Welcome Back!

I hope you all had a wonderful spring break. Certainly, students have shared great stories of their time travelling or just exploring local parks, playgrounds, and backyards during this early part of spring. The joy of getting back to school was wonderful for all of us!

Faculty and Staff Appreciation

I want to personally thank all of the PTO volunteers who made it such a special day today. The array of treats, the expression of joy, and the appreciation of all that we do for your children was enjoyed by all!!   Our partnership as a whole community really shines during traditions like this and the beautiful plants, like our collaboration, will continue to bloom and grow!!

To all Faculty and Staff at school, my earnest thanks and appreciation for all that you do.  Like parents and children, I’m particularly thoughtful on this day each year when I ponder all that you do every day to enrich and nurture young lives.  I am so proud of all that you have accomplished, through adversity and always.  Please accept my acknowledgement in this public forum of our collective awe and regard!!

Upcoming Changes for COVID Mitigation

Here’s the current summary list that we will discuss tonight as well during Town Hall (recording available tomorrow as well).

  • Questions on the Daily Survey will be changing this weekend and will be simplified.  But, the importance of the daily survey needs to be reinforced as the best way of protecting us from an increased spread as we move into the endemic phase of this disease.
  • Masks become optional starting on May 2nd and continuing only as a mitigation strategy if we have an outbreak in a grade level or cohort.
  • We open further for cross-cohort access starting on May 2nd
    • Primarily in common areas of hallways and spaces like the library and cafeteria.
    • Begin transitioning back to a single Health Clinic located in the elementary hallways – open hallway in that area to Upper School access (starting on May 9).
  • Relax seating and distancing limits – use facilities at an 80% capacity level
  • Open access for parents attending outdoor events
  • Indoor Events – all parents may attend under test-to-attend in one of the following ways:
    • Testing here at school for the usual cost of 50 PLN on the day of the event
    • Test from outside provider accepted if done within 24 hours of the event. Present documentation and you will be allowed entry.
    • No testing is required for students, staff, and registered volunteers who are “green” on OK4School
    • No testing will be required for individuals within 4 week grace period of their recovery
  • Cafeteria increased open hours and expanded menu starting May 10.  8a to 4:00p
  • Parent access to the central core – main entrance, hall of flags, cafeteria, PTO Store – limited to 8a to 10a M-F – starting on May 10.
  • Health screening testing continues once per week – 25% of the school population each day, M/T/Th/F. (Next week, Tuesday shifts to Wednesday due to the Constitution Day holiday.)
  • Temperature check at main entrance only for unbadged individuals or individuals not using OK4School

We’ll talk about this more tonight, but we’ve only seen a limited impact from travel and the only cautionary point regards the number of cases we are seeing based on a family transmission that starts with parent infection.  That is the one remaining factor that keeps us slightly cautious and requires a test-to-attend program for parents in the short term.  We’ll monitor this over the next week or two, but we believe this to be the prudent approach for the time being.  If we can relax further, we will do so based on observed results.

Thanks, as always for your continuous feedback which is reviewed regularly.  We are still working hard to find the right balance and be responsive to your hopes (ours too) while not going too far beyond the comfort level of our various stakeholder groups.  I know most understand this and will allow us some space for incremental steps that are meant to keep our students and staff safe.

From the Director – 13/04/22

COVID Planning for After the Break

We’ve been working on our plan for COVID mitigation after spring break in recent days while evaluating the results of our recent changes.  We have seen a minimal impact from our incremental relaxation so far and feel like we are ready to continue down this path a bit further.  Thank you for your patience as we apply government decisions to a decidedly more vulnerable setting with greater expectations for moving cautiously and thoughtfully toward what that data increasingly supports.

At the core, we believe, based on multiple sources of advice, that we are moving slowly from a pandemic to an endemic phase of the virus.  There are many sources to this opinion and it is becoming clearer based on reduced hospitalization and continued study.

As such, the school will move from the original strategy of Stop/Protect/React to a lower level mitigation strategy of Protect/Identify/React.  The original goal remains – to keep us all in school.  But, under the original model, our goal was to avoid infection while under the new structure, the primary goal is to reduce and respond to infection.  It maintains many of our layers but reserves some of them more as mitigation measures rather than as daily expectations.  This also shifts some responsibility to the individual in determining how they manage risk.  We still have to be concerned about the potential for more serious illness. So, in some areas, we will still take a moderate approach until there is greater clarity in Europe and around the world.  We have to maintain a readiness to be more restrictive if conditions demand.

Right after the break, we will be slightly more restrictive until we complete a week of precautionary testing.  Testing is an area where we are able to adjust when the situation demands.  With many travelling next week, all agree that we need to be prudent with testing following the break.  While we have not scheduled a re-entry testing day, we have developed a schedule for testing the entire school population in the first 48-hours of our return and a second time that same week to be sure we identify any cases as early as possible.  Since we did this same strategy recently for our long weekend, this is the choice for the upcoming break as well.  All of our other changes, listed below, will start on May 2nd as follows:

  • Mask optional for all staff and students on all days unless identified as part of a group or cohort where masking is applied as a mitigation strategy for an identified case.
  • Additional relaxation of cohort isolation.  Maintain cohort areas, but allow students to cross cohorts more freely, particularly in shared spaces
  • Move all health services back to its original location and re-open transit for Upper School students to this area
  • Expand access to events through the Test-to-Attend program.  More details on this after the break.
  • Outdoor events access for parents without testing.
  • Relax seating limitations and distancing
  • Allow access to parents for limited areas and times.  More details on this after the break.
  • Cafeteria expand open hours to 8a to 3:30p and continued relaxation of cohort mixing – primarily at Upper School
  • Continue attestation with some changes to survey
  • Reduce temperature checking at the main entrance by excluding staff students using OK4School.

All of the above may be modified or retracted if the situation demands based on the results of testing in the week following the break or in the case where information suggests we should increase protocols due to new concerns (e.g., community spread, a new variant, etc.).  This would be based, as usual, on medical advice and Crisis Team consideration.

Parking Lot & Pick-up

It’s always good at this time of year to remind everyone about expectations in the parking lot.  Please remember that yellow zones are not parking areas.  You may not leave your vehicle for more than 30 seconds and you must move your vehicle if directed by staff at any time.  That means that you must always be within a line of sight to your vehicle and move it as quickly as possible.

I should hasten to mention, that it is polite and good etiquette in a parking lot to move out of the yellow zone and circle the parking lot to allow others to pick up their students if your child is delayed for any reason.  The intent of the yellow zones is to maintain the flow of traffic.  While some degree of waiting in your vehicle with the engine off is generally tolerated, we would expect you to move to a parking space if your child is delayed in exiting the building.  In this regard, our security or other staff may ask you to move and circle the parking lot to open a space for others and you should obey their instructions at all times.  This is critically important in the mornings near the elementary entrance as busses are also using this area to drop children off for school. No car may remain in this yellow area for more than 30 seconds.  Staff are on duty for this purpose to monitor your children at the entrance to the building or playground as appropriate to their age.  Kiss-n-Go was always meant to be done AT the vehicle to avoid any delay.

All of the above has safety implications and we should add that you must control your speed in the parking lot at all times to less than 10km/h.  Stop for crosswalks and pedestrians.  Always watch carefully for children emerging from between cars.  You must follow the directions of security and other staff at all times and I would also ask for courtesy in this regard as well.

In the case of concerns about any vehicle, the school always reserves the right to deny entrance to any vehicle that is unwilling to follow our directions or protocols.  When an infraction occurs, our security coordinator will notify you and this will serve as a warning that future incidents may require suspension of your access privileges. 

Thanks to all who help us maintain a smooth flow each day, both morning and afternoon.  We are generally very efficient and I appreciate your efforts in this regard!

Let the Art flow…

It’s been wonderful to see all the art opportunities emerge during Art Fest this week and we are all looking forward to the HS Play as well. Many things happening as we finish the two weeks before our spring break this year. But, this week in particular will be amazing! My best wishes to the IB artists tonight and to all the art engagements in the days ahead! Many thanks to all the hands in the Performing and Visual Arts Team for their work toward making this happen for all our students.

I hope the conferences went well for you and I want to thank teachers for all their efforts in sharing your child’s accomplishments with you. With that, you should have a plan for the remaining weeks of the school year in order to maximize opportunities for growth and continued learning. Remember that we are always available to you beyond conferences. Please just reach out to teachers as needed for further clarification or with your questions. We are partners always in nurturing your child toward their goals.

Efforts for #ASWforUkraine continue to grow and develop. It has been a joy to talk to schools around the world who are dedicating their fundraising efforts to our cause. Our distribution center and food preparation is wonderful support for our continued community effort in support of the refugees in our midst. We also have moved forward on our commitment to displaced students from CEESA partner schools and many students are now in our midst on a temporary basis finding safety and normalcy in our midst. The team of parents, students, and staff should be applauded for all their efforts in our multiple tiers of engagement.

Finally, we have encouraging results in our testing today that continues to support a reduction in community spread. We are ready for our next mask optional day on Friday and, if the trend continues, further loosening. Please be mindful of the feelings of others in regards to these changes. We still have a degree of fear and we should be mindful that taking incremental steps is one way we encourage and support the needs of those who are concerned. Please remember that we have students and family members in our community who are more vulnerable and evidence from last week is that they were very concerned about the risks. They are correct to be concerned, as we all should. It is not forward looking to add too much risk hurriedly. Please be patient and supportive of the entire community as we take steps that are structured and prudent. After tomorrow’s testing, we will have a good picture for charting the path forward and avoiding unnecessary consequences.

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