Oh, the weather outside is….

Carols are starting to ring in the holidays and the festive feel of the building is all around us. A Christmas tree was wheeled into my office recently. Found it a bit odd to have a tree on wheels, but the Christmas spirit that seemed to follow it was invaluable. I even had a short visit from an elf that hid behind my door, supporting the ES staff hunt. He’s a cute little guy and I miss him already. Congratulations to the intrepid hunters who found him in record time. ’tis the Season!

Much more to celebrate the holidays is coming around. We’ll be missing our usual programs this year, but still trying to be festive and jolly in the days next week with planned PTO decorations and plenty of classroom activities at all levels still trying to capture the spirit. We are thoughtful of the needed restrictions, but happy with the many things we can still capture in some fashion, always remembering how times like this bring perspective and insight into the things most important: family, friends, kindness, and hope.

A couple of items for your attention:

Flu Vaccine!!

Arriving today! With thanks to the US Embassy, we have our flu vaccine inbound and we start our flu vaccination journey TOMORROW! I sent a notice yesterday to those who filled out our advance survey about flu vaccination. As promised, they had early access to the appointment signup and have responded wonderfully. Now it is open to all. We are offering Flu vaccine in the form of Flucelvax Tetra which is the only egg-free vaccine available in the EU – approved in the EU for ages 2 and older. All the remaining details are on the signup form which is here:

There are appointments available between December 10 and 22. We will be vaccinating between 4p and 7p on weekdays and 9a to 4p on Saturdays and on the 21st and 22nd. Looking forward to serving you!!

Vice Principal Search

Please reserve Monday and Tuesday, 6p to 8p, next week for open virtual meetings in Zoom with our finalists. We will send information about our candidates at the end of the week, but please reserve the dates. We are hopeful that we can tie up these meetings with an opportunity to gather feedback on our candidates during these open meetings. Students, Parents, and staff are all invited to these open forums and we will offer a facilitated dialog with time available for questions from the audience. Looking forward to your participation. Details before the end of this week.

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Holiday Plan Reminders and…

Building on the announcement last week, please be reminded of the following Holiday Plan:

  • We have scheduled one week of virtual classes following the long vacation, January 11-15.
  • Each division will provide directions for getting ready for this week before the vacation.
  • The virtual week is a full week of school and daily attendance is required. Each day will have a synchronous activity for the purpose of attendance, but schedules will be dynamic, family-oriented, and conducive to our testing schedule.
  • There will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities throughout the week and screen time will be carefully considered in our planning.
  • You will come to school two times during this week for drive-through testing. This will be family-based testing (family comes together), so appointment scheduling will be in PowerSchool as we did during the October Break.

This is the essential information and more details are included below in eNotes and in upcoming newsletters.

HS Vice Principal Search

We have started the process to search for our next High School Vice Principal after the announcement from Laura Berntson that the family will be relocating to Belgium where Laura will become the Head of High School at the International School of Brussels in August 2021. The Search Committee has already been formed and the initial screening of over 100 applicants has been completed. The Committee will begin first-round interviews in the coming days and once we have a list of finalists, we’ll move to a community-engaged process for interview of candidates with opportunities for students, staff, and parents to all have input into the process. Members of the committee will help in organizing this and we will be arranging virtual visits for our finalists to help them get to know the school while we get to know them. Look for more information soon regarding this process and opportunities for getting involved.

Recovered Students & Staff

The medical team’s recommendation last week to institute a “recovered” status had been talked about for a few weeks including before the October break. We did a comprehensive review of the literature and confirmed through multiple sources that there is general consensus regarding immunity post-recovery for confirmed COVID-19 cases. How long immunity lasts is still unclear, but there is enough data to confirm the 90-day period. CDC recommendations state that people who have had COVID-19 in the last three months and are without symptoms are not considered a risk to others. Further, these guidelines state that testing is not recommended during this period. Currently, there are only a few reported cases of re-infection across all identified recovered cases in the world and only one was within the three month exclusion period.

Therefore, students and staff who are recovered at ASW will be excused from testing during the 90-day period after their positive test. These students should continue to fill out the daily health summary, but their answers will not trigger an exclusion.

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Plans for the Holidays and Other Items

First, a shout out to everyone involved in UN Day today. We kicked it off with a wonderful starting virtual assembly this morning despite a few technical glitches. Thank you to the many of you who tuned in and the video is now available on our main UN day page. Look further down for the details on the country videos and the quiz competition that carries through the long weekend. Many thanks to all the parents involved in the country videos and the true inspiration of the PTO Board and their guidance throughout!! And special thanks to my team here, administrative, faculty, and support staff for making sure it all came together!

Vacation Plans Now Approved

Thank you to all who provided feedback on our initial planning and thank you for your input on the rolling survey and the staff survey on the projected plan for the upcoming holiday break. We reached our decisions yesterday firming up our plan and confirming this with the Board Executive Committee.

Let me emphasize at the outset that we are not suggesting nor recommending travel during either the coming weekend or during the long holiday break. It is very clear, with recent announcements from the government, that travel, except essential, is not recommended. This is the similar message from governments around the world as we continue to fight growing numbers.

Our plan below is more about managing our return and making sure that we are all safe when classes ultimately resume and we re-enter the building. This guidance is gleaned from our original opening in August as well as our success during the recent October break. These plans worked in a general sense, but with some tweaks, they should work even more smoothly.

We are announcing at this time that ASW will move into full virtual school mode for the week of January 11-15 immediately following the school holiday break. We will be following a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities for all age levels while we provide for two rounds of drive-through testing of the entire school population. The schedules for this will be communicated well in advance of the holiday along with the plans to make sure that students are fully engaged at home for the week.

Along with this plan is a directive for you to plan to return home to Warsaw no later than January 8th in order to be ready to attend school on Monday, January 18. You should enter your date of return in the app and restart your use of the app no later than the 8th as well. We are following new CDC guidelines on exclusion relative to testing during the exclusion, once at about the third day after return and the other near the end of the exclusion. We believe January 8 gives us the best chance of effectively assuring that there are no infections as a result of any travel. Our testing schedule during virtual week will provide for the recommended two tests to certify this and will put all students back on our regular testing schedule. This schedule will also accommodate those who do not travel allowing for earlier tests on the week prior as well.

Tentatively, we have made similar plans for the two remaining long vacations as follows:

  • February Break – we plan to move the PD day originally scheduled for April 2nd to March 1, the day following the break. We plan to do re-entry testing on Friday/Saturday/Monday before returning to school on Tuesday, March 2nd.
  • April Spring Break – we are following the October model and moving parent conferences for both Upper School and Elementary to April 12 and 13 to provide for Saturday/Monday/Tuesday testing before returning to school on April 14.

These last items are tentative plans and contingent upon assessing the overall environment after the holiday break. We all remain hopeful of better circumstances that might allow us to relax our posture.

More details about the full structure of virtual school for the week in January will be coming as we get closer to the vacation. Look for communication from our divisional leadership as well as our talented Technology Team to make sure we are ready. Please plan accordingly with your own arrangements.

Please feel free to continue providing feedback on our plans through the rolling survey link in your morning daily updates. Happy to hear from you!

A final word…

Finally, a big shout out to Middle School Speech and Debate last weekend. They had a wonderful virtual tournament and I was pleased to be able to help judge and manage Zoom rooms under the leadership of Mr. James and Mr. Sidaway. It was a brilliant event and inspired performances in both speech and the spirited final debate. Thanks to one and all for a tremendous demonstration of resilience!

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