr. Z

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