Update on our efforts…

Ukraine

Our efforts communicated to the community on March 2 are in full swing now and this is an update of our status of enrollments and our ongoing service efforts.

Our first focus has been serving a displaced population of students from the CEESA schools most affected in the early stages by the war in Ukraine. In total, 4 schools were forced to evacuated for reasons of armed conflict or political unrest. This includes the two schools in Kyiv, one school in Minsk, and my previous school in Moscow. From this list, more than 60 have reached out for possible placement and we are currently serving about 19 from that list. Others are still in process and some that were originally offered spots have now moved on to other countries or new assignments. In some cases, in order to preserve class size limits, we are only providing part schedules to upper school students where we have space. Some of these students will remain connected to their teachers from their prior school virtually for some classwork. A tremendous thank you to the Admissions department for adding this process to their already busy season of new applications for next year

It’s important to note that these families have been invited to apply for next year, but they will join the existing application process. As you all know, we have challenges at some grade levels and waiting lists are already forming.

Our humanitarian and service initiatives continue to be ongoing and robust. We are working to keep you updated on our work, but it is daunting at times with many initiatives going on at the same time. In general, we have organized as follows:

We have a core team led by our long time Service Learning Coordinator, Ligita Miele, and it has generally established three tiers of action in a collaboration between students, staff, and PTO. PTO is providing additional insights below in eNotes.

Tier 1 was focused on supporting refugees in our ASW community homes.  This includes finding additional homes, coordinating support and leveraging community resources.  We foresaw a need for everything from legal support to medical needs and asked our community what they could offer. We quickly started up a meal train with families providing meals to host families to support feeding refugees.  In order to make this sustainable, we set up a makeshift kitchen and a volunteer chef from the United States flew to Warsaw to help expand the donated preparation space into a competent volunteer preparation center.  We now send out prepared and packaged meals to more than 100 each day in support of our host families.  Tier 1 is also focused on transitional planning and supporting the move of refugees to onward destinations which may include reuniting with families in other EU countries or other destinations.  We also provide COVID testing with our medical partner, Epixpert, when symptoms emerge or as needed in advance of travel. We can’t begin to thank enough members of the community that continue to donate their time, buildings, resources, and effort toward taking care of the refugees in our midst.

Tier 2 is focused on moving donations and supplies to both the above supported refugees locally and the broader refugee population located in Warsaw and to the east along the border. Utilizing the direction of our partner, the Refugee Center, we have directed a massive amount of goods and materials to these destinations, now totalling more than 1600 boxes of clothing, food, baby supplies, pet supplies, etc.  Student and parent volunteers sort and repackage donations that are literally streaming in from around the world.  Trucks unload regularly and we facilitate new trucks with sorted goods to all of the recommended destinations.

Tier 3 is focused on other sustainable efforts.  We are now looking at the establishment of a school-based foundation.  We are currently using the pre-existing school charitable foundation in the US (501c3) that is already aligned with this work under service learning here at the school. But, we are now moving close to US$100K in donations and considering the sustainable activities of the above tiers and going further into other areas.  The long-term implications of 2.5 million people is daunting to consider.  Right now, we are a bridging activity while government funding (Polish and offshore) is organized and funneled to refugees.  Our development of a school-based foundation would further support these efforts in partnership with these agencies and expand our outreach to those in transition.  This foundation could also be an opportunity to serve the organization of preserving Ukrainian education in the longer term here in Poland as well as further west into Europe, where many of the refugees are likely to migrate. Tier 3 also includes grade level projects that might include tutoring and other activities for refugee children using weekend and after school hours.

Donations are being directed to a wide range of activities that fill gaps and provide for logistics for getting donations to where they are needed most. Funds have been spent to get supplies that were not otherwise donated or fill gaps in clothing sizes where necessary according to the requests. Materials such as boxes and small equipment have been purchased that is combined with donated spaces to provide services. We also support transportation by truck of our processed donations to the centers requesting support in addition to what is used by the 110 refugees we are currently housing with families. So far, we’ve sent multiple vans full of supplies to the border and more loads are in preparation. Funds also provide for supermarket shopping cards to help bridge gaps for refugees who arrive without access to resources. Thus far, using in-kind donations, we have only spent about 10% of the funds raised to date. We are looking at this fund and choosing projects carefully to make sure that the resources are sufficient to support the demand over a longer term.

There is much here to still learn and this is providing students with key opportunities to learn more directly about service at a critical time. We have a strong leadership team made up of a lead school administrator, effective parent leaders, and a cadre of student leaders.  We have a strong school ethic of service and care, embedded in the fabric of our core values.  In this regard, we have all the tools we need to continue to be both resilient and effective.

COVID

We continue to watch current numbers on infections and latest medical advice. As you are all aware, there has been reporting in the news regarding the sub-variant of Omicron that now accounts for most of the new infections. I’ve had a couple of comments in our ongoing survey regarding this current wave that may be, according to data collected, more of a ripple.

While it is hard to predict, the Omicron BA.2 variant has demonstrated that it is more infectious than the main strain and now accounts for a large percentage of cases in areas where studies have checked through genomic testing. These numbers are believed to be the source of recent increases in European countries. While overall community spread continues to mediate, our recent cases may be related to this variant. We are hopeful that this won’t be as serious as the prior wave and it does seem that symptoms tend to me more mild, particularly for those vaccinated.

We continue to review this medical data along with our survey data that continues to come in. Thank you for sharing your thoughts HERE! We’ll share this compiled data and our decisions regarding mask wearing timelines next week. It does seem clear from the survey so far that we will not be ready any changes in early April, so our focus will be on considering dates later in the spring.

Updating our Protocols and Reminders

COVID Protocol Updates and Dates

We find ourselves at a crossroads yet again with improving conditions, but an air of caution because caseloads, while demonstrating a downward trend are only moving slowly in the right direction. It seems that each day we are encouraged only to be followed by a day where there is a list again. This is challenging for trying to drive projections and move forward with implementing strategies that we see in other places in the world. But, we also know that this pandemic has taught us that no two places are the same and each must be viewed in its own context. This was the reason that the US CDC changed its guidance. First, they change the criteria being used and second they no longer provide global guidance, but three levels of guidance based on localized circumstances. If you are in an area of high spread, you have more restrictions, low area, less restrictions. Sound familiar? Yes, the CDC seems to have affirmed our approach of a low/medium/high posture with regards to protocols.

Tonight we are announcing a schedule of incremental changes over the coming weeks that we intend to constitute moving from Medium level to Low level in some areas of our overall plan. The main document has been updated and can be found here for your review:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1T13qBUFwwUIpKtR7O1DQICP5_KPN2RpK/view?usp=sharing

But, the main report does not specify the levels and where we intend to move while we continue to monitor the results. Here is the summary of our changes by date we tentatively intend to implement.

  • March 21 – Expand events access, relax cafeteria practices, and testing to once per week
  • March 28 – Relax cohort isolation (various facilities and pathways)
  • April 4 (tentative) – relax indoor mask mandate – conditional on case management, home testing, attestation, and survey results.

We intend to send details each week in our Weekly bulletins on how each area will be implemented and the slides presented tonight at Town Hall are included HERE in advance and have more detail drawn from the main guiding document. Please join us to ask your questions.

In addition, we are launching a survey on the final steps on April 4 and would seek input from all constituents before finalizing that stage. That survey is HERE (you’ll need your my.aswkey.org – parents – or school email login – students and staff – to participate).

Thanks as always for those who give us feedback. We appreciate your participation and engagement!

Time to get on board – my.aswkey.org

ASW has recently launched a new Parent Portal my.aswkey.org. The portal is a great source of information and a gateway to all school services such as PowerSchool, ManageBac, Seesaw, and more.  There, parents can find the latest issues of the eNotes, news and resources provided by the counselors as well as photo galleries from the latest events taking place at school. We encourage all parents to visit the portal to view the photos from the recent Middle School musical “Fame”, US VP Kamala Harris visit, or a TVP World coverage of ASW support for Ukraine refugees. To log in, please make sure you get your new “MyASWKey” accounts up and running!

Should you need any assistance logging in please contact help@my.aswarsaw.org.  Frequently asked questions and supporting videos and documentation can be found HERE.

Introducing New Staff

Speaking of the my.aswkey.org account above, if you want to read the bios of our new staff for 2022-2023, you can go HERE, but you’ll need your new credentials to access this (see above).

Save the Date – June 4, 2022 – Inaugural Gala – “A Stroll Around

As the community continues its impressive response to support the needs of Ukrainian refugees, we are committed to continue and even grow our efforts. Further, we are also committed to developing our capacity to respond to other needs–some that preceded this situation and some that will exist after.  It is precisely for these reasons we established our initiative to formalize and enhance a “Culture of Giving” at ASW.  We are pleased to ask you to mark your calendar for the first Saturday in June for an inaugural event.

Celebrate, showcase, and support the members of our community and the enduring impact their actions have. Proceeds will be directed to ASW’s efforts to extend and continue support the Ukrainian refugees as well as the school’s service learning and scholarship programs.

Service Showcase *  Raffle  *  Student Art & Performances  * Reception, Dinner, and Dance 

Many things…

Our Efforts for Ukraine

I hope you are or were able to join us by watching Town Hall or watching the recording to get a sense of our efforts relative to Ukraine support. Following up on my letter from Monday, we are organizing on a number of fronts, the most visible being an ongoing stream of donations that we will continue to process and forward in the coming days and weeks. Keep it coming and many thanks for the outpouring of support so far. Our website for this purpose has all of the necessary links to participate and please check back often for emerging needs.

https://www.aswarsaw.org/community/aswforukraine

Please go here for all the information you need on how to participate. In particular, fill out our survey on what you can offer. We are still in the very early stages of this and as more becomes clear, we’ll reach out continuously to the community. Students are actively engaged in supporting actions here at school. Our Service Learning Office is providing all coordination. We have many families already helping with housing and support for refugees. Others who have volunteered will be contacted as needs become more clear.

We’ll continue our path at school to keep things as normal as possible. Activities and events will go ahead as scheduled. Some may be slightly modified, but there is a strong desire to keep our students engaged and focused in the coming days as we all process and act on what is going on around us. Initial efforts of our team to support specific needs is ongoing and available to you upon request. Open as always to your additional comment and suggestions.

Board Communication on Ukraine

Dear ASW Families:

While I have always been impressed by the dedication, commitment, and generosity displayed by our community during times of crisis, I have never been more proud of our ASW family than now. The #ASWforUkraine campaign is strong, and we are all in it for the long-haul to best support one another and refugees in need of our help. Our efforts continue to be truly impressive and all-encompassing.

The Board of Trustees is fully committed to helping these efforts move forward and flourish on all fronts. To that end, Director Zurfluh has written a comprehensive resolution to support CEESA School students displaced by the War in Ukraine, which the Board unanimously approved early this week. This resolution allows for Mr. Zurfluh and his team to take swift action to support CEESA students and their families coming from Ukraine and Russia in need of our assistance to enroll at ASW (as grade level numbers allow), not worry about Registration Fees or tuition in general, and receive other essential support for the smoothest possible transition here.

The Resolution also describes support of these CEESA member school students in assessments and other related learning services. It speaks to the continued commitment of supporting other refugees through our #ASWforUkraine campaign and other community support and charity work.

Please see the official Resolution HERE.

Thank you all for your continued support, resilience, and unity during this unpredictable and tragic time. Together, we can make an impact that matters and be a refuge for our families most in need, both old and new. And together, we will become stronger and even more capable of changing the world for the better.

Katharine (Kay) LaBanca
Chair, ASW Board of Trustees

Current COVID Status

As all are aware, we have clearly past the peak of the 5th wave and it now looks like we are moving into territory where we can make some moves on a more relaxed posture. We want to complete testing this week before announcing changes, so we will be communicating those next week for implementation shortly thereafter. Our final vaccination event will be this Saturday and sign-up has already closed. Reminders to those who are signed up will come shortly. We won’t be doing anything further with vaccination this school year unless there is a change in protocol or release of new vaccines for our youngest students. Please keep us informed of your child’s vaccinations by sending your documents to aswhealth@aswarsaw.org

Board Elections

Later this week you will receive your personalized ballot for ASW Board of Trustee Elections.  While we have two candidates and each are running unopposed, we need to complete this election process as prescribed by policy. Here are our candidates for each seat (US and non-US:

Your ballot will include a personalized link that can only be used by you.  An invite will be sent to all parents registered in our system with your personal email.  Please contact us at director@aswarsaw.org if you do not receive your ballot by the end of the week.  You will receive reminders until you cast your ballot and click on submit.  The voting closes on March 17 and the results will be certified by the board at their regular meeting on April 11.

Board appointments were completed at the last board meeting and we are pleased to announce the appointment Magdalena Kowalska who will extend her time with the board for an additional 3 years, and please welcome Mr. James Simmons for an initial two year term. Information on both board members can be found in the board action item HERE.

Parent Portal – My ASW Key – @my.aswarsaw.org

We are happy to be launching our new portal to provide parents access to all things ASW. You will be issued a new ‘My ASW Key’ made up of a username, which is a parent ASW email address and a password for use in accessing all of our ASW portals and resources. This will take us some time and processing, but will improve our communications significantly in the coming weeks/months. It starts with sending each of you a new account credential under the “my.aswarsaw.org” domain. This works like any other Gmail account and you should install it on your favorite email application. In the coming months during our transition period, we want parents to adopt this as our primary way of communicating with you. But, we also need to maintain contact with you through your personal email and phone numbers, so there is still a place in PowerSchool for updating that information as it changes and we will have access to your personal email for urgent communications during the transition period. The more you use the Parent Portal address, the more effective this tool will become in providing a protected space for our school community. This aligns with our GDPR and child protection initiatives and effectively creates a safe arena for expanding access to key resources that we use to support your child. Please watch for further communication on this and the key messages that will get you up and running as smoothly as possible. Directions and instructional videos can be found in the Parent Portal Support Page. If you need help at any point, reach out to help@my.aswarsaw.org for assistance.

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