Dear ASFM Community,
We are opening school next week!
As I write this note and think about the beginning of school, I can’t help but remember the start of school from the last time I was a student. Back in 1994 I used to commute into New York City to do graduate work at Columbia University and every day I’d drive past Horace Mann School and think about the person that the school is named after. Horace Mann (1796 - 1859) is considered to be the first person in the USA to have argued that school is for everybody. He’s an inspiring figure (especially for a teacher like me), and here are my two favorite quotes from him that seem to speak to this moment at ASFM:
“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves”
“Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it”
On Monday we are working for each other as we get a PCR test in order to enter school. We are making a sacrifice of not only 375 pesos, but also a lifestyle sacrifice. We are prioritizing in-person learning, which means that we will have to give up some level of social interaction before the test in order to earn a negative PCR result.
The discipline necessary to achieve a transmission rate of 0.5% or lower means committing to “weaving a thread” each day until we cannot break the “cable.” We will know we’re unbreakable when we have reached a transmission rate of zero. If areas of Brazil can do this, we certainly can too!
Between now and tomorrow you will receive a letter from our communications department with instructions for your children. In this letter you find your child’s pool test code. If you have more than one child, then you will receive more than one letter, one code for each child in your family. In this letter you will see your 30 minute time slot for your child’s PCR test. Since we’re moving over 2400 students through this process you must be punctual. Many of you will have to go to more than one tent, but don't worry because we’ve created a fast lane for all parents needing to make more than one stop. Finally, you must not eat within an hour of the test or brush your teeth within two hours.
There is no question that we need to ask for your patience, flexibility and positive spirit with this process. My guess is that this will be quicker than the last time we asked you to take a COVID test. As you enter the tents, please remember the goal: to fill our classrooms and campus with your COVID-free children. If we attain a documented zero transmission rate, it will be very difficult for the authorities to close us.
In my home town of Concord, Massachusetts, we sometimes see bald eagles flying high over the rivers and fields in search of food. Eagles are amazing creatures. They soar high, they aggressively look after their young, and they can navigate in a storm. We are eagles! We are doing our best to look into the future, seek the very best for our children, and be willing to find opportunity even in the middle of a storm. Together we rise.