ASM Community Essential School Opening Information
This document follows from and builds upon ASM’s June communication regarding reopening school. It is the result of many hours of work, consulting with external resources such as the Spanish Ministries of Health and Education, the CDC, other schools, associations of international schools and of private schools in Spain, and others. Specifics for each division will be communicated in a divisional document on August 28th.
PLEASE NOTE: The health and safety of our school community is a shared responsibility. To that end, all parents are required to complete, sign and follow through with the procedures and responsibilities in the Return to ASM 2020-21 Google form. This form must be completed by August 28, 2020.
In the face of uncertainty, what provides both balance and bedrock is our values.
While there continues to be many unknowns and every context and situation is different, we do know what we believe (in) as a leadership team, and our values will guide every decision that is taken around how we reopen. Above all else, we believe in:
Articulating the plan for September requires the school to consider certain assumptions based on research and reports from scientists, medical professionals, and government officials. As public and governmental guidelines evolve, the following assumptions will be adjusted accordingly:
We have chosen a model that has all students on campus, at the same time, for a full schedule each day. Our model rests on the principles of hygiene, masks and physical distancing where possible.
We intend to reunite the community while mitigating the risk of possible infection. We cannot eliminate the risk, but we feel it is critical that all members of the ASM community have sufficient information concerning the measures taken and are aware of their responsibility in reducing the risk of infection.
How We Will Begin
Students and faculty have been away from school since March. All of us have been isolated and adjusted or limited our lives.
It is no exaggeration to say that all members of our community have been through a time of stress and trauma, and some members may be feeling anxious.
Along with daily learning goals and objectives, our focus in the first weeks of school is to establish a sense of caring, connection and belonging. It is absolutely essential that we focus on the social and emotional foundations that support and sustain a community in difficult times.
Our priority is to support students during this time. In order to lower the psychological and social-emotional impact as much as possible for all students, we recognize the need for play and socialization, albeit, safely.
In preparation for returning to school, here are some suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control on helping children cope with COVID.
Hygiene, Ventilation, and Cleaning Protocols
Increased hand washing and hygiene procedures (such as coughing protocols, etc.) will be expected, facilitated, and monitored.
Cleaning staff have been added during the day and at the end of the day.
Balancing the use of masks and physical distancing allows us to maintain effective learning for students. Because school is a socially close environment and we have the health and safety of our staff (and extended families) to consider as well as the health and safety of students, all students will:
Specifics for each division will be communicated in the divisional document.
Temperature and Symptom Screening
We will not be taking temperature checks. Screening and monitoring of temperatures needs to happen at home.
Screening at the gate, while a strong visual reminder, has not been indicated as an effective or practical solution. We do however have to create a habit of monitoring temperature within our community, as per the Return to ASM 2020-21 Google form.
If a child shows any of these symptoms at school the nurse will call the parents and the child will need to be picked up as soon as possible so that medical guidance and evaluation can be sought.
Testing and Contact Tracing
At ASM, Nurse Mamen has been designated to be responsible for all contact tracing at the school and will follow up on all testing situations among the staff and community following the Ministry of Health’s guidelines. Nurse Mamen has completed the courses designated by WHO in relation to COVID and knows every student at school as well as the rest of the community (parents, teachers and staff.
If we have a confirmed positive case, ASM will follow the guidance from the Ministry of Health.
We will trace and identify close contacts only when there is a confirmed case of COVID. Confirmation needs to be within 24-48 hours of testing for contact tracing to be effective. Contacts include anybody that might have been in close contact 2 days prior to the confirmation of the positive COVID case. Close contacts are defined as, anybody close to a confirmed case, less than 1.5-2m away, and longer than 15 minutes unprotected (without wearing a mask.
We will inform families and ask them to seek medical advice.
The family will need to take the child to a health center if they have been contacted by the school about a positive case. The professionals at the health center will ask the family to quarantine and monitor the child for 14 days and will guide them throughout the process depending on whether or not the child who was a close contact develops symptoms compatible with COVID.
ASM will require an official negative test result and a medical note prior to returning to school with any confirmed case of COVID.
Returning to School Following an Absence Due to COVID or COVID Related Symptoms
Procedure for returning after being COVID positive:
School counselors will work with students and their families upon their return in cases of anxiety. Parents are also encouraged to communicate freely with the school counselors as soon as they notice any changes in their children. This information is pertinent for school counselors to work effectively with students in a timely manner.
Given the serious health and safety situation, the consequences of our actions in these times and our collective responsibility for the health of all, following school rules and expectations has to be given heightened importance.
Classroom and Other Spaces
Our set up and use of learning spaces is guided by the recommendations and requirements from the Ministry of Health and Department of Education for the Comunidad de Madrid along with best practices for effective learning.
We have distributed rooms and assigned spaces to decrease the density of students knowing that the combination of mask wearing, distancing and hygiene will allow us to do our best to keep our community healthy.
Classroom Materials and Routines
Physical distancing will impact many aspects of classroom procedures and may change how programs operate.
We have scheduled movements to minimize student density as well as the number of transitions.
Specifics for each division will be communicated in the divisional document.
Lunch and Recess
The cafeteria has been changed in terms of location, layout and schedule.
Busing has been modified as necessary to comply with public transportation requirements.
Parent Campus Access
To reduce the population density on campus as much as possible, parent access to campus will be limited to appointments only. Further details will be provided in divisional communication in regards to drop-off and pick-up procedures and essential meetings. Social gatherings are not permitted on campus until further notice.
Drop off/pick up
Drop-off and pick-up have been modified to reduce crowding while keeping in mind the needs of younger students who are starting school or starting at a new school.
After School Activities
At this time we anticipate offering After School Activities and Athletics.
As long as school is operating on campus, our faculty have to focus on the students in class and we expect students to be in class. Each division will have systems to support students who are not able to physically attend school due to quarantine requirements or medically excused reasons.
While it is most likely that any decision to move to an online school model will be determined by the Spanish Ministries of Health and Education, ASM is prepared and ready to move to an online model with a minimum of delay should it be deemed necessary by the ASM administration with the ASM Board of Trustees.
Regardless of whether our platform is in-person or virtual, ASM is dedicated to ensuring excellence in three key areas of school operation and functioning:
Our priority and initial focus has been to ensure we are ready to open the school physically but we are equally committed to the development and refinement of our program for online learning.
With our staff, the ASM Leadership Team is reviewing the final version of the model we implemented in the spring of 2020. Based on feedback, reflection, and new learning, we will update and revise the structure and systems to support virtual or online learning should it be required.
We have the benefit of our new team members who are coming to us from other American and international schools. We are prepared to move to an online model as soon as it is required.
This is a work in progress - As we learn more, we will adjust and refine.
None of us have all the answers, together and from shared experience, diverse perspectives, willingness to ask questions, and holding strong to assuming good intentions, we will create the community we want to be.