Message from our Superintendent
Exit Strategy Part 2
Dear ASFM community,
I don’t know whether it’s my imagination or the truth, but each week seems to accelerate, and the only thing that seems to move faster is the rate of change in our own community. As we continue to distance ourselves from Omicron (0.2% positive cases in our pools and 0.5% overall positive in our community) we are rapidly adding more options to our school day. I’m particularly happy that we will be sending out an announcement of our first ASOMEX tournament. In addition, it’s fun to see gymnastics has just joined the menu of afternoon activities and that an increasing number of students are signing up for afternoon sports and activities. Our campus is awakening, and that's exciting.
On the logistical front, even though Omicron is receding in our rearview mirror there are many stories from around the world to which we need to pay attention. There are new variants, and much is still unknown about the long term effects of COVID. It seems prudent to move cautiously despite the fact that we are all tired of COVID. We will continue to insist on wearing mask on campus during the academic day–no exceptions. Outside of the academic day, and depending on whether the activity is in or outdoors, we will loosen but not remove, our masking protocol. Details will be provided by the activity leaders.
I’m frequently asked whether we will continue our PCR testing program. For the foreseeable future, we will not pursue a screening protocol for PCR testing. This means that as of Monday (2/21) we will return to having regular classes. We will continue testing, but in a much reduced fashion. We will continue to monitor the viral load of campus on a sliding scale of percentages starting with a sample size of 50% and moving to a sample size as low as 10%. This strategy promises minimal disruption while at the same time allowing us access to enough information to make quick adjustments if we need to. For the long run, I’m interested in this new process where we test the graywater (waste water from the bathrooms) to determine the viral load on campus. In a future letter, I will give details about this strategy. Again, this is a monitoring strategy that would allow us to see in advance if we were going to have a viral outbreak. We will celebrate the reduced workload this strategy entails, and you can celebrate the fact that it will cost a lot less!
We are transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic. As an endemic, perhaps we should treat COVID just like any other flu. At the end of the day, however, ASFM is in the business of providing the best educational service possible to our students and families. Out of fidelity to that position, it behooves us to acknowledge that we, and the rest of the world, don’t know the lasting effects of this virus, nor do we know whether the next variant is more or less severe than the current one. It is my considered opinion that we should be conservative and continue to be disciplined about how we manage COVID in our community. We will continue to ask for your partnership in this endeavor as well as your support for a scaled down testing program.
A number of parents this week asked when they will have unrestricted access to campus. We are gradually opening our doors, but for now, I’m sorry to say, parents will have to wait a bit longer for unrestricted access. When our tournaments get underway we will create an access plan for parents. (updated ASFM COVID FAQ)
Students have asked me to bring back the cafeteria. ASFM is working hard to ensure we comply with all regulations and health protocols in order to open the cafeteria. I will have news on this during the following weeks. We’re making progress.
I’ve gotten a number of questions about the elementary school schedule on Mondays. The ELEM schedule prioritizes time for personalized learning and support, differentiated experiences as well as time to practice individual skills and concepts through small group work interactions.
Finally, I’m looking forward to spending less time discussing COVID and more time in my weekly letters turning our attention back to school and learning. Critical thinkers, responsible citizens, and well rounded individuals are the three promises of schools and colleges across the world. It’s also widely agreed upon that the best way to demonstrate your understanding of something is to be able to explain it in writing. I loved visiting Tricia Lyon’s class on Thursday where her students were in a heated Socratic discussion about which they were asked to write. Earlier in the week the editors of El Ciento Siete and the Sundial came by my office to present their magazines. Please enjoy these publications as your children are making sense of a very confusing world and in so doing demonstrating uncommonly impressive critical thinking skills. Go Eagles!
PS Don’t forget the MUNNS starts next week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eEWRxDeSSA