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.

Values

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:

  • The safety, health, and well-being of staff, students and community.
  • Maintaining the quality of the learning experience - both the breadth and depth of learning -  for students.
  • Maintaining our ASM community as a K-12 school experience.
  • The honest and clear communication that we have established with our community.
  • The ideals of opportunity, optimism, and flexibility in how we approach education, challenges, and opportunities.

Assumptions

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:

  • ASM will open as scheduled in September with a full program for all students with the expectation that all students will physically attend.
  • Our plan is based on the desire to bring everyone back as near to normal as possible.
  • Until a vaccine is widely administered, COVID-19 will continue to impact communities and require mitigation response.
  • Business will not be as usual for at least part of this year.  Several waves of infection may be likely. There may be continued disruption and the need for flexibility.
  • In order to keep our community as safe as possible on campus we will  increase hygiene, limit physical interactions and keep distance between people.
  • If necessary, supplemental nursing staff will be added.

Model

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.

  • Rooms will be frequently ventilated during and between classes.
  • Handwashing with regular soap and water for 40-60 seconds should take place every time hands are visibly dirty and always before entering the classroom or common space, before and after lunch, after using the bathroom, coming back from being outdoors or after coughing/sneezing/nose cleaning.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers will be located in all classrooms, offices, cafeteria and at the entrance of each building.  
  • The use of hand sanitizer should always be followed by handwashing with soap and water as soon as soap and water are available.
  • Children and staff will be taught and regularly reminded of normal hygiene rules (e.g. coughing protocols, handwashing, etc...).  

Cleaning staff have been added during the day and at the end of the day.

  • Cleaning routines will be established during the day and overnight for all classrooms with special attention given to shared spaces and materials.
  • Frequent ventilation (5mins/hour)
  • Daily cleaning of surfaces with soap and water from less dirty towards dirtier paying special attention to doorknobs, doors, switches, drawers, telephones.
  • Daily disinfection using a solution of bleach and water,  which involve extra cleaning staff during the day and the use of specific products to disinfect.
  • In rooms where classes change, student desks and chairs will be wiped down and/or sprayed between each transition.

Masks

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:

  • Wear a mask at all times (with the exception of eating and drinking).
  • Have both the mask they are wearing and a spare.
  • Use masks that are effective regardless of physical distance.
  • Maintain masks per manufacturer’s instruction.

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.

  • Students and staff with any of the symptoms listed below should not be at school.
  • Temperature of 37.7C or higher
  • Anybody with an acute respiratory infection (ranging from mild to severe)
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty smelling
  • Difficulty tasting
  • Muscle ache
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

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:

  1. Parents are to obtain a doctor’s note of wellness and evidence of a negative test and send this to the nurse prior to returning
  2. Parents should notify teachers and the nurse by email that the child is returning to school and the reason for the absence.

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.

Student Responsibilities

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.

  • Learning new behaviors is difficult and takes time and reinforcement. It will be our collective responsibility to model the behavior and positively  redirect students who will need reminders.
  • Students who refuse or who are unable to adjust to the new expectations and procedures will be referred to school counselors to explore possible reasons for their refusal and inability to adjust. School counselors will also work with these students and their families to help students self-regulate and adapt to the new expectations and procedures. Parents will be notified if there is an issue.

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 furniture that cannot be effectively cleaned has been removed.  
  • We have added additional learning spaces for all divisions.
  • We will utilize outdoor spaces to the maximum extent possible to allow for movement for students.

Classroom Materials and Routines

Physical distancing will impact many aspects of classroom procedures and may change how programs operate.

  • Programs such as Choir, PE, and Band will all operate but will be modified in terms of location, activity, and focus.
  • The use of shared materials and spaces will be managed. This includes classroom libraries, bathrooms and other shared resources.

School-wide Movement

We have scheduled movements to minimize student density as well as the number of transitions.

  • We will be monitoring transitions carefully in all divisions.
  • Signs and floor markings are in place to assist in guiding movement around the buildings.

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.  

  • Lower School will eat in the Lower School Gym which allows both Upper and Middle School students to have two lunch periods and to use the full cafeteria space.
  • Students may not share any food or drink with others. This means celebrations that include shared food will not happen on campus.
  • Students may only eat school lunch or home lunch.  (No food deliveries will be allowed.)
  • There will be no self-service in the cafeteria and menus will be modified to follow hygiene requirements.
  • Recess activity and equipment will be modified to meet distancing requirements.

Bus Information

Busing has been modified as necessary to comply with public transportation requirements.

  • Masks will be worn on the bus at all times.

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.

  • Buses will enter the school grounds as usual.
  • Specific locations and procedures for all divisions will be developed and communicated before school begins.
  • Upper School and Middle School students who are dropped off will enter and exit through the Baseball Field gate.

After School Activities

and Athletics

At this time we anticipate offering After School Activities and Athletics.

  • These programs will be modified to follow physical distancing requirements.

Student Attendance

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.

Online School

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:

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Wellness
  • Community Connection

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.

Next Steps

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.