COVID-19 Updates

July 20, 2020

Dear Parents,

Atlanta International School is committed to welcoming students back to campus this fall. We believe that in-person learning is the best model for our students, not only for their academic growth but also for their social and emotional development. Equally important are our efforts, using multiple mitigation strategies, to create a safe learning environment on campus in August for our students and our employees. 

This decision was made in alignment with the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics which strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school, and that school policy makers should acknowledge that COVID-19 policies are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk. 

Over the next few weeks, before school starts, we will be providing additional information and highlighting specific parts of our plan for the start of school. Please read the information in the section on the right Return To School Plan and familiarize yourself with the procedures we are putting in place to provide on-campus learning and the options for remote learning for those who require it. 

Thank you so much for your continued support for our school as we step up our planning for a safe return to high quality learning for all of our students.

Best regards,
Kevin Glass
Head of School

School Communications

List of 42 items.

  • October 26th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    We have safely operated our campus for some months now with no evidence of any on campus transmission. Close to 90% of our Primary School students and families are experiencing on campus learning, while our Secondary School remains in the hybrid model--with approximately 35% of our secondary students on campus for any given week (this varies by grade level).  

    Please do continue to practice those basic, common sense precautions that are the norm for us now in the time of Covid. Please reinforce these with your students in the run up to this coming weekend and err on the side of caution this Halloween.

    Thank you to those who have written in with questions, links to articles, and research. Keep it coming. This is appreciated. Some of those questions concerned possible testing options to add to our preventative measures and allow us to offer more on campus learning opportunities--particularly for our older students. Locally, GA Tech and several other independent schools have established testing protocols as part of their risk mitigation procedures to allow more students to return to their campuses. We are in conversation with them.

    The COVID-19 TaskForce and AIS Operations are currently exploring a possible testing regime for Secondary School. We are considering our options from both the health and safety and logistical perspectives, working to see what an AIS rapid testing program might look like. It would need to be a net “value add” to our risk mitigation protocols; thus further improve on campus safety, improve on our existing tracking data, be logistically feasible for us to manage and allow us to offer more on campus learning experiences for our Secondary School students. We will keep you informed of our work here.

    We have had two students test positive in the past week, and two pods in 4K & 5K quarantine, due to a birthday party. The students were flagged during the wellness screening and did not come onto campus with symptoms. Please remain cognizant of the common sense precautions we all need to continue to take.

    This week’s numbers show the Rt number remains slightly above 1 at 1.06 (as of 10/18), compared to last week’s reported Rt number of 1.09 (as of 10/11)--there is always a lag in the recorded data for Rt.

    Today, the Georgia Department of Public Health Daily Status update for Fulton County was reporting 150 cases per 100K of population over the past two weeks. This is slightly higher than the 140 cases per 100K of population over a two week period reported in last week’s update.

    Our school report for last week is below.

    10/19 - 10/25
    Number of Wellness Screens
    4,129
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    28
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    3
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
    52
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    3
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    2
    Number of Students on Campus
    786
    Cumulative Number of Positive COVID Cases Since August 17
    5
    Cumulative Number of Wellness Screens Since August 17
    32,990

    We are aware that all of us, including our students, are experiencing heightened levels of anxiety during the pandemic. Having to work/ learn remotely as well as always being cautious about mask wearing, social distancing, staying within your social pod etc. adds to this sense of strangeness and potential feelings of isolation. Our Counseling Team is constantly updating our wellness and mental health information on the COVID 19 Tile on the Blackbaud Parent Portal. Please scroll down the page to the School Counselors Resources section with the links embedded under that heading. 

    We are exploring other possibilities to bring in experts, advice and guidance for our community to help with our overall well-being. Our Parent Organization continues to explore ways to safely build communities, connections and relationships. To that end, please be on the lookout for information about a webinar on Mental Health and Wellness that we are in the process of planning that will be coming up in the near future.

    Wishing you all a safe and healthy celebration of Halloween.

    All my best,

    Kevin
  • October 19th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    We had wonderful weather last weekend and I hope you all had the chance to enjoy some time outdoors. We know the risk of contagion can be reduced when activities are held in outdoor spaces so we should all continue to look for those opportunities with our families.

    After a recent increase in the infection rate (Rt) and number of cases per 100K, we are now seeing some signs of potential improvement for Fulton County. This is dependent on people continuing to practice the common sense health and safety precautions we all must follow to reduce the spread of the pandemic.

    The Rt number remains slightly above 1 at 1.09 (as of 10/11), compared to last week’s reported Rt number of 1.18 (as of 10/4)--there is always a lag in the recorded data for Rt.

    At 3:00pm today, the Georgia Department of Public Health Daily Status update for Fulton County was reporting 140 cases per 100K of population over the past two weeks.  This is slightly higher than the 129 cases per 100K of population over a two week period reported in last week’s update.

    Below is our school report for the past 7 days:

    10/12 - 10/19
    Number of Wellness Screens
    5,429
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    46
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    0
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
    13
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    0
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    0
    Number of Students on Campus
    786
    Cumulative Number of Positive COVID Cases Since August 17
    3
    Cumulative Number of Wellness Screens Since August 17
    29,861

    At time of writing we have no evidence of any transmission of COVID-19 that has occurred on our campus.
     
    With colder temperatures approaching, it is more important than ever that we do not relax our health and safety protocols, vigilance is vital. This is especially pertinent as we approach a season that is traditionally full of gatherings and festivity, starting with Halloween. 

    Anyone who has visited our house during this season will know that the Glass family enjoys the holiday as much as anyone, but this year it really does need to be different. Following the Halloween guidelines for our neighborhood community here in Garden Hills, we will not be celebrating in the normal way. It is recommended that all families keep Halloween celebrations to their usual social pods and follow the Halloween guidance from the CDC. 

    This does not mean we can’t celebrate at all, there are many ways to do Halloween 2020 - here are some safe and creative ideas to try.

    At school we will continue with our Hybrid model in Secondary School, but will constantly assess local conditions and our own on campus data related to our risk mitigation, follow-up and contact tracing. We are still hopeful that our own numbers and local transmission trends will improve and allow us to fulfill our plans for a staggered move to the next level of on campus instruction in the future. 

    It is a challenging time in many ways, not least supporting the social and emotional needs of our children, please take a look at this recent resource from the CDC which provides some useful guidelines and age appropriate resources:  COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit.

    All my best,
     
    Kevin 
  • October 12th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    I hope your families all enjoyed Fall Break and practiced good health and safety practices while you were away from school. We have seen news over the last few weeks describing “pandemic fatigue.” Many are saying this lack of motivation to continue following the health and safety guidelines is contributing to the increasing case numbers we are seeing in parts of the US and Europe. We have all experienced the feelings of wanting all of this to be over, but it is very important not to lose our determination and discipline. Here is an article from Johns Hopkins giving some tips to address this.

    We will continue with our Hybrid model in Secondary School for the time being--as we assess local conditions, the impact of Fall Break and our own on campus data related to our risk mitigation, follow-up and contact tracing. We are hopeful that our own numbers and local transmission trends will allow us to consider a phased relaxation of some of our more onerous risk mitigation strategies and a staggered move to the next level of on campus instruction.  

    A word of caution here, though. At the moment we are seeing the infection rate (Rt) and number of cases per 100K increase again after an improvement at the end of August and end of September. Here are the numbers for the last three weeks. Note that there is a date lag for the Rt number.

    Sep 28
    Oct 5
    Oct 12
    Rt Number
    0.96 (9/20)
    1.00 (9/26)
    1.18 (10/4)
    Cases per 100K
    115
    105
    129

    We had some questions last week about a situation in Primary School where a parent was positive and informed the parents in the class. Some wondered why the school didn’t notify the entire class.

    When someone is considered a 'person under investigation' at school, we work with those families directly. If it leads to quarantining only that child, we only inform their parents. If it leads to quarantining the entire pod, then we do so and inform the parents of all the students in the pod. In this case, a parent was diagnosed with COVID-19 and shared this with us. They kindly, in turn, let the other parents of the class know who it was. The student in this family was asymptomatic and was quarantined, as per our procedures.

    In this case, the person at school was neither symptomatic nor positive so, as per our now (alas) routine procedure, no further notification was needed. The positive person was NEVER on campus, nor had contacted any of our students or teachers (other than their own asymptomatic child who was subsequently quarantined with their family). In short, there was no exposure to the pod so that is why no wider notification to the pod was made. We follow the recommendations and guidelines of the county health department, and that is what we have done in this case.
     
    I want to thank all families who are completing the screening daily and to remind the few who are still missing a day now and then, that if your student is on the hybrid learning model, please fill out the SchoolPass Wellness Screen everyday. Even if your student is off-campus for the week, we still need the screening completed.  This gives us the best possible data set to inform our decision making moving forward.

    Here are our Wellness and Case numbers for the past two weeks:

    9/28-10/4
    10/7-10/11
    Number of Wellness Screens
    5,028
    304
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    36
          1
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    2
    0
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
          5
          0
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    2
    0
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    0
    0
    Number of Students on Campus
    786
    20
    Cumulative Number of Positive COVID Cases Since August 17
    3
    3
    Cumulative Number of Wellness Screens Since August 17
    24,128
    24,432

    My sincere thanks to all our students, families, faculty, staff and contract workers who are so assiduously following our risk mitigation policies, protocols and procedures. Please continue to do so and please encourage your families, friends, neighbors and colleagues to continue to practice the simple, common-sense measures that we all now know by heart. They really will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in our school, and reduce the spread in our wider community and in our city. We all have our part to play, it remains important and, even though we are all suffering Covid-19 fatigue, we just have to see it through.

    All my best,

    Kevin
  • September 28th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    We are moving towards Fall Break in a few days and want to ask that before the end of this week you fill out the survey indicating your choice of in-person or remote learning for your child for the next four-week cycle. You only need to fill out the survey if you are changing your child(ren)’s mode of learning. The next cycle runs from October 12 to November 6.


    As we anticipate Fall Break, I ask all of our families to continue the safety efforts you are practicing now, wherever you may be planning to spend the break. Your vigilance in keeping your family safe and healthy will allow us to sustain our success to-date in preventing transmission of the virus on campus and will help us continue to keep our school open in the weeks to come. There will be no requirement to quarantine after travel during Fall Break.  You will, of course, still be required to complete our School Pass Wellness Check for your student upon return to school from Fall Break.

    For our Primary parents and caregivers dropping off students in carline, please ensure at dropoff in the morning, the driver dropping off the student has the wellness screening on their device so that it can be shown to the adults on duty in the carline. We have had some nannies and babysitters without SchoolPass on their devices as they drop off students.

    I want to remind our Secondary families of the importance of filling out the daily Wellness Screening for students whose cohort is off campus. If your child is symptomatic we will need to discuss with you the student’s contacts for 48 hours before developing symptoms and we always need to consider the siblings of any potentially symptomatic students who would also need to stay home. To summarize:

    • School Pass Wellness Checks must be done for all students who are participating in on-campus learning, even if their cohort is not on campus that day, or week.
    • Fill out the wellness screening when you are keeping a student at home regardless of the reason for keeping your student at home.
    • As a reminder, siblings of any student who does not pass the wellness screening should also be kept at home.

    If a student does not pass the wellness screening and stays home, please, if advised by our nurse to do so, go for testing as soon as possible. We have seen great proactive responses from our Primary parents in getting their children tested out of an abundance of caution. These actions have resulted in a reduction in quarantine time for their student’s pod and teachers.  Thank you for your proactive engagement there.

    The Rt number for Fulton County is moving back down after a small uptick, and  remains less than 1. We believe the small increases we saw over the last two weeks may be linked to groups gathering over the Labor Day Weekend, but the numbers to-date indicate that there was more attention paid to health and safety practices during Labor Day than over the Memorial Day Weekend and July 4th Holiday after which we saw surges in case numbers.

    Today’s published number of cases per 100K of population for the last two weeks for Fulton County is 115 compared to last week’s 127. The Rt number for September 20 is 0.96, slightly down from last week’s number of 0.97 (there is always a lag in calculating the actual data).

    Please note that our number of cumulative COVID cases has gone from 4 last week to 3 this week. This is due to a false positive test reported last week, identified when the student had no symptoms, was evaluated by a physician, and took two additional tests, both of which were negative.

    Weekly COVID Screening Report: Week of Sep 21 to Sep 27
    Number of Wellness Screens Week of  Sep 21 - Sep 27
    4,267
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    45
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    2
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
        14
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    2
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    0
    Number of Students on Campus
    786
    Cumulative Number of Positive COVID Cases Since August 17
    3
    Cumulative Number of Wellness Screens Since August 17
    18,269


    Wishing all of you a healthy, safe and restful Fall Break!

    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • September 21st, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    I will start with some information about a change in our PD Half-Days for September 30 and October 23. Given our more complex current schedules we have made the decision to make September 30 a full school day and October 23 a full day of professional development for teachers with no classes for students.

    I also want to strongly encourage everyone to get a flu shot for themselves and for their children. Here is part of a communication from the National Institute of Health last week:

    COVID-19 isn’t the only infectious disease that we face. As many of you know, seasonal influenza remains a significant threat to our health every fall and winter, and we believe that threat may be exacerbated by COVID-19. Ensuring that as many Americans as possible receive flu vaccines before the upcoming flu season will be more important than ever.
    Each year, flu vaccination is an indispensable part of our comprehensive public health strategy to reduce the burden flu creates for our personal health and for our overall healthcare system. A 2018 study showed that, from 2012 to 2015, flu vaccination among adults reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit with flu by 82 percent.
    Those kinds of real, useful results means getting vaccinated to fight the flu can save lives and conserve healthcare resources for COVID-19 patients and others struggling with severe illnesses. A flu vaccine also helps protect our frontline health care workers, especially as they’ve been bravely placing themselves in harm’s way.
    Getting a flu vaccine—available via the common shot or a nasal spray—is a simple, easy, and powerful way to protect your health and the health of those around you. Yet less than half of the U.S. population gets vaccinated each year.
     
    This year, we’ve redoubled our efforts. Last season, more than 174 million doses of flu vaccine were distributed throughout the country. Because we’ve worked closely with manufacturers, we now project that between 194 million and 198 million doses will be available this coming season.
    And as we consider the actions we can take to  keep our families safe, please begin thinking about Fall Break coming up in two weeks. We are beginning to see some increases in our Rt numbers in Fulton County linked to behavior over the long Labor day weekend. Whatever your plans, be sure to implement all possible safety measures when you are aways from your home or socializing with others outside of your family.
     
    The Rt number for Fulton County is increasing, but remains less than 1. We believe these increases may be linked to groups gathering over the Labor Day Weekend. 

    Today’s published number of cases per 100K of population for the last two weeks for Fulton County is 127 compared to last week’s 134. With an increasing Rt number, which is predictive, we expect to see higher case numbers for the metro area in the coming days. The Rt number for September 19 is 0.97, up from last week’s September 6 number of 0.77 (there is always a lag in calculating the actual data).  

    Below is our school report for the past 7 days, running from Monday to Sunday:

    Weekly COVID Screening Report: Week of Sep 14 to Sep 20
    Number of Wellness Screens Week of  Sep 14 - Sep 20
    4,201
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    32
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    0
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
        51
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    0
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    2
    Number of Students on Campus
    786
    Cumulative Number of Positive COVID Cases Since August 17
    4
    Cumulative Number of Wellness Screens Since August 17
    14,038

    We have now been back in school for a month and while we are pleased with the success so far of our processes to prevent individuals with the virus from coming onto campus, and the prevention of transmission of the virus while on campus, we must remain vigilant in our attention to our policies and processes.

    I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank our students who have returned to campus and who have been diligently following our on campus safety protocols. Please do encourage your students to keep taking these precautions seriously--they really will help us keep our school open for most of our students in the weeks and months ahead.

    I’d also like to thank and acknowledge our faculty and staff who have just completed a first month of school like no other. Their due care and attention to the academic, social and emotional learning of our students and our on campus safety protocols is helping lower anxiety and make the strange and bizarre world we now inhabit seem as close to routine, or normal for our young people as we can make it. They have our sincere thanks and appreciation.
     
    All my best,

    Kevin
  • September 14th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    Today begins our next phase of learning as we welcome Grade 3 and Cohort B for grades 7 and 12 back to campus. We are very excited to see new faces on campus and are anticipating seeing those joining us over the next few days. As I shared last week, our for schedule for returning to campus is:
     
    Primary: 
    September 17th:  Grade 4
    September 21st:  Grade 5
     
    Secondary
    September 16th: Grades 8 & 11 (Cohort “B”)
    September 18th: Grades 9 & 10 (Cohort “B”)
    September 21st: Grades 6-12 Cohort “A” on campus
     
    Cases continue to decline in the Atlanta Metro Area from the July peak. With the Rt number also declining, and less than 1, we would expect the decline to continue if our surrounding community has practiced safe behavior over the Labor Day Weekend. We see symptoms from any risky Labor Day activities between 2 to 14 days from exposure.
     
    Today’s published number of cases per 100K of population for the last two weeks for Fulton County is 134 compared to last week’s 159. The Rt number for September 6 is 0.77 compared to last week’s August 29 number of 0.78 (there is always a lag in calculating the actual data).  
     
    Below is our school report for the past 7 days, running from Monday to Sunday. 
     
    Weekly COVID Screening Report: Week of Sep 7 to Sep 13
    Number of Wellness Screens Week of  Sep 7 - Sep 13
    2,624
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    26
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    0
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
        7
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    0
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    0
    Cumulative Number of Positive COVID Cases Since August 17
    2
    Cumulative Number of Wellness Screens Since August 17
    9,892
     
    Here is another useful chart that will also be placed on the Parent Portal in Blackbaud.
     
    Remote/On-Campus Learning Cycle Schedule
     
    Session 
    Time Period
    Survey Sent to Parents
    Survey Submission deadline
    One
    August 20-September 11
     
     
    Two
    September 14-October 9
    September 1 
    September 4
     
    Three
    October 12-November 6
    September 25
    September 30
    Four
    November 9-December 4
    October 29
    November 3
    Five
    December 7-December 18
    November 30
    December 2
    Six
    January 4-29
    December 14
     
    January 4
    Seven
    February 1-26
    January 21
    January 27
    Eight
    March 8-April 2
    February 18
    February 24
    Nine
    April 5-April 30
    March 25
    March 30
    Ten
    May 3- June 4
    April 22
    April 28
     
    We also want to give you some options if you are looking for a place to get a COVID test done. To get a free test you can check the list provided below:
     
    For testing centers not too far from school that charge a fee, here are two choices:
     
    Atlanta Urgent Care
    Dr Anthony Ferrra
    2140 Peachtree Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30309
    678-805-7425
     
    LifeHope Labs
    5009 Roswell Rd
    Sandy Springs, GA 30342
    404-891-0121
     
    Please join me in thanking our operational teams who do the behind the scenes work to keep us safe, as well as our administrators and faculty who are working tirelessly to ensure our students academic, social and emotional learning is well held across the various modalities of learning we currently have in operation.
     
    Please do continue to reinforce the common sense measures we all need to take during the current Covid pandemic to keep ourselves, our family and community safe. It is up to all of us to work together.
     
    Our task force continues to meet weekly and review the data and latest information on local viral spread, transmission, testing and hospitalization. We will continue our substantial mitigation efforts for the next two weeks at the very least and, of course, continue to update our community every week.
     
    All the best,
     
    Kevin
  • September 8th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    I hope you had an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend. We are happy to report that transmission numbers for the virus continue moving in a positive direction.

    Cases continue to decline in the Atlanta Metro Area from a peak in July. With the Rt number also declining, and less than 1, we would expect the decline to continue if our surrounding community has practiced safe behavior over the long weekend. We will know better if that has happened in 10-14 days.

    Today’s published number of cases per 100K of population for the last two weeks for Fulton County is 159 compared to last week’s 215. The Rt number for August 29 is 0.78 compared to last week’s August 21 number of 0.86 (there is always a lag in calculating the actual data).  

    With these numbers and two weeks of successful on-campus mitigation, the COVID 19 Task Force endorsed the plan to begin a staggered return to campus for the grades still in virtual learning.

    The staggered return would be as follows:

    Primary: 
    September 14th:  Grade 3
    September 17th:  Grade 4
    September 21st:  Grade 5

    Secondary
    September 14th: Grades 7 & 12 (Cohort “B”)
    September 16th: Grades 8 & 11 (Cohort “B”)
    September 18th: Grades 9 & 10 (Cohort “B”)
    September 21st: Grades 6-12 Cohort “A” on campus
     
    Below is our school report for the past 7 days, running from Monday to Sunday. 

    Weekly COVID Screening Report: Week of Aug 31 to Sep 6
    Number of Wellness Screens Week of August 31-Sep 6
    2,628
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    26
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    0
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
        37
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    5
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    1
    Cumulative Number of Positive COVID Cases Since August 17
    2
    Cumulative Number of Wellness Screens Since August 17
    7,268
     
    I have received questions from parents asking for more detail on the process we use when quarantining persons and if we can let families in the same classes or pods know the names of those who have caused the quarantine. I want to give you more detail on this process.

    We cannot give you any information that would compromise the identity, right to privacy and medical confidentiality (as per HIPAA compliance requirements) of a member of our community.

    When we have identified a person who has been flagged by our pre-screening (using SchoolPass) or has been identified on campus, our nurses follow up with that person by telephone and email immediately. If the person under investigation (PUI) is a student--this communication happens with the parents.  
     
    The nurses evaluate the situation using the CHOA self-check routine and questions (if a student) and the CDC self-checker if the PUI is an adult. Based upon this, they advise the PUI (or their parents if a student) to monitor for further symptoms, follow-up with their medical professional and possibly also seek a COVID-19 test.  We then follow up in a few days with the PUI to see how they are doing and we always ask them to inform us of their doctor's advice/ diagnosis and the result of any COVID-19 test as we are obliged to report any positive results to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

    Our contact tracing is used to determine any individuals who have been in close proximity (within 6' for more than 15 minutes) of the PUI and we require any persons who have been determined to be in close contact to self-quarantine at home for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms.
     
    We communicate directly in person and/ or in writing with those who have been determined to be in close contact (if this was a pod of students--we would write to the parents of that pod directly).  
     
    Should the PUI (or their parents) get back to us to confirm that the COVID-19 test was negative AND that their doctor has confirmed a diagnosis that the symptoms were not COVID-19, we would allow the PUI to return to campus once they have been symptom free and could meet the criteria defined in the pre screening questions on SchoolPass.
     
    We would inform any individuals who had been asked to self-quarantine because they had been in close proximity with the PUI that they could return to campus--again, having to meet the criteria of our pre screening through SchoolPass.  If these were students--we would write directly to their parents.

    If you have not been contacted directly by the school--then you have nothing to worry about, other than maintaining all your usual common sense precautions we are all taking during this pandemic.

    The schools do inform a grade level if a pod, or part of a pod in a particular grade level has been asked to self-quarantine in very general terms so as to protect the identity, privacy, medical confidentiality (as per HIPAA) of our community members.

    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • August 24th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    We are so happy to have our students back learning with us! Whether they are on-campus or online, the excitement of engaging with each other as we learn together is everywhere.
     
    I want to thank our students, our parents and our employees for following our new procedures and protocols. It is only by working together that we will be able to lower the risk of virus transmission for everyone.
     
    We want to begin sharing again the information that we are tracking around virus transmission and also give you a weekly report on what is happening at school. 
     
    The two key numbers we focus on are the number of cases per 100,000 over a 14 day period, and the Rt number. Rt represents the effective reproduction rate of the virus calculated for each locale. It lets us estimate how many secondary infections are likely to occur from a single infection in a specific area. Values over 1.0 mean we should expect more cases in that area, values under 1.0 mean we should expect fewer. For more details on the Rt rate click here. We check the Rt number for the Atlanta Metro Area by county.
     
    We check the number of cases per 100K over a 14 day period in the Atlanta Metro Area by county, using the Georgia Department for Public Health’s Daily Status Report.
     
    Today’s published number of cases per 100K of population for the last two weeks for Fulton County is 244. The Rt number for August 16 was 0.92 (there is always a lag in calculating the actual data). Cases have been declining in our locale from a peak in July and should the Rt number remain less than 1, we would expect that to continue.
     
    Below is our school report for the past 7 days, running from Monday to Sunday. We would expect some higher numbers next Monday when we have had a full week of on-campus learning.
     
    Weekly COVID Screening Report: Week of August 17-23
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    12
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    0
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
    8
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    0
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    0
     
    We would only contact you directly to quarantine your child, if your child had been in close proximity (within 6’ for more than 15 minutes) of someone who had developed symptoms while on campus.
     
    During Substantial and Moderate mitigation when a positive result, or assumed positive result is obtained, all persons who have been within close contact with the individual 48 hours prior to the day symptoms appeared, will be notified and will be required to self-quarantine for 14-days.
     
    For parents with students currently on campus, you must complete the screening information in the SchoolPass app before arriving in carline in the morning. Please make sure you have the green “Wellness - All Clear” screen on display ready to show our staff in carline.  By doing this proactively and promptly you avoid causing delays to the carline process.
     
    SchoolPass, our screening application, will begin rolling out grade by grade over the next few weeks. If your student is not yet in school, please download and begin using the app when you receive the email with instructions to do so. It’s very easy and having some practice before you need to use it for student drop off will be very helpful.
     
    I want to remind everyone as you are making plans for the long Labor Day Weekend to social distance and wear masks when you are around others outside your family. The spike we saw in late July here in Georgia was at least partially due to lack of caution during the 4th of July holiday.
     
    I have had some questions about getting Flu shots in the past week. It will be especially important to get yourself and your children vaccinated against the Flu this season. Please put a note in your calendar to get that done for yourself and any child over 8, by the end of September or the beginning of October. For children under 8 who need two doses you can start sooner. Check with your doctor or pharmacy. The CDC guidance is as follows:
     
    • Vaccine should be administered by the end of October, but vaccination should continue to be offered as long as influenza viruses are circulating locally and the vaccine is available.
    • Vaccination too early in the season (e.g., July or August) may lead to suboptimal immunity later in the season, particularly among older adults.
    • Children aged 6 months through 8 years who require 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available, and the second dose ≥4 weeks later.
     
    In closing, I want to again give you my thanks for your partnership in these extraordinary times.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • August 30th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    We are happy to report that transmission numbers for the virus are moving in a positive direction.

    Cases continue to decline in the Atlanta Metro Area from a peak in July. With the Rt number also declining, and less than 1, we would expect that the decline to continue.

    Today’s published number of cases per 100K of population for the last two weeks for Fulton County is 215 compared to last week’s 244. The Rt number for August 21 is 0.86 compared to last week’s August 16 number of 0.92 (there is always a lag in calculating the actual data). 

    Below is our school report for the past 7 days, running from Monday to Sunday. We have had requests to add the total number of wellness screens done through our School Pass system before coming onto campus and the cumulative number of positive COVID cases reported.

    Weekly COVID Screening Report: Week of August 24-30
    Number of Wellness Screens Week of August 24-28
    2,703
    Persons Flagged in Screening Process and Kept Off Campus
    24
    Clinic Visits for COVID
    0
    Quarantined:  Either reported exposure or symptoms during screening
    15
    Sent Home for COVID Symptoms
    0
    Confirmed Positive COVID case
    1
    Cumulative Number of Positive COVID Cases Since August 17
    1
    Cumulative Number of Wellness Screens Since August 17
    5,119

    As a reminder, our nurses follow up by telephone with any person flagged in the pre-screening in SchoolPass to help determine and recommend next steps.

    An additional safety precaution you may not be aware of is our placement of air purifiers in each office, classroom, and conference room. The air purifiers have Dual Air Intakes and two filters. The Merv-13 Filters achieve 99.9% particle removal. The purifier cleans a room up to 1,000 sq ft in one hour, 500 sq ft in 30 minutes, 250 sq ft in 15 minutes (CADR 250)

    We will be sending out a survey tomorrow for parents to indicate their choice of in person or remote learning for their child for the next 4-week session beginning September 14. Responses to the survey are due back to the school on Friday, September 4.

    We are repeating our reminder to everyone about the long Labor Day Weekend coming up. It is important to social distance and wear masks when you are around others outside your family. Being cautious away from school helps protect the safety of the entire community. I hope your family has a happy and safe weekend.

    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • August 17th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    We had Primary and Secondary Orientation today. Primary Orientation was virtual, and we had many of our Grade 6 students (new and returning students), and our new students from other Secondary grades with us on campus. We tested our new School Pass screening system, and our mask and social distancing  protocols. Things ran smoothly and we are looking forward to having more students returning to campus on August 20. 

    We are very hopeful that we will be able to have all students back on campus in a staggered return in September. We will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic in Metro Atlanta and Georgia, and anticipate the next successful few weeks with our risk mitigation on campus.

    Speaking of SchoolPass, by now, you should have received your Welcome to SchoolPass email with initial instructions for logging in. If you have not yet received the email, please reach out to ithelp@aischool.org.
     
    On Wednesday, August 20, the wellness screening will be enabled for those students participating in on campus learning. Please make sure to complete the wellness screening for your child Thursday morning before arriving at school.
     
    Back to School Messages
     
    I realize that you have received a large amount of information over the past few days and I have linked messages from the Heads of Primary and Secondary. This information is also available in Blackbaud under the Primary School Communications and Secondary School Communications tiles.
     

    Return to Campus Module in Teachable

    Parents of students in the ELC, 5K, Grades 1, 2 and 6  received an email from AISlearning last Thursday to access Teachable and watch the Return to Campus module that explains the Health and Safety procedures in place on campus. The module also includes the Community Pledge we are asking all families to comply with. If your child is coming to campus on Thursday and you have not completed the module, you can access your Teachable account in this link. If you have not created an account yet, click on ‘Forgot Password’ and you will be able to reset your password there.

    Facemasks

    We had questions from parents today about what kinds of facemasks we will allow on campus  and I wanted to share a short article form the Washington Post with links to the CDC Guidance and also the new Duke study on different types of masks. WAPO Face Mask Article

    I would also like to share a webpage from Children’s Healthcare with back to school resources for the start of school. CHOA Resources.

    I want to again thank you again for your partnership as we navigate this school year. We will be constantly learning, reviewing and adjusting as we go and there will be moments of frustration and uncertainty. We are all heartened by the graciousness of parents who were dropping off children today and worked with our team to solve a problem with their SchoolPass app, and also the words of encouragement we received from many of you.

    We very much appreciate all of you as we move forward together.

    All my best,

    Kevin
  • August 10th, 2020

    Dear Parents

    We had new and returning faculty on campus today for the first time in almost 5 months. It is a pleasure to see people in the hallways even if it is behind a mask and at a distance. Lots of work and planning is taking place all over the school and the excitement is growing to re-engage with our students in all of our modes of learning - virtual, remote, or on campus.  Student learning will begin for all students on Thursday, August 20th.

    This week parents in 3K, 4K, 5K, and grades 1, 2 and 6 will receive an invitation to complete the Return to Campus Learning Module in Teachable. This module includes a video with instructions for accessing campus and our Community Pledge. Our employees will receive an in-depth training module detailing all of our new Health & Safety protocols, as well as on-site training on how to mitigate the risk of virus transmission on campus. We will ask all parents  and employees to go through the module and agree to the pledge. In September, the module will be sent to all grades who are now in virtual learning, in preparation for their return to campus.

    We continue to plan to bring additional grade levels back to campus beginning Monday, September 14th, and hope to offer all students the option for on campus learning during the month of September.

    Some information about our new online learning platform called Teachable, for which you received log-in information this morning. Please don’t be confused by the fact that the platform refers to all of its users as Students.  As we are all life-long learners, we will all remain students across many areas of our lives and the Teachable platform  considers us all students.

    The Hate Speech module contains very important information on how we will address speech and behavior in our community this school year. So please confirm the invitation you received that addresses you as a “student,” and remember, as it is put together as a learning tool for all of us, you will need to complete the small quizzes for each section before you can proceed to the next one.

    By the end of the week, parents will receive an email to login into SchoolPass, our new campus management software for campus access. Its purpose is to simplify communication, streamline arrival and dismissal processes, and enhance student safety and security. 

    For those families whose students are returning to campus on August 20th, SchoolPass will allow you to complete student wellness checks prior to the start of each school day and communicate arrival and dismissal plans for your child(ren). For families who will hopefully return to campus in a few weeks, please feel free to go ahead and set up your account.

    The email you receive Thursday will contain login information and will invite you to access your account through the SchoolPass website. You will also have access to the SchoolPass app, available for download from the App Store or Google Play.

    Since Kevin Onayibi’s return to London to be with his family, Michelle Jones and Gary Paterson have worked in alignment and partnership throughout the summer to plan for our return to learning and campus for our secondary school students. They have gone above and beyond, in these anxious and trying times, to provide leadership and guidance to their colleagues and to our secondary leadership team. 
     
    I am delighted to announce that they will co-lead the Secondary School and each assume the title of Joint Interim Head of Secondary for the 2020-21 school year.
     
    I want to thank you all again for your support and partnership in our work to keep our students, employees and families safe.

    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • August 6th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    As we have been navigating these uncertain past few months we are very grateful for your partnership and support. Our hope just a few weeks ago was for all of our students and employees to return to campus together this August. In response to the current high levels of viral transmission locally here in Metro Atlanta and in response to parent and faculty feedback, we are adopting a more cautious and measured approach to returning to on campus learning later this month.
     
    We have modified the previously communicated plan to maximise the safe return to on campus learning. We also recognize that our youngest learners in primary would find it a struggle to begin the year in a virtual setting. Many of these students are also new to AIS. Our youngest secondary school students, Grade 6, are all brand new to Middle School and we have many students in Grade 6 who are also brand new to AIS.
     
    For our first four weeks, 3K - Gr 2 and Grade 6 will begin learning on campus, with a remote learning option. Grades 3-5 and Grades 7-12 will begin in our virtual learning environment.
     
    Following the ongoing successful implementation of our COVID-19 risk mitigation protocols and our enhanced campus health & safety measures in those first four weeks, and taking into account the then current state of the pandemic in our area, we will progressively bring more grade levels back to campus starting Monday, September 14th.  We will continue to assess the localised pandemic transmission on a weekly basis with our Covid-19 Task Force and base our decisions accordingly.
     
    To reiterate--we will do this in a phased, measured and controlled manner so that every student and every adult on campus knows and follows all of our risk mitigation protocols, policies and practices. This is crucial to our ability to control spread and prevent transmission of the virus on our campus.
     
    We have added two additional teacher preparation and planning days to the start of school so that our faculty have the time and space they need to plan quality learning experiences for all our students across the three models we will be running: on campus, remote and virtual learning.  Please refer to the schedule below:
     
    The updated schedule for the start of school is:
     
    New Student Orientation (details to follow from schools)
    Monday, August 17                                        
     
    Teacher Workday
    Tuesday, August 18
     
    Teacher Workday
    Wednesday, August 19
     
    3K, 4K, 5K Half Day on campus
    Thursday, August 20
     
    Gr 1, 2 and 6 Full Day on campus
    Thursday, August 20 
     
    Virtual Learning Launch
    Thursday, August 20 (G 3-5; G 7-12)
     
    ELC Half Day
    Friday, August 21
     
    5K, Gr 1, 2 and 6  Full Day
    Friday, August 21
     
    3K - 2, Gr 6: On campus or remote
    Week of Monday August 23rd
     
    Gr 3-5; Gr 7-12: Virtual Learning
    Week of Monday August 23rd
                                                             
    A reminder, the first four-week cycle of on-campus learning or remote learning is from August 20th - September 11th.
     
    A new survey will be circulated on September 1st with a return date of September 4th, opting in or out of the next remote learning cycle. The second cycle will take place from September 14 - October 16.  
     
    The primary and secondary schools will be sharing more details about the planned, phased return to on campus learning for the second four week session, which will begin on Monday, September 14th.
     
    We also anticipate holding additional town halls by school (ELC, Lower Primary, Upper Primary, Middle School, Upper School) later next week and/or early the following week. We will share dates and times with you also next week.
     
    We are in the process of updating the Return to School webpages. These updates will be complete by the end of the day August 7 and we will house our latest most up to date information there for your reference too.
     
    We understand the frustrations caused for parents in modifying our plan to return, but we ask for your flexibility in this unprecedented moment. We are seeking to make decisions in an environment where the pandemic is evolving daily and our local levels of transmission too. Our knowledge and understanding of the virus and its spread is also growing and we have better research and more informed data and opinion to build into our planning and decision making as well.
    We will need to continue to be flexible in our response to this pandemic for as long as it is prevalent in our local population.
    For those students who remain at home in virtual learning, please know that the faculty are working to provide you with exemplary, high-quality educational experiences.
     
    Thank you for your continued support and collaboration as we move forward together in support of our students’ learning and the health and safety of all of our community.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • July 27th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    Thank you to everyone who attended the Town Halls last week where we discussed the Return to Campus information that is available on our website.

    For those who weren’t able to join the Town Halls I have included links to them here:

    Topic: ELC Parent Town Hall
    Start Time : Jul 24, 2020 07:45 AM
    Meeting Recording:
    Access Password: B3NYJAN@
     
    Topic: PS Parent Town Hall
    Start Time : Jul 24, 2020 10:15 AM
    Meeting Recording:
    Access Password: cA6?.9pB
     
    Topic: MS Parent Town Hall
    Start Time : Jul 24, 2020 12:46 PM
    Meeting Recording:
    Access Password: GfS?NV8S
     
    Topic: US Parent Town Hall
    Start Time : Jul 24, 2020 02:55 PM
    Meeting Recording:
    Access Password: +L+^?$@6
     
    We have also heard the questions and concerns about returning to school from our parents and our employees. We are responding to those questions, as we go, and also recognize the anxious times we are living through as we work on bringing our employees and students safely back to campus as well as offering remote learning. We also continue to monitor all our local, national and international data sites and are, of course, paying close attention to the ongoing spread of the disease here in Atlanta and Georgia.
    We have made an update to the web pages since they were posted on the 17th regarding masks. Given the CDC guidance on masks with valves, where they recommend wearing an additional mask over the valve, we are not allowing them to be used on campus when we return.
    From the CDC:
    Respirators with exhalation valves protect the wearer from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but may not prevent the virus spreading from the wearer to others (that is, they may not be effective for source control). Until data are available to describe how effective respirators with exhalation valves are in preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 from the wearer to others:
    • Wear a respirator without an exhalation valve when both source control and respiratory protection are required.
    • If only a respirator with an exhalation valve is available and source control is needed, cover the exhalation valve with a surgical mask, procedure mask, or a cloth face covering that does not interfere with the respirator fit.
    If you have not already completed the survey due Wednesday July 29, letting us know your choice between on campus or remote learning, please do so here.
    Again thank you for your engagement and your willingness to work together, as we move towards returning to learning and returning to our campus safely.
    All my best,
    Kevin
  • July 20th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    I hope you have had the opportunity to read our Return to Campus web pages that were posted on our website on Friday afternoon.

    As you read in the plan, you see reflected our belief in the importance of in-person learning for our students, especially our younger learners. It is important not only for their academic development, but also critically important for their social and emotional development. Equally important are our efforts, using multiple mitigation strategies, to create a safe learning environment on campus in August for our employees and our students. 

    Over the next few weeks before school starts we will be continuing to send this Monday update to give you additional information and to highlight specific parts of our plan for the start of school. 

    You received an invitation from me on Friday to attend a virtual town hall meeting (or meetings) for your child/ren’s section of school on Friday, July 24:

    ELC (3K and 4)  Parents Town Hall from 8:00 to 9:30 am 

    Primary School (5K to Grade 5) Parents Town Hall from 10:30 am to 12:00 noon

    Middle School (Grades 6, 7 and 8) Parents Town Hall from 1:00 to 2:30 pm

    Upper School Parents (Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12) Town Hall from 3:30 to 5:00 pm
     
    Following the Town Halls we will be surveying parents to commit to four weeks of on campus learning or four weeks of remote learning.  The survey will be due back by Wednesday July, 29. This will allow us sufficient time to plan high quality learning experiences for both in person learning and remote learning.
     
    The first week of August you will receive videos outlining the procedures for dropping off and picking up your child at school and a link to download the app for our new screening process: SchoolPass. 
     
    This screening for symptoms is critically important to keeping our community safe and one which we will implement with no exceptions. By preventing individuals who may be sick from coming onto our campus, we prevent the spread of illness and the loss of in-person school time created by sending groups into quarantine. 
     
    I want to thank you in advance for your engagement and partnership in following all of the new procedures that I’m sure at times will feel a little inconvenient. Attention to the new processes is what will reduce the risk of spreading the virus in our community and is the foundation of our ability to keep our students on campus.
     
    I look forward to talking with you and seeing you virtually in the Town Halls on Friday.
     
    All my best,
     
     

    Kevin Glass
     
  • July 13th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    Summer Camp continues to run smoothly. Last week we had 160+ students on campus enjoying our Summer Camps. Our continued focus is the health and safety of our campers and our camp staff. Our smooth operation and ability to minimize the risk of virus transmission is in large part due to the way in which our staff, campers and families have embraced our procedures to keep our employees, campers and families safe. 

    We know some of our families have higher risk individuals in their households and we ask all parents to support their students in following our procedures in camp today, and for the start of school in August. Our families will play a vital role in keeping our community safe. We all have to do our part in mitigating risk and reducing the spread of Covid-19.

    Following the procedures is critically important across all aspects of our camps, but in no place more so than in the pre-screening of the campers. We have an email-based screening system in place for camp, but we will be introducing a comprehensive phone app pre-screening system for the beginning of school that will help us identify students or employees who are experiencing possible symptoms. This is one of the many upgrades we are making to our systems and processes to be ready to welcome students back on campus in August. 

    We will be publishing information on Our Return to Campus on our website on Friday July 17. Here you will find information across almost every area of school. This plan is based on months of work by our Covid-19 Task Force, Academic and Operational teams who engaged in research, training, discussions with medical experts, and in multiple conversations with independent schools across the South East and International Schools around the world.

    In the upcoming weeks you will also receive videos giving you detailed information on how student morning and afternoon carpools/carlines will work and procedures for entering classrooms and for lunch. The respective Heads of School will begin sharing details re: the students’ day etc. in August, and we will also host Town Hall meetings in the weeks before the start of school to allow you to ask any remaining questions that you may have.

    We appreciate your partnership in the work of keeping our community safe.  At time of writing it remains the School's intent to open our campus for our students as published on August 18.

    All my best,

    Kevin
  • July 6th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    Summer Camp Update 

    Summer Camp continues this week and we are happy to report that we have had 100% compliance with our policies:
     
    • Completion of pre-screening questions at home prior to arrival,
    • Mask wearing and mask use inside school,
    • Following risk mitigation practices on campus (remaining in their pod, hand-washing, recess, lunch, transit across building).
     
    I invite you to review our Summer Camp Guidelines in order to understand the types of policies which we will be scaling up and enhancing for our return to campus.

    Covid-19 AIS Planning Update

    Our COVID 19 Task Force continues to meet weekly. The task force is chaired by me and is made up of key leaders from across the school, together with expert medical advice from medical and public health professionals--including the CDC. The recommendations from the task force have guided all our project teams, planning and work to date including: re-opening our campus to employees; the launch of on campus summer camps and are guiding the planning for the return to school in August.

    Our strategy is based around operating school while practicing substantial viral transmission risk mitigation. All our risk mitigation protocols are challenged, checked and endorsed by our Covid-19 Task Force and particularly the medical professionals who are assisting us.
     
    We will be sharing a document next week that outlines our planning for this risk mitigation across the scenarios described in our June Parent Town Hall. The first week of August we will share videos of the specific procedures for arrival and departure, entry of students into the buildings, movement in hallways, and lunch. After the videos, we will host another Parent Town Hall before the start of school to give you an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
     

    All my best,

    Kevin
  • June 29th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    Summer Camp
    Today marked our first day of on-campus Summer Camps. We had a successful first day with 41 campers attending. Carpool/Carline went slowly this morning as we implemented our campus screening protocols with students for the first time. Our campers did a great job following our health and safety guidelines -- using their facemasks, washing their hands often, and social distancing. 

    You may have noticed that I used the combination “Carpool/Carline” above. We now have Carlines for student dropoff and pickup. We require that there be only students from one family in each vehicle for Summer Camps.

    I also want to remind you that we have spaces remaining in some camps in July, but you must sign up a week prior to the week your child starts and we will not be accepting drop-ins.

    Return to Campus
    Primary and Secondary School Leadership teams continue their work on planning the details of the return to campus for each school. At time of writing our dates to return to school remain Monday, August 17 for new student orientation and for returning students on Tuesday, August 18 - under Scenario A.

    Under Scenario A students will engage in face to face learning with teachers and students collaborating on campus. Remote learning will be made available for students who are at higher risk from Covid-19 (as per the CDC guidelines), students who are ill, or for students whose parents do not feel comfortable sending them back to school yet.

    We will maintain as close to normal a schedule as possible with necessary modifications to meet viral spread risk mitigation guidelines.

    Helpful Links
    Here are some helpful links from our newest Task Force member, a retired CDC epidemiologist currently on the faculty of Emory’s School of Public Health and the grandparent of an AIS student.

    Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday weekend,


    Kevin
  • June 8th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    Last Friday was the last day of school for our students for the 2019-2020 school year. It was the end of a school year like no other. In some ways, we have experienced two school years in one.  Life and school pre covid-19 and life and school in the midst of covid-19.  

    I am so proud and humbled by the work of our students and teachers as they navigated the transition from on campus learning to virtual learning. They did this well. I am deeply grateful to our parents who supported our students and teachers through this. We listened to feedback, iterated, improved and evolved the learning experience for our students and support for them, their families and their teachers as we moved deeper into the final quarter of the year. As we plan for our return to campus in August--I am also confident in the ability of our school and community to respond rapidly and strongy to any emerging scenario in the Fall should the need arise.

    As I have indicated previously, we will continue to provide updates every Monday through the summer and will be publishing more detailed information on our thinking and planning to date later this month. At time of writing we are planning for our students to return to campus in August. More information will follow throughout the summer and in the weeks leading up to the opening of school.

    Senior Leadership and the COVID 19 Task Force have discussed the option of following the example of some colleges and  universities and adjusting our schedule to begin the 20-21 school earlier, cancel Fall Break and have an extended Winter Break beginning at Thanksgiving. 

    Given the learning needs of our students having been away from campus since mid-March, we believe the best choice is to keep our current, published school calendar and focus our efforts on the wellbeing and learning of our students and the well being of our employees within those  published dates.

    Virtual Summer Camp begins on Monday June 15 and our summer camp staff and facilities staff are working diligently on preparations for having campers on campus beginning June 29. If you are interested in registration please go to the AIS Summer Camp Webpage.

    I want to give you some clarifying information on an AJC report last week that placed AIS on the list of schools that were accepting CARES Act Funding through Atlanta Public Schools. The AJC did not have complete and correct information. The article was referring to federal funding created to help schools in their response to COVID-19. This funding is restricted in use to implement mitigation strategies such as improving operational infrastructure to clean and disinfect classrooms, and to train faculty and staff on new health protocols. A percentage of these funds has been allocated to independent schools as part of the new law. APS reached out to the independent schools within their district to invite them to apply. AIS completed an intent form to gather more information, and subsequently made the decision not to apply for this funding.

    I don’t feel that I can write to you today without mentioning again what we have witnessed over the last two weeks here in the United States and around the world. Through the sadness and grief over the loss of life from the pandemic, our grief over the loss of life and ongoing injustice from racial bias and systemic racism towards Black people, we remain grounded in our community, our mission and core values.  Together we are here to cultivate that spirited sense of hope in human potential and courageous leaders who shape their world for the better by standing up against racism. 

    I want to close by sharing a segment of an interview last week with the author of the book Between the World and Me -- I highly recommend it, if you have not read it. Here are the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    Ezra Klein

    What do you see right now, as you look out at the country?

    Ta-Nehisi Coates

    I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but I see hope. I see progress right now, at this moment.
    I had an interesting call on Saturday with my dad, who was born in 1946, grew up dirt poor in Philadelphia, lived in a truck, went off to Vietnam, came back, joined the Panther Party, and was in Baltimore for the 1968 riots. Would’ve been about 22 at that time.
    I asked him if he could compare what he saw in 1968 to what he was seeing now. And what he said to me was there was no comparison — that this is much more sophisticated. And I say, well, what do you mean? He said it would have been like if somebody from the turn of the 20th century could see the March on Washington.
    The idea that black folks in their struggle against the way the law is enforced in their neighborhoods would resonate with white folks in Des Moines, Iowa, in Salt Lake City, in Berlin, in London — that was unfathomable to him in ’68, when it was mostly black folks in their own communities registering their great anger and great pain.
    I don’t want to overstate this, but there are significant swaths of people and communities that are not black, that to some extent have some perception of what that pain and that suffering is. I think that’s different.
    We must take this moment to do the work we have left undone in the past. There is much work to do. Our work is different, but our goal of racial justice is the same.
    Wishing you a hopeful summer.

    All My Best,

    Kevin
  • June 1st, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    Thanks to all of the 300+ parents who participated in the Virtual Town Hall last Thursday. I appreciated your engagement and your questions. Together we are navigating an unprecedented time, not only because of the scale of the changes we are coping with, but the uncertainty we must plan for. We will host another virtual town hall as we approach the start of school. I want you all to feel that you can always reach out to me personally if you have questions in between our scheduled communications.
     
    We are downloading the recording of the session and it will be available in tomorrow’s Weekly Bulletin, our last for this school year. These weekly parent updates will continue each Monday throughout the summer. We will also be sending more details of our planning in a roadmap to “Our Return to Campus” in mid-June.
     
    Voluntary employees return to campus began last Thursday. We are limiting the number of employees this week to 25. As we test and adjust our processes we will be increasing the number allowed. We continue to use a robust screening process for entry into the buildings. We are utilizing the same set of questions that the CDC uses for entry into their buildings and our strict cleaning protocols have been enhanced.
     
    Virtual Summer Camp begins on Monday June 15 and our summer camp staff and facilities staff are working diligently on preparations for having campers on campus beginning June 29. If you are interested in registration please go to the AIS Summer Camp Webpage.
     
    I want to remind everyone that our critically important Family Ambassador Program is still looking for volunteers to welcome new families for next school year. I hope you will consider the many benefits of becoming a Family Ambassador:
     
    • Make a positive impact in the life of another AIS family
    • Share your enthusiasm for the wonderful community we have and help a new family discover many of the things you appreciate in our school
    • Learn about another culture and expand your AIS circle while helping to orient a new family
    • Give your children the opportunity to expand their own circles of friends at AIS if they meet the new family’s children. 
    Today’s Reported Numbers as of 5:00
     
    Global Cases: 6,229,408  Global Deaths: 373,973
    US Cases: 1,799,747US Deaths: 104,702 
    Georgia Cases: 47,618      Georgia Deaths: 2,074
    Fulton County Cases: 4,547                    Fulton County Deaths: 235
     
    Global & US Numbers:  Johns Hopkins
    Georgia & Fulton County:  GA Dept of Health
     
    On Friday we held a graduation parade for our Seniors, our AIS Class of 2020. It was such a privilege for me and the Secondary School administration and faculty to celebrate this extraordinary group of young people.They have risen to the challenge of having a senior year experience so different from their expectations and I am looking forward to following their many successes to come. Here is some video from the parade to share the celebration on Friday.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • May 26th, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    Please remember the Virtual Town Hall on Thursday, May 28 at 5:00pm. Click on this link to register for the Town Hall and receive the zoom link.

    We are still planning for our Summer Camps launching virtually on June 15, and the in-person, on campus experience beginning on June 29. For registration please go to the AIS Summer Camp Webpage.

    We will be opening our campus in a limited capacity to non-essential employees on Thursday, May 28. We will be following strict screening guidelines and cleaning protocols. 

    We also will hold a parade on Friday for our Seniors. While we want our Seniors to decorate their cars and commemorate their achievement, we are strongly requesting all students to stay in their cars with their family and not to have students sharing a car. This weekend we have seen examples of people, in some cases high school students, relaxing their attitudes towards social distancing. I understand the urge to get out and enjoy being with your friends, especially at moments of celebration. However, we should all remember that at the current moment, and until there is a vaccine, there is not a way to gather with friends that does not have a risk. That risk is not just for the students, but for their siblings, parents and others living in their household.

    We look forward to celebrating our Seniors safely on Friday. 

    As we look towards summer, here is a very good article from NPR on the risks of different activities: From Camping To Dining Out: Here's How Experts Rate The Risks Of 14 Summer Activities

    Today’s Reported Numbers as of 5:00

    Global Cases:   5,554,469  Global Deaths:  348,447
    US Cases:  1,675,532 US Deaths:    98,717
    Georgia Cases:  43,730      Georgia Deaths:   1,871
    Fulton County Cases:  4,116           Fulton County Deaths:  202

    Global & US Numbers: Johns Hopkins
    Georgia & Fulton County:  GA Dept of Health

    In closing here is a lovely article from the BBC about some positive outcomes of our current situation. BBC: How Lockdown Brought a Village Closer Together

    I look forward to talking with you in the Virtual Town Hall on Thursday.

    All my best,

    Kevin
  • May 18th, 2020

     
    Dear Parents,

    Summer Camps
    The health and safety of our campers and staff remain our top priority so we have made the decision to cancel on-campus camps the weeks of June 15 and June 22.  Our Summer Camps will launch virtually on June 15 and for the in-person, on campus experience on June 29. This will allow the school to fully implement the CDC Guidelines for Summer Camps (link here). 
     
    We will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation, while working with the AIS COVID-19 Task Force, the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health, should we need to adjust the start date for the in-person, on campus experience. The Auxiliary and Operations Departments are working together to implement, at a minimum, the policies, procedures and best practices for our on-campus camps based upon the most up to date guidance from the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health. We will continue to keep you informed as information is updated or if any changes to our plans are needed.
     
    On Tuesday, May 19, we will share details of our revised offerings of Summer Programs.  Our wonderful vendors are planning their virtual camp options for the weeks of June 15 and June 22. The Summer Programs team will work closely with you to guarantee a seamless transfer of your June registrations to virtual camps, on campus summer programs, or full refunds should you so choose.
    For registration please go to the AIS Summer Camp Webpage.
    Upcoming in May

    May 22: On May 22 we will make a decision on allowing the campus to reopen to employees (on a voluntary basis) on May 26, or a later projected date based on credible data and guidance available at that moment.
     
    May 28: We are planning a Parent Town Hall for May 28, and as we do with the Town Halls we hold in December, we will be sending ahead a video for your review and a request for questions in advance. The focus for the Town Hall will be to update you on our thinking and planning for the Summer and the Fall.

    Today’s Reported Numbers as of 5:00

    Global Cases: 4,775,000    Global Deaths: 317,515
    US Cases: 1,500,753US Deaths: 90,312
    Georgia Cases: 38,081      Georgia Deaths: 1,642
    Fulton County Cases: 3,761            Fulton County Deaths: 170
     
    Global & US Numbers:  Johns Hopkins
    Georgia & Fulton County:  GA Dept of Health
     
    In closing a little fun from a BBC Sportscaster with no games to cover -- and also, a fellow fan of labrador retrievers. 

    All my best,

    Kevin
  • May 11th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    Late last week, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey announced that testing is now available for everyone in Georgia whether they have symptoms or not. Testing for the virus and testing for antibodies are becoming widely available.
     
    Georgia’s Public Health Emergency will expire on Wednesday May 13 and we expect further guidance from the state at that time. We will be sending out our initial plans for Summer Camps on Friday May 15, and next week we plan to have more information about the return of non-essential employees to campus. 
     
    We continue to be in close touch with schools who have already reopened or are in the process of doing so. We are refining our plans for the decision process we will follow, and the details of the different potential scenarios.  Our number one priority will always remain the safety of our students, employees and families.
     
    Today’s Reported Numbers as of 3:00 PM
     
    Global Cases: 4,148,034Global Deaths:  284,536
    US Cases:1,339,819US Deaths:  79,894
    Georgia Cases: 33,927        Georgia Deaths: 1,441
    Fulton County Cases: 3,516   Fulton County Deaths:  145
     
    Global & US Numbers: Johns Hopkins
    US & Fulton County:  GA Dept of Health
     
    During these unprecedented times, our students and our own children are experiencing a range of unpleasant emotions, including anxiety, frustration and boredom. As the adults in their lives, it’s crucial that we make space for our children’s feelings and support them in managing those feelings. There is a webinar being offered next Thursday that you may find helpful. In this webinar, Marc Brackett, author of Permission to Feel, and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, will share a four-step process to help adults be emotionally intelligent role models for children and teach them key strategies that support healthy self-regulation.  The webinar is Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 4:00pm EDT Register Here For Free.

    To close I want to share a beautiful thank-you video from the ballet dancers at the Paris Opera to all the medical workers, farmers and other workers who haven’t stopped working in service to others during this shutdown.

    All my best,
    Kevin
  • May 4th, 2020

    Dear Parents, 
     
    As more stores and restaurants partially reopen under new circumstances across Atlanta, I want to remind everyone in our community that those at higher risk of illness as described by the CDC are asked to continue sheltering in place. For those who can begin to engage in limited activities outside our homes, let us remember the importance of following the guidelines to protect ourselves, our families and the larger community. 
     
    Governor Kemp's orders on reopening require that all residents:
    • Practice social distancing (remain more than 6 feet or 2 meters apart)
    • Are strongly encouraged to wear face masks while outside their homes except while eating or drinking or exercising outdoors
    • Practice sanitation in accordance with CDC guidelines
    • Hold no gatherings of more than 10 people

    Here is an AJC article with frequently asked questions that may be helpful.
     
    Our Internal Task Force has divided into two sub-teams focused on when and how we may reopen the school. One team is operational, the other is academic. As a school we are very focused on the delivery of a world-class education to our students, but to paraphrase a business intelligence article from Wunderman Thompson, all organizations are now in the business of promoting public health.
     
    We are approaching our planning reviewing three important decision-points: 
    1. How and when can we safely allow employees back on campus?
    2. How and when can we safely allow summer camps and summer programs to operate?
    3. How can we safely reopen the campus for our students at the start of next school year?
     
    Just as we developed a matrixed plan for the operation and eventual closing of school, we are now creating an even more complex and nuanced one to address the different areas of school operations and educational delivery across a range of potential situations for reopening safely.
     
    While we are not yet at a point of sharing specific details, when we do reopen, I believe many aspects of our daily routine could change to ensure the safety of our students and employees, and doing all we can to ensure this safety will always remain our first priority.
     
    Today’reported case numbers as of 4:30 pm  are:
     
    Global Cases: 3,571,615              Global Deaths: 250,134
    US Cases: 1,176,905       US Deaths:  68,387
    Georgia Cases: 29,343       Georgia Deaths:  1,276
    Fulton County Cases: 3,063       Fulton County Deaths: 128
     
    Global and US reports from Johns Hopkins, Georgia and Fulton County are from the Georgia Dept. of Public Health.
     
    In closing, I want to share a cathartic suggestion for a little fun -- a coronavirus piñata. As the article instructs: Smash one. You’ll feel better.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • April 30th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    This will be a somewhat shorter message today as we will transition to a one message a week schedule. The plan is to send these updates only on Mondays starting Monday May 4. However, if we move into a period that requires more frequent communication, we will respond accordingly.
     
    Governor Kemp is lifting the state-wide shelter-in-place order at midnight tonight. Those who are ederly or have medical conditions that make them “medically fragile” are required to continue to stay home until June 12. There are restrictions, including social distancing of 6 feet, face masks in public and gatherings of no more than 10 people. The Governor also asks all those who can stay home to do so. "Moving forward, I'm urging Georgians to continue to stay at home when possible," Governor Kemp said on Twitter today.
     
    CBS News reports “The latest projections from the University of Washington’s COVID-19 models showed that Georgia has passed the peak in the number of deaths per day. However, the model also said that social distancing must be enforced until at least June 27 and can then be relaxed if containment strategies like testing, contact tracing, isolation, and limiting gathering size are in place.”
     
    According to theGeorgia Department of Health Covid-19 Daily Status Report, the number of confirmed cases and a 7-day-moving average have both declined since April 16.  The 7-day-moving average is a key data point that officials often reference when making decisions regarding easing of restrictions, or imposing further restrictions.
     
    Our internal task force continues to work closely with the operational and academic teams on three scenarios: 1) reopening our campus for employees to have the option to work from campus; 2) reopening our campus to limited groups of students so that we could offer Summer Camps/ Summer Programming for all or part of the summer; 3) reopening the campus to students for the start of school in August. We will have information for you on Summer Camps no later than May 15, with more updates for both Summer Camps and reopening in August to follow.
     
    While we are in close touch with schools reopening in other parts of the world, we are also closely tracking the progress of the businesses that are reopening here in Atlanta and the (hopefully) continued downward curve of the spread of the virus in our area.
     
    I have often noted the importance of community connection in this time of being physically separated in these messages. There are two events over the next two days that will give you the opportunity to virtually connect with your friends and fellow parents.  I recommend that you try to attend both:
     
    PO Virtual Town Hall
    An excellent way to stay connected to the AIS community oit to attend the PO Virtual Town Hall tomorrow, May 1st from 9:15 to 10:45 AM. The topic  will be  How to be Mindful and Connect with Your Children in Today’s World. There will be two guest speakers and our AIS Counseling staff from Primary and Secondary. To registerplease click on this link.
     
    Virtual Venture to Australia
    As I mentioned earlier this week, a great opportunity to support need based financial aid, help keep our community together, and also build community and have some fun at the same time. Saturday May 2, beginning at 6:30 PM is the Facebook Live AIS Virtual Party co-hosted by me and our favorite auctioneer, Dean Crownover. You canregisterhere.
     
    Hope to see you virtually at both events!
     
    All my best.
     
    Kevin
  • April 27th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    As we approach the end of April I think we can be very proud of the efforts of our entire community to keep our students’ learning moving forward. It is indeed a collaborative effort between students, teachers and parents.  I have seen my own children (Grade 4, Grade 6 and Grade 8) collaborating with their teachers and classmates in new and unique ways--including dropping an egg from our bathroom window without it smashing in a science option project. I have heard stories of empanada baking in Spanish with our younger students, visited a Grade 6 advisory, and engaged in our first ever virtual Senior Day with the AIS Class of 2020. I wonder how learning will be forever changed by what our young people, teachers and families are living through these days.
     
    I hope you have had a chuckle viewing our Facebook posts as we count down to our Virtual Spring Benefit on this Saturday night, May 2. The silent and live auction and most important Stand & Pledge is now open online. Please take the opportunity to create a Virtual Venture to Australia Watch Party with your friends Saturday night -- raise a glass, have some fun, and if you have the capacity to give, please help us in our efforts to raise additional funds to provide assistance to the families in our community who are in financial distress due to the economic shutdown and downturn. Funds raised during the Silent Auction, Stand & Pledge and Live Auction will all go towards needs-based financial aid. Please register now if you haven’t done so.
     
    Last week would have been the last on campus for our Seniors and there were many virtual moments of sharing memories that included the Senior Lunch and video messages recorded by alums and teachers. Seniors also received yard signs delivered to their homes, celebrating their accomplishments.
     
    In Primary School learning has been taking place in many different areas, such as 5K’s study of Forces. Here is Olivia explaining her project. There were also birthdays celebrated at an appropriate distance across our community. 
     
    We are moving to sharing updates on the spread of COVID19 virus once a week on Mondays.  As usual, the global and national reported numbers are sourced from Johns Hopkins and our state reported numbers are from the Georgia Department of Health.
     
    Worldwide Cases: 3,029,452        Worldwide Deaths:  210,374                  
    US Cases:  983,848      US Deaths:  55.735
    Georgia Cases:  23,913      Georgia Deaths:   971
     
    The CDC has added to the list of symptoms to be aware of and has developed a Self-Checker, which is meant to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care.
     
    I will close this Monday Update with another Episode of John Krasinski’s Good News as he reminds us all that we are all in this together, and hopefully we can find a way to share some kindness and joy.
     
    All the best,
     
    Kevin
  • April 23rd, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    Restorative Listening Circles
    As we remain physically distant we continue to work on ways to remain socially and emotionally connected. You received an email last week from your Head of School inviting you to participate in a restorative practices virtual listening circle. There are a limited number of places still available for the two circles next week. These sessions are on Tuesday April 28 and Wednesday April 29. If you are interested in participating in one of these circles, please sign-up for a date/time.
     
    The aim of restorative practices is to develop a stronger community and learn to manage conflict and tensions by repairing harm and building relationships.  Restorative practices combine both high control and high support and are characterized by doing things with people, rather than to them or for them. This approach to community aligns with our core values as a school, where we want everyone to feel seen, heard, treated fairly, and protected. Becoming a restorative community will be needed more than ever as we rethink how to make our school a more caring, productive, and equitable place where every child and adult can learn and thrive when we reopen into a world that is not the same as the one we knew just a few weeks ago.  
     
    Primary Virtual Learning Survey
    We continue to refine our Virtual Learning programs in an effort to give our students the best possible experience. If you have a student in Primary School and have not completed the Parent Survey, please do so. 
     
    Here are some of our Primary Students reminding us why the IB requires PE for students throughout the PYP and MYP Programs. Developing our physical abilities are an important part of well-being -- and our creative students are good at making it fun!
     
    Spring Benefit
    A reminder to register if you haven’t for the Benefit. This will be an exciting adventure for us -- our first ever Virtual Spring Benefit: Venture to Australia where the focus will be need-based financial aid to keep our wonderful AIS Community together. We are committed to assisting our families who have been impacted by the shutdown, and we ask all who are able, to join us in this effort.  While much will be new about the format of the event, the auction portion of the evening will be much like before. We have a broad selection of silent and live auction items and I invite you to join in the virtual bidding that will begin on April 27. And of course, will see you on May 2!
     
    Today’s Reported Numbers
    Global Cases:  2,682,225    Deaths: 187,330 (Johns Hopkins)
    US Cases:  856,209        US Deaths: 47,272 (Johns Hopkins)
    Georgia Cases: 21,512    Georgia Deaths: 872 (Georgia Dept of Health)
     
    Virtual Tour
    Our Admissions Team has had to adjust to having our physical campus closed when working with new prospective families, and to help our applying families get a sense of our campus when they can’t visit, Communications has developed this virtual tour: Link to Virtual Tour
     
    A Couple of Worthwhile Articles
     If you are wondering why you feel so tired at the end of a day of virtual work. This BBC article answers the question of why video chats are so exhausting.
     
    As the coronavirus changes the way we live our lives, renowned therapist, Esther Perel, has some advice.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
     
  • April 20th, 2020

     
    Dear Parents, 
     
    Today by 5:00pm the global diagnosed case number had grown to 2,463,357. In the US we have 778,176 diagnosed cases and 41,575 deaths. In Georgia we are close to 19,000 diagnosed cases and 733 have died.
     
    The Federal Government has now published Guidelines for Opening Up America, for individual States to follow. Each State will develop its own plan based upon these guidelines.
     
    Gov. Brian Kemp held a news conference earlier this afternoon where he addressed plans for a gradual opening of some sectors of the State economy--albeit with enhanced health and safety guidelines and restrictions, details which will be released by the State later this week.
    • Gov. Kemp said gyms, bowling alleys, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and other similar businesses can reopen statewide on Friday--under guidelines to be released later this week.
    • Some restaurants and theaters will be able to reopen as early as Monday April 27 next week with strict social distancing and other guidelines to be published.
    • Gov. Kemp said he will let the statewide shelter-in-place order expire on April 30. The elderly and medically fragile patients have to shelter-in-place until May 13.
    • The order for public schools to remain closed for the rest of the semester remains.
     
    Meanwhile the Mayor of Atlanta’s Stay At Home Order remains in force within the City of Atlanta.  The Mayor has now convened an Advisory Committee to advise the Mayor on the reopening of Atlanta.  “Reopening the city must be executed in a cautious manner that is best suited for Atlanta,” said Mayor Bottoms. “The Advisory Council will provide the necessary input and buy-in from Atlanta stakeholders to outline a safe and thoughtful framework to get our economy back on track without endangering public health.”  The Committee is to report back to the Mayor no later than May 15.
     
    We have also received questions as to the safety of travel within the United States.  The CDC’s guidelines and advice for travel within the United States can be found here. Their travel recommendations by country can be found here. The current list of travellers prohibited from entry into the United States can be found here.
     
    Please remember this is an evolving situation and, at time of writing, we do not know how travel restrictions and advisories here in the United States and in other countries will change in the weeks and months to come.
     
    We will continue to monitor the evolving situation in Atlanta, Georgia, the USA and internationally and keep you updated as part of our regular communication protocol.
     
    School Closure Update
    Our internal Task Force met on Friday and after reviewing the latest information, made the decision to continue Virtual Learning and not to re-open our physical campus for the remainder of the current academic year. At time of writing we are planning to reopen our campus for our students for the start of school in August.
     
    We know that our students are missing their friends and the rhythm and routine of physically coming to school on campus.  We know this is also tough on all our families--especially those who have to juggle working from home and younger children.  Know that we place the health and well being of our students, employees, families and wider community at the forefront of our decision making.
     
    We are especially focused on the implications of this decision for our Seniors who will miss so many of the events and rituals of their final few weeks as high school students. We have teams working with them on alternative dates for Prom and have determined Graduation will take place on Friday, August 14, as long as it is safe to do so.  Senior Day, April 23rd, and Honors Assembly, Thursday May 28th, will take place as virtual events.
     
    Our task force is now planning for the provisional opening of summer camps and the complete reopening of our physical campus in August. We are developing contingency plans for several eventualities, given the evolving COVID-19 situation in Atlanta and Georgia.  We will share more details on this planning in future updates. At time of writing, we are planning scenarios that have us welcoming all our students back to campus as scheduled in August. In this planning we are reviewing enhancements of the health and safety protocols that were implemented in March and adding others, in light of the most recent guidance from the State and the CDC, to keep the safety and well-being of our students, employees and community as the priority.
     
    Virtual Learning@AIS
    Thank you so much to all our parents and students who have written in to their teachers, principals, heads of school, counselors, coaches (and even to me) to thank them for the work they are all doing to keep learning alive and well at AIS.  This means such a lot to the people who are working so hard for our students.

    Our secondary schedule 3.0 successfully launched today after two weeks of design and preparation.  Mr. Kevin Onabiyi and our secondary leadership team will be soliciting feedback on version 3.0 in due course.

    In primary school Mme. Camille DuAime asked our families to complete the 2nd primary feedback survey by Friday April 24th so we can continue to evolve and improve the virtual learning experience for our primary school students.
    And in other virtual learning news…..
     
    From Jutta Martinez, our Grade 6 Head of Year
     
    “I just want to share how I am bursting at the seams with pride and joy about my grade 6! These kids have been amazing!! They collected over 150 merits in the 4 weeks of virtual learning!
    More importantly, the students have found and shared opportunities to remain connected over common interests, and they have been inclusive by inviting everybody to join. Today we had presentations by 4 groups of kids, and more are coming forward with ideas. They are an active, engaged group. I am truly grateful for this spark of joy and positivity they generated!”
     
    And some news from Grade 4
    Grade 4 student Ashton Grakoui took his writing assignment from the point of view of an American Revolutionary War soldier in a creative direction.  
     
    We are seeing hopeful signs that some of the restrictions on our daily lives may begin to slowly ease. However we must take great care to move slowly and work to keep our families, friends and neighbors safe. Dr.Carlos del Rio, an epidemiologist at Emory, reminds us that a virus peak can be like scaling Mt. Everest, there is danger in both going up and coming down.
     
    I would like to close today with examples of creative responses to our current situation. Here is  Graffiti Art from around the world inspired by the COVID-19 Outbreak.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • April 16th, 2020

    Dear Parents, 
     
    At 3:30 cases of COVID19 have reached 2,127,873 world-wide. Here in the US, the number was  653,825, with 30,998 deaths. There are 15,454 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia and 584 deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
     
    As we see the latest figure from the US Labor Department today, reflecting last week’s initial unemployment claims, bringing the four week total to almost 22 million, we realize that it will take time for our economy, and many others around the world, to recover from being abruptly shut-down.
     
    New schedule in Secondary
    The Secondary School team has worked hard over the last few days to finalize the details and expectations for the Virtual Learning schedule 3.0, which launches Monday April 20th. The schedule adjustments will provide a sustainable model that meets and balances the academic and social-emotional needs and well-being of our students. Secondary School will host an online parent information session on Wednesday, 22nd of April from 5pm-6pm to answer any questions you may have and to get initial feedback.

    School Reopening versus School Closure
    Our task force will meet tomorrow (Friday) and again on Monday April 20th.  It is our intention to update the community on Monday with our decision on school reopening on Monday May 4, or remaining closed to students for an extended period beyond that, possibly through to the end of the current school year. We continue to examine scenarios that would allow us to reopen the campus to employees and to students.  We are also examining scenarios for summer programs and summer camps and will communicate our thinking and planning here in future updates.
     
    August 2020
    We will be asking all members of our AIS community who travel outside the US during the Summer Break, to be in the US and self-monitoring for 14 days prior to the start of school on Tuesday August 18.
     
    Virtual Spring Benefit
    Together we cultivate a spirited sense of hope in human potential.  This has never been more true than in times of stress and crisis. We are in such times.  Our unique and wonderful community is our greatest strength and our school is committed to keeping this community together through these tough times. The way we learn has changed, the way we work, the way we play, the way we socialize, the way we live--this has all changed in such a short space of time.  We know families have lost loved ones, we know families are dealing with emotional and financial stress. We are already seeing an increased demand for need based financial aid--often just a helping hand is all that is needed to keep our community together.
     
    Our Stand and Pledge in our Spring Benefit is just such a helping hand.  In fact, the focus, for our Spring Benefit--the first ever Virtual Spring Benefit: Venture to Australia will be need based financial aid to keep our wonderful AIS Community together.  So many AIS families and friends have already stepped up this year to give holiday homes, experiences, cars, wonderful gifts and prizes for our live and silent auctions. All to help keep our community together.  They have our thanks. You all will soon be receiving information on what’s on offer! We cannot be physically together to raise those bidding numbers for need based financial aid, but we can do so virtually. It will be a different kind of celebration--one where the AIS community truly does come together to cultivate that spirited sense of hope in human potential. Join us.
     
    I want to ask everyone as we move into our second month of sheltering in place to remember the importance of self-care, and that we should all be ready to ask for help if things feel overwhelming. Here is information from our school nurse, Tiffany Holland, about Georgia’s  COVID-19 Emotional Help Line.
     
    I wanted to end with an incredible story.  One that inspires hope, inspiration and a call to action.  Captain Tom Moore has just completed the 100th lap of his garden in a sponsored walk to raise funds for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.  100 laps of a garden does not sound like much. Captain Moore, a World War II Veteran, walks with the aid of a walking frame. He is 99 and he wanted to complete his 100th lap before his 100th birthday.  He did it. His initial goal was to raise £1,000. He has now raised over £15,000,000 and counting. This is a wonderful story to watch together as a family--the second video clip in the article shares the complete story.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • April 13th, 2020

    Dear Parents, 
     
    Globally we are closing in on 2 million reported cases of COVID 19, with 1,911,407 at 5:00 PM. 572,587 cases have been reported in the US where 23,078 have died. Newly confirmed cases  have pushed Georgia’s number of infections past 13,000, as deaths near 500.
     
    I hope everyone came through last night’s storms with no damage and that you were not one of the 50,000 that were left without electricity. 
     
    As the federal government and governors across many states begin to consider what reopening businesses and schools will look like,  Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said today that he expected the reopening to play out “community by community, county by county,” but that the U.S. would first need to “substantially augment our public health capacity to do early case identification, isolation and contact tracing.”
     
    Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, quoted Winston Churchill last week: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” 
     
    The task force has not yet made any decisions regarding changing our provisional reopening date of Monday, May 4. We are developing scenarios for multiple possible reopening dates and I have consulted with many of my fellow school heads here in Atlanta and in cities around the world who are in different places along the curve. Again, we will communicate any changes to you as soon as we have made that decision.
     
    As has been my habit, I want to share with you some interesting, sometimes amusing, and helpful perspectives as I think about our community’s adjustment to this time of uncertainty and rapid change.
     
    I came across this great story onBBC News about a young man who trained as a doctor, left the profession, then came back to help during the crisis.  
     
    Our head of Counseling, Lanie Cox, shared this with me from Rosalind Wiseman. Rosalind, who has worked closely with AAIE and our global community as co-founder of Cultures of Dignity, was a featured author in Thursday’s New York Times. Her article is at once timely and practical. Rosalind writes, “When you have reached the moment when things run off the rails, and you’re not sure how to get back on track, it’s time for a family meeting. Don’t wait until you’re so angry that you blow up. If you feel like you need to have a meeting, that’s a sign that you should have one. But sometimes the same dynamics that cause conflict can actually derail the meeting itself. You need a strategy.”  Full article here.
     
    Our last day of physical school was one month ago, March 13. I know we all miss being able to be together as a community. I feel sharply the lack of being able to easily sit and talk with colleagues and friends. I miss working in a school full of energy and ideas, the thousand little moments of community we share with each other. As the HBR article I shared earlier tells us, I grieve the loss of it. 
     
    Lori Gottlieb a therapist in New York tells us, “Right now, in addition to the tragic losses of life and health and jobs are the losses experienced by people of all ages: missed graduations and proms, canceled sports seasons and performances, postponed weddings and vacations, separation from family and friends when we need them most. We have also lost the predictability that we take for granted in daily life: that there will be eggs and toilet paper on supermarket shelves, that we can safely touch a door knob with our bare hands, that we can get a haircut and our teeth cleaned or spend a Saturday afternoon at the movies.” 
     
    In moments of sadness I am reminded that we experience loss because of our ability to connect and form attachments. 
     
     “No one makes it through life without experiencing grief; it is the heart-wrenching flip-side of all that makes life worth living. Love.”  Dr. Susan David, author of Emotional Agility
     
    All the best,
     
    Kevin
  • April 9th, 2020

    Dear Parents, 
     
    As of today at 3:30pm, Johns Hopkins listed the number of cases in the USA at 452,582. Cases in Georgia had risen to 10,850 with the state’s number of coronavirus-related deaths now at 412. 1,276 of those cases are in Fulton County.
     
    On a more positive note, people all over the world have been coming together to celebrate and thank our health care professionals, to share stories of people helping those in need, of sharing life and love even in the face of social distancing and the restrictions imposed on so many by the COVID-19 outbreak. John Krasinski has started a YouTube Channel Some Good News to share examples of good news stories from across the US and from around the world. There are many more examples out there which I encourage us all to share widely.
     
    Conversations about gradual and planned easing of restrictions in some cities, regions and  countries, including the US are underway, although most agree we have many more weeks of restrictions to go.More research and scientific guidance is needed before any easing of restrictions begins. Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, stated in an interview on the BBC earlier today that the national lockdown, imposed on 9 March, could only be eased gradually. He went on to state, "We need to pick sectors that can restart their activity. If scientists confirm it, we might begin to relax some measures already by the end of this month."
     
    At time of writing we will maintain our provisional reopening date of Monday, May 4.  Our task force will meet again next week to review this date and we will communicate any changes to you as soon as we have made that decision.
     
    In the McKinsey & Company March 30th update for the business community, there is a section by Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal entitled, Beyond Coronavirus: The path to the next normal in which the authors share a “call to action across five stages, leading from the crisis of today to the next normal that will emerge after the battle against coronavirus has been won: Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform.”  There is much agreement that the world after COVID-19 will be different from the world before COVID-19.  
     
    AIS is actively participating in such conversations with hundreds of schools across the South East and many hundreds more internationally.  We are learning so much about learning in a virtual environment--what works and what we can bring back into our physical campus and classrooms once restrictions have been eased in Atlanta.
     
    Virtual School
     
    Our virtual learning is designed to get at the core concepts, skills and knowledge across our IB Continuum from 3K through to Grade 12.  As we continue to evolve this experience based upon student, teacher and parent feedback--we will continue to emphasize student inquiry, critical thinking and problem solving--hallmarks of an IB education.  This will, of course, look somewhat different depending upon the age of our students!
     
    Fostering flexible learners who are able to support each other while taking charge of their own learning is what our school is all about. I want to give you a quick look at what some of our students and teachers have been up to. 
     
    There have been many examples in Secondary of students consolidating their learning by partnering with younger students. Mark's Wisniewski's  Grade 12 students have been investigating the wider concept of intersectionality throughout their studies of Civil Rights in America, Apartheid in South Africa, the Cold War, and the Authoritarian States. They independently facilitated conversations about race, injustice and activism with Tripti's Kumars' Grade 8 students, who are currently reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
    Here is a link to a video about motion by a 10th-grader, Capuccine Faessler who created it for 6th-grade students. 
    In Primary Science we have a nature lesson from first grade teacher Ms. Haike in German and English. And for a look at how our teachers in Primary are organizing class information to be more accessible to students and parents, here are the class pages from second grade English. 

    Assessment in the virtual learning environment is primarily formative. Teachers will give students feedback through 1:1 meetings, small group discussions and through comments on some of their uploaded work.  Some summative assessments will be tasks rather than tests but others may use specialized platforms to ensure test validity, depending upon the student’s age. Students will be expected to complete these tests independently in a quiet space. In some cases, students will carry out a complex task which requires them to apply the recent multi-disciplinary learning and keep a process journal (written or audio/video) to document the thinking and effort behind the task, or upload a presentation, or performance. No standardized tests (MAP, ERB/WRAP, SOPA/ELLOPA, SAT, ACT etc.) will be given during the virtual learning period. The May IB Diploma Examinations have also been cancelled. 
     
    Teachers will continue to design learning experiences that are: engaging, inquiry-based, collaborative, project and performance based and, where feasible, also have a real world connection. The final report card will be a summary of the progress from the beginning of the year to the end as it would have been had we been in session on our campus.
     
    Yes, we are an IB continuum school--one that is deeply international, intercultural and multilingual. We also passionately believe that our students will be able to shape their world for the better and have the courage and the convictions to do so. The mission and core values of Atlanta International School are not dependent on buildings. We are working to ensure what we believe to be true comes across every day.
     
    It was wonderful for me to join our Parent Organization (PO) Council virtual meeting this morning. It was great to see everyone and I was reminded of something we all know. Our incredible multi-cultural community is unique and we are our own greatest strength.  I know our PO is working hard to maintain connections and build community virtually across the school--for our families, teachers and students. They have my sincere thanks and appreciation for their work on our behalf.
     
    As we head into the long weekend, often referred to as Spring Break II, we wanted to share some ideas and activities for Virtual Spring Break--activities you can do and virtual expeditions you can take as a family together. Please do take some time off as a family this long weekend.
    Below you will find some parent feedback that I have received re: virtual learning. I want to let you know how much I appreciate the constructively critical comments and the supportive words as we continue to work to refine how we learn, teach and live in this current reality.
     
     All my best,
    Kevin

    Excerpts from Parent Feedback Emails
    I have complete confidence in you and your staff to get our children through this with grace and without dent to their academic career.
     
    I realize there may be some glitches and hiccups going forward, as there always are when doing something new, but so far I’ve been extremely impressed and felt I needed to let you know. Please feel free to share my email with whomever you feel should see it. 
     
    Today’s experience was exemplary of the highest standards of virtual learning.
     
    Dear grade 11th teachers,
    We really would like to THANK YOU all for the great support you are giving to all the AIS students to end successfully this year.
     
    This is really a great example of everyone doing what needs to be done and responding to what is a less than optimal time in history. Thank you for supporting our kids and our staff. Feel free to share this.
     
    THANK YOU ALL for your tireless efforts and sleepless nights to pull all of this off! It does not go without notice. Again, we know MANY people were involved in this initiative so please do share this with the appropriate people!
     
    I think AIS is one of the few pockets of sanity right now, and we are grateful for that.
     
    As parents, it provides great reassurance to see the level of planning and preparation the school is going through to address this unthinkable situation.
     
    AIS has gone above and beyond during this unknown time. This means so much to our family. 
     
    I just want to say how unbelievably impressed we are with the launch of virtual schooling.  For a mostly untested solution, it is going so well and we are really thankful to have AIS in our lives, especially at this trying time.
     
    None of us in our wildest dreams could have predicted the scenario we all find ourselves in, but AIS has risen to the occasion and succeeded. The extra hours ALL of you have put in is commendable and GREATLY appreciated so our children can continue to have an education.
     
    Our teachers are so inspiring and we are so grateful for them. We appreciate so much that even though they have their own anxieties about the current times, their kids out of school, making sure that they have everything to get through the social distancing times, they manage to calmly and confidently lead our students down the path of knowledge and curiosity.
  • April 6th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    As of today at noon, the number of cases in Georgia had risen to 7,314 with the number of coronavirus-related deaths now at 229. 1,000 of those cases are in Fulton County.  Officials say 1,332 patients are hospitalized in the state due to the virus. Gov. Brian Kemp signed a shelter-in-place order that went into effect at 6 p.m. Friday, April 3 and continues until April 13. Here is the information from the Governor’s order in an easy-to-understand FAQ format.
     
    In hopeful news, The New York Times reports today that as the number of new deaths held relatively steady in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo expressed cautious optimism that the state’s sharply rising curve of infections and deaths might be starting to level off.  Italy and Spain are also showing early signs of declines in the numbers of new infections and the numbers of deaths.
     
    As we move into week four of having our physical campus closed we want to let you know that we have extended the pay for our hourly employees through May 4. 
     
    May 4th remains the provisional date for the reopening of our campus.  Our task force re-evaluates this decision weekly based upon the evolving situation, and we will inform the community of any change as and when the decision is taken.
     
    In the event we do have to close through the end of the school year we are beginning contingency planning for the celebrations that are so important to our community that take place in the last few weeks of school. We are also mapping out potential impacts on our summer camps and summer programming should the situation continue through June into the summer.  We will continue to share our planning with you in future updates.
     
    The Business Office is working through any and all refunds owed to families. AIS remains committed to refunding as much as possible, and as soon as possible to our families to alleviate financial burden. 
    • Field trips: For cancelled field trips, the Business Office is reaching out to providers to recover the largest possible amount of expenses paid and they will be in touch with families involved for each trip once they have completed their process. 
    • After school programs (such Kaleidoscope, extra-curricular classes and athletic activities): The Business Office will process all refunds at once as soon as there is a definitive return date (or not) for the academic year. If there is an opportunity to resume classes, we will continue after school programs through the remainder of the year and refund the number of classes that didn't meet.
    • Meal plans: the Business Office will process refunds for all unused meal days for families enrolled in the yearly meal plan program. A follow up communication will be sent detailing calculations and processing timeframe for your refund as soon as a final number of days of school closure can be accurately determined.
    Please bear with us as we work through this across the myriad of in-school, after-school and out-of-school programs, services, events and activities that have now been cancelled or postponed.
     
    For those of you in the AIS community that are small business owners, the Law School at Berkeley, where AIS alum Victoria Plaut (AIS Class of ‘92, our first Graduating Class of Seniors) is on the faculty has provided a Free Resource for Small Businesses to help navigate the CARES legislation.
     
    We realize the next few days and weeks will be stressful for all of us as cases of the disease peak in some locations and continue to rise in others. While we can’t control the situation causing us such stress, we can continue to seek some control over our reaction to it. This article reminds us of the techniques used by soldiers in the Special Forces and others whose jobs require an acceptance of a stressful environment, and that research shows that our mind-set about stress can improve how we cope.
     
    And speaking of coping, allow me, as a Brit, to share a lovely message that was broadcast yesterday by the Queen. Regardless of your feelings about monarchies, this was a moment of leadership that has the power to benefit us all.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • April 2nd, 2020

     
    Dear Parents, 
     
    Global diagnosed infections surpassed the 1,000,000 milestone earlier this afternoon as measured by the Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.  At 3:30pm today, Johns Hopkins reported that the US had 234,462 and Fulton County, GA had 712.  The number of fatalities continues to rise with US Government officials currently predicting up to 240,000 US deaths due to COVID-19.  Travel restrictions are now a fact of life across much of the world. It is not known how long these will remain in place and large summer events and activities are being deferred and cancelled in the United States and in many parts of the world.
     
    The economic impact is becoming more quantifiable. More than 6.6 million people filed jobless claims in the United States in the week ending March 28.  This is an all-time record increase, and the number of jobless claims is still expected to rise. The Atlanta Business Chronicle online afternoon headlines of today contain a report that Georgia's unemployment claims have now hit the highest ever, surpassing the 2008-2009 recession. The US and much of the rest of the world is in recession.  Governments, companies, not-for-profit organizations, independent and international schools in the US and around the world are engaged in robust contingency planning across a wide range of potential scenarios.  AIS is no exception to this.
     
    Board leadership, myself and members of our leadership team are working hard to develop scenarios and contingency plans that will allow our school and community to successfully navigate this period of economic uncertainty in the weeks, months and possibly years to come.  We will share more details of our planning with the community in future updates.
     
    I want to point out Governor Kemp’s Executive Orders with particular reference to the order of April 1 (yesterday) closing public elementary and secondary schools through the end of the 2019-2020 school year to stop the spread of COVID-19.  Whilst this order applies to public schools and not private schools, our task force will take this order under consideration in our meeting Friday, and in our meetings next week. We will communicate any change in our provisional reopening date of Monday May 4 with you as soon as a decision is made.
     
    Speaking of calendars and dates, I want to remind everyone that Friday April 10 is Spring Break Two and there will be no virtual school.
     
    Virtual Learning @ AIS
     
    The ongoing work of creating and sustaining the best virtual learning experience for our students progresses this week as we continue to ask for feedback from our parents, students and teachers. Insights gained from these key stakeholder groups are vitally important to the continued improvement of these programs.
     
    As we zoom towards a month in virtual school, I wanted to share some statistics with you. As of this morning the AIS Zoom account hosted 4,210 separate meetings that took place over
    1,159,419 minutes and included 65,130 participants.  Wow.
     
    Here’s a look at the change in our Google Classroom use over the school year:
     
    And our Google Meets have increased an amazing 26,706% in the last month.
     
    To these numbers I want to add a word of thanks to our IT Team, who have responded to almost 500 help desk requests. Thank you IT!
     
    As always I want to encourage us all to take care of ourselves and take care of each other. Below I'd like to share a couple of links about being at home with your students, one with some good perspective on the experience, and the second a glimpse of life at home that I think many of our ELC parents will recognize.
     
    In closing, I wanted to share a lovely story of supporting health care workers from the BBC, and then a website where you can both help our local restaurants and send meals to staff in local hospitals. This moment finds us physically apart, but is giving us opportunities to connect in new ways.
     
    My best regards as always,
     
     
    Kevin
     
  • March 30th, 2020

     
    Dear Parents,
     
    The rate of growth in COVID-19 cases in U.S. cities such as New York, New Orleans and Detroit has led the federal government to extend social distancing guidelines until the end of April.  While Georgia has not yet seen the number of cases as some other states, cases in Georgia and Fulton County continue to increase, however given the limited testing in Georgia, we do not have an accurate idea of how many cases there actually are in the population. AJC Dashboard
     
    Provisional Re-Opening Date moved to Monday, May 4
    Our Task Force, at our meeting today, made the decision to continue Virtual School through to Friday, May 1 with the earliest provisional reopening date for our campus being Monday, May 4. Once again--this is a provisional date and our Task Force will be reviewing the situation at least twice weekly.  We commit to informing you of any changes to this date no later than Monday, April 27.
     
    Community Updates
    These will continue from me every Monday and Thursday. Given that we are now past the 14 days of self-monitoring for students who last attended AIS on Friday, March 13, we will only be communicating in a general sense re: the spread of COVID-19 in Atlanta and Georgia based upon data from local authorities.  We will no longer be notifying specific grade levels of a case of COVID-19 reported in an AIS family in that grade level, for example.
     
    The IB DP and our Seniors
    The IB has now released some FAQs with more specific implication of their decision to cancel the May 2020 IB Diploma Examinations world wide.  The FAQs can be found here. Our IB Diploma Coordinator, Adam Lapish and our College Counselors led by Lori Jones have been in touch with our Seniors as a class and with individuals as needed.
     
    Support for our Community
    The Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS), is one of the regional agencies that accredit AIS.  In addition to the head of school forums mentioned in my update of Friday, they have also developed significant resources for their member schools and communities.  I’d like to draw your attention to a Parenting In A Time of Crisis webinar scheduled for April 2nd. Please click on the link to register for this webinar if interested.
     
    As we continue to encourage members of our community to become more social virtually, perhaps it is time to change the words we use here to physical distancing, as opposed to social distancing.
     
    We are all striving to process this moment in our lives and what it means for us and our families. For many of us this is about processing grief. I shared the HBR article last week, and this week I want to share below some resources put together by our counseling team.
     
    We will be in virtual learning, building virtual connections, collaboration and communication through work, with families and friends for many weeks to come. We are physically distancing to keep ourselves and others safe. We are all reconfiguring how we connect with each other. Let us continue to share with each other what works for each of us in this new world.
     
    All my best,
     
    Kevin
  • March 26th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    We are reaching out on a daily basis to other independent schools in Atlanta, the Southeast and around the world. Last evening I spent a couple of hours in a Zoominar (is that a new word?) with 100+ fellow independent school heads across the South East. This morning I spent another couple of hours on a Zoominar with 90+ international school heads from every continent on earth with the exception of Antarctica.
     
    As restrictions requiring social distancing continue, we find our experience beginning to follow in the footsteps of those schools in Asia and Europe who closed their schools ahead of us. It is a great help to discuss common concerns such as the IB Exam cancellation, how do we give our Seniors a warm and engaging experience in their last year, and the challenges of finding the right balance between synchronous, asynchronous, screen time and down time within virtual learning.
     
    AIS has complied with the Executive Order from Mayor Bottoms and moved to our campus being closed to all except essential employees only. Thus most of us are now working from home. That includes our teachers, but also our operational departments such as Admissions, the Business Office and Development.
     
    Virtual Learning
    Virtual Learning continues in Primary and Secondary.  I want to thank our teachers, academic leadership, students and families for engaging with us in this process. We, like all good students trying something new for the first time, are learning a great deal about ourselves as learners.  Some things work well for us, some do not. That is normal. Please remember this is an iterative process--it is evolving. We are actively seeking and encouraging feedback from our students, teachers and families. This is being done both formally through surveys sent out by our Heads of School in Primary and Secondary, and informally through the many conversations our students and teachers are having in our virtual environments.  Please do continue to share your feedback with our Principals and Heads of School in the surveys and by direct email if you have specific school-wide points or questions. Remember your child’s teachers are always the best people to reach out to for subject or class specific questions.  
     
    We welcome this feedback in the spirit of continuous improvement.  We intend for the Virtual Learning Experience @ AIS to be a dynamic and evolving process. We have learned from many other international schools that one size fits all does not work. We have also learned that what you started out with at the beginning of this journey (for some--three months ago now) is not what it looks like at the end.
     
    The COVID-19 AIS Response Task Force
    I want to share some information about the work of our internal task force. Below are the standing intent and desired outcomes from our last meeting on Monday, March 23rd.  
     
    Standing Intent: To maintain alignment with one another across our complex and interdependent work as a Task Force leading the school through a potential Covid-19 Pandemic
     
    Desired Outcomes (everything we need in order to achieve our intent):
     
    • Align on communication key points/ questions to answer for next update
    • Review essential personnel lists (when curfew/ school mandated closure imposed)
    • Review FAQs e.g. COVID-19 case in the AIS community
    • Update on cancellation of IBDP Examinations--next steps for AIS
    • Clear next steps, next meeting and topics/ questions/ issues to inform future meetings
     
    The task force meets twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays at a minimum, and more frequently as needed.  It is chaired by me, as Head of School, and includes the Senior Leadership Team of AIS, key Directors from across the school’s operational departments, plus outside experts as needed who are invited to meetings (virtually these days!) as both consultants and advisors.
     
    The task force reviews the current situation, using the most reliable data and information from across our many sources. It also projects forward at each meeting--what are we expecting short, medium, longer term? It will be this task force that ultimately makes the recommendation to me regarding the duration of our school closure. Currently we are projected to re-open on Monday, April 6. We had previously committed to letting our community know whether that date still stood, or we would delay re-opening by a specified time period, no later than Thursday April 2nd. 
     
    We will move that decision date forward to Monday, March 30.  Thus, we will make this question a focus for our task force meetings on Friday March 27 and again on Monday March 30. I hope, therefore, to be able to communicate our decision to you all in our next update on Monday.
     
    Reliability of Internet, Google and Zoom
    Around 11:30am today, Google experienced some issues and many people in our community could not access Google or any GSuite Apps for a brief period of time. This was Google today, but it may be an internet provider tomorrow and Zoom the day after.
     
    During this time, when the world is relying on these types of services, there may be instances when their infrastructure becomes overwhelmed and their applications become inaccessible--usually only for short periods of time in some areas.
     
    Please be patient and wait for the services to come back online. The internet service providers and associated platform providers have accomplished a herculean task that is allowing almost an entire nation and millions of school children to work virtually. They are committed to fixing any “glitches” and “outages” as quickly as humanly possible.  
     
    So if this happens again, and it is likely, please make good use of your “glitch” time.  Grab a cup of coffee or tea, or juice, drink water, work on your offline work, or take a break to stretch and get some sunshine.  Don’t stress about it. The service will come back. 
     
    Helpful Tips from The CDC
    On March 19, CDC updated its technical guidance and consumer information about cleaning and disinfecting your home when someone is sick.
     
    Taking Care of Ourselves, Our Families, Our Community
    I did not know that this underlying feeling of “surreal”, not-quite-being-fully-present-to-the-here-and-now, in the real world, having a distorted sense of time and a general sense of “oddness” were symptomatic of grief until I read this excellent HBR article. It is totally OK to talk about what we are all feeling, with our families, our children, with colleagues and friends. We are living through a unique time in our lives.  Encouraging our children to talk about this is a good thing. Our team of counselors stand ready to help and assist any one of our AIS students at any time. They have also put a superb set of resources together for families and for our students. You can find these and many more useful links on your COVID-19 Update Tile on Blackbaud.
     
    Please use these days as opportunities to reconnect with friends here and around the world.  Set up virtual movie nights, quiz nights, karaoke and dinner parties. Encourage your children to do the same. Take walks. Exercise. Work out in the way that works best for you and your family to stay healthy, safe and sane in these turbulent times.  Share what works for you with others and with me. We can build a resource bank for our AIS virtual community.
     
    Useful Sources To Get Us Started:
     
     
     
     
     
    Add yours!
     
    My Best,
     
    Kevin
     
     
  • March 23rd, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    As other cities, regions and countries embark on ever more stringent rules and guidelines for social distancing we have just received stricter guidance from Governor Kemp, linked here
     
    We have assumed that over time there will be reports of members of our community who are diagnosed with the virus.  Our first thought and care will always be with the families who are directly impacted with a COVID-19 related diagnosis or illness within their own family.  They are first and foremost in our thoughts and support.  
     
    Our immediate next concern is to be socially responsible and communicate as openly,  transparently, and ethically as we can to ensure our community is prepared and aware of the best advice and guidance in such cases.
     
    As we receive information related to the spread of COVID-19 within our AIS community--we commit to sharing what we know.  We will continue to share the facts, up to date information, as well as current thinking around best practices. We also commit to maintaining the privacy of members of our AIS community throughout this process.
     
    Expect updates from the Heads of School (Primary and Secondary) or from my office in our twice-weekly communication in the days and weeks to come.
     
    We have been made aware of two cases in the last 24 hrs., and we want to demonstrate our commitment to open communication, with the caveats of ethical considerations, rights to privacy, being as open as we can be etc., outlined in more detail above.
     
    We received notification late Sunday that a parent in Primary had tested positive for COVID-19. The two children's last day attending AIS was Thursday March 12.  The family has been socially distancing since that date. The two children have displayed no symptoms of COVID-19 to date. The family is continuing with their self-isolation.  We have notified the parents of the students in the two grade levels directly, and also notified their teachers. We have shared this information with our Primary School families and employees.
     
    Self-monitoring is the current guidance if you have no symptoms and a possible history of exposure to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in the last 14 days. 
     
    In this particular case, given the last day for the two students on campus was Thursday March 12, then self-monitoring should remain in effect through to Thursday March 26.
     
    A second example demonstrates why we would take a different approach.  We were informed a few hours ago of a family that left AIS on February 28 (for Spring break) and their children did not return to AIS after Spring Break.  One parent from this family has since tested positive for COVID-19. Given that the families' absence from AIS is beyond the 14 day self-monitoring period recommended by health providers, we do not have any concerns in this case, or cases with similar timing, regarding possible COVID-19 transmission at AIS.
     
    In all cases we recommend families practice good hygiene, enforce social distancing, regular and proper hand washing--we all know the drill by heart now.  We also recommend that you reach out to your medical provider directly with any and all questions specific to your unique family situation.  
     
    Please do move to self-isolation and reach out to your medical provider should you or anyone in your immediate family, or who lives with you, begin to show 'flu like symptoms.
     
    IB Exams Cancelled
    The International Baccalaureate today announced that the May 2020 IB Examinations have been cancelled.  This impacts close to 200,000 students around the world, including 102 AIS Seniors (AIS Class of ‘20).  Adam Lapish, our IB Diploma Coordinator communicated at length with our Seniors and their parents once we received this news from the IB. I share with you two key sections from the article:
     
    • Depending on what they registered for, the student will be awarded a Diploma or a Course Certificate which reflects their standard of work. This is based on student's coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes.
    • Full details and FAQs will be sent to schools by 27 March 2020 (CET)
     
    Some of our Seniors will have applied to universities outside the US, in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Spain. These universities only give offers of places conditional on the points they achieve in their IB exams.  In the UK, the government has already taken the decision to cancel school leaving examinations such as A-Levels. These universities are in the process of reviewing their responses, and we continue to receive communications from the universities assuring us that they are aware of this global situation and will be working to apply the appropriate amount of flexibility and consideration in the enrollment of prospective students.
     
    Some Seniors would want to apply their scores from the IB Diploma courses to gain college credit here in the US, for example.  How will this work? The answers to these questions and more are not known at this time and we await guidance from the IB and from colleges here in the US and overseas.  Our College Counselors have been and will continue their support for our Seniors.
     
    Our Seniors also must complete their coursework and any outstanding projects, assignments and assessments across their various subjects in order to complete the course credit requirements and earn an AIS High School Diploma. This is what they are busy with right now in their own Virtual Learning. I recognize that this is a tough, disappointing and uncertain time for our Class of ‘20 and my heart goes out to them.  Know that Mr. Onabiyi, Mr. Lapish, Mr. Smith, their College and School counselors, our Learning Support team and all their IB teachers are with our Seniors and their families during these times. I know our whole AIS community is with them too.
     
    Virtual Spring Benefit 
    As we courageously move into new modes of teaching and learning at AIS, we will also be creating a new and intentionally inclusive environment for our Spring Benefit. We will have the opportunity to invite everyone, current community members, alumni and alumni families, friends of AIS near and far to participate in our first ever Virtual Venture To Australia.  Yes, you heard it--the AIS signature event of the year is going virtual.....
     
    We will host our "virtual" Venture to Australia Spring Benefit on May 2.  This means, while we will all be in the comfort of our own homes this year, we will still have a chance to bid on silent and live auction items.  Additionally, we will have a special opportunity to hear from an alumnus who will kick-off our Stand & Pledge for need-based financial aid. An enormous thanks to the many volunteers for their hard work to date. Look for a digital invitation with more information about our “virtual” Venture to Australia Spring Benefit soon.  Don’t miss it!
     
    AIS Support for Hourly Workers
    We have received questions concerning our part-time and hourly paid colleagues, such as Kaleidoscope, music instructors and coaches, and contractors who work on our campus and are directly employed by our service providers such as Metz (Food Service), SecurAmerica (Security) and Ebenezer (Custodial). Know that AIS has commited, as have our main service providers, to ensure that these employees are paid through our provisional school reopening date of April 6.  Should the decision be made to extend the closure of our school to students (and we have committed to making this decision no later than April 2nd), we would review this decision at that time.
     
    As our days at home begin to hopefully develop more of a pattern and schedule, I want to encourage us all to not focus our online time only on work and school, but to reach out regularly and often to friends, neighbors and family. 
     
    In my (virtual) meeting with the AIS Parent Organization leadership this morning we were discussing ideas on ways to maintain and build the network of community that is such an important part of who we are here at AIS.
     
    Let’s get creative on ways to keep our important connections. How many of our unique community activities and celebrations can we take virtual?  We will have more thoughts in the coming days and we welcome your ideas and inputs too.
     
    Expect the next update on Thursday March 26 and, as always, reach out to me if you have questions and I can connect you with the best person to answer your question if I am unable to answer it myself.
     
    My best as always,
     
    Kevin
  • March 19th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    The City of Atlanta, in efforts to encourage social distancing and delay the spread of the virus,  has mandated that movie theaters, gyms, bowling alleys, arcades, bars and nightclubs that do not serve food and private social clubs must close entirely.  The Mayor’s Executive Order, signed today, also limits restaurants to a take-out service only.
     
    As our own efforts at AIS continue to limit the spread of the virus through social distancing, our faculty and students completed their second day of virtual learning this afternoon. I personally dropped into several Primary and Secondary classes and saw students excited to be re-engaging with their teachers and classmates. I witnessed our own three children engaging in their classes across Grades 4, 6 and 8.  We were able to work through any bumps and technical challenges and have received much positive feedback from the community.  
     
    Given that this is new for all of us, it is our intent to iterate and improve virtual learning for our students based on our experience to date, and the feedback from students and teachers as we go along. It is a dynamic environment, after all, and we do intend to make best use of this challenge and opportunity.
     
    This image shows you just a few examples of the teaching and learning that happened already, with students in the ELC in their morning greeting session, Secondary students doing a math test or participating in a scavenger hunt during a Theatre class or French students writing their journal of their first day of virtual learning. 
     
    As we move into the new routines of virtual learning I want to remind you of the resources we have  available to support you and your children during this time of heightened anxiety and the new normal of social distancing. Please reach out to your child’s counselor at any time should you have questions or concerns that they can help you with.  Our team is here to support your child and your family.

    We are also moving into Spring.  While the weather improves, the flowers bloom and trees begin to bud--pollen also begins to appear, and with it we enter allergy season for many.  This could cause some increased anxiety. How do you tell allergies from the ‘flu, or from COVID-19? We did find a useful resource to share here
     
    I mentioned in a previous email about the importance of attending to the mental and physical wellbeing of our children and ourselves. There are many recommendations to get outside to walk or cycle, keeping that new social distance (CDC recommends 6’ or 2m) between yourself and others.  I wanted to share a few lists if you are looking for a place to be outside Walks in Atlanta and Best places to hike.
     
    I also wanted to draw your attention to a story that was shared by the BBC on March 15.  Becky Wass, from Falmouth, Cornwall, designed a simple postcard aimed at helping people to look after their neighbors if their neighbors were self-isolating.  We have adapted Becky’s design for our own AIS community and shared i there.  You may have a neighbor in need and not know it.  "Because fear has spread so quickly, it's really important to try to spread kindness," Becky said.  Maybe we can spread some kindness as an AIS community.
     
    Remember, let us make sure we, our children and other family members, are washing hands properly, maintaining appropriate social distances and please continue to practice the good daily hygiene routines as per the CDC guidelines.
     
    I am very proud of the dedication of our faculty and staff who have been working so hard over the past few days and also deeply grateful to everyone in our community for their calm and focused response to this unprecedented situation. I and the Senior Leadership Team have appreciated the many messages of support from the community.  It is apparent to me that we are all in this together and that is very reassuring.
     
    Best regards,
    Kevin
     
  • March 16th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    As we continue to adjust our lives to this changing and uncertain situation with the COVID-19 virus, we at AIS are working hard on the preparation for opening Virtual Learning @AIS on Wednesday March 18.
     
    You have received links from Camille du Aime in Primary and Kevin Onayibi in Secondary giving you information for Wednesday.
     
    We anticipate a few challenges as our students and faculty get into the rhythm of a new mode of teaching and learning. Please go through your students’ virtual learning set up with them at home and make sure you and they are clear on the expectations that the school and you, as parents, have for them. Establishing these routines with them Wednesday, Thursday and Friday--as we work through logistics, set-up issues and questions etc. will be so important for their success.
     
    There has been much talk of social distancing and what exactly that is and means.  Johns Hopkins University has guidance on social distancing here, as does the CDC.  You will need to determine what works for your family, given each families’ unique set up, geographic location and child-care logistics.
     
    Also as a parent, I can see my own children feeling a little overwhelmed by the information they are seeing on the media. Please talk to them as much as you can these days, explain to them what they are listening to and offer them distractions, possibly playing outdoors with them, or engaging them in fun and different activities at home. If we adults are overwhelmed with the unprecedented situation we are all facing, children will be too, so let's support them, talk to them about the events unfolding so the news on TV and social media are not their main source of information. 
     
    We have added some resources at the bottom of this message, and will continue to add to the list through the next few weeks. This information will be available in google classroom for secondary and seesaw for primary. The counseling team will be in touch with all parents and students 3K-12 tomorrow on how students can access the counselors and additional information.
     
    And speaking to you as an adult caring for your children, I wanted to remind you that while we are avoiding public gatherings and public spaces, especially confined spaces, it is important to get outside while keeping a healthy distance from others, go for a walk or a hike. Your mental and physical well-being will be better for doing so.
     
     
    Best regards,
     
    Kevin
     
    Resources for talking to your children about COVID-19:
     
     
     
     
    How to Talk to Children About COVID 19 (video):https://www.facebook.com/CBS46/videos/2612167565727357/
     
  • March 12th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    Things continue to develop quickly with the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the responses to it. The WHO declared a Pandemic, there are now increased travel restrictions in place and this afternoon, Governor Kemp has advised schools to close for at least two weeks.
     
    We know this rapidly evolving situation has created tension and stress for many in our community. Despite the challenges of these uncertain times, we are committed to providing a high quality international education to our students and to protecting the health and well-being of our community. 
     
    We have carefully considered many options to keep our community safe and healthy.  We have consulted extensively with schools in the US and around the world. Today, in consultation with our Board Leadership, we are announcing a new plan and changes to our procedures. 
     
    Proactive Closing
    We will be proactively closing our physical campus to students from Monday March 16 and will be moving to virtual school on Wednesday March 18. We plan to deliver our curriculum remotely until Monday April 6. 
     
    We have no reported cases of the COVID-19 virus in our community. We have come to the same decision as 1200 other schools here and across the country, and more than 130 colleges who have decided to move to online classes to minimize the risk of spreading the deadly virus, including Emory, the entire University of North Carolina System, Duke, Vanderbilt, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and the University of Virginia.
     
    Our decision was driven first and foremost by the concern for the safety of the AIS community, but also by an effort to use social distancing to prevent the virus from reaching those with greater vulnerability in the Atlanta community. Social distancing refers to measures that are taken to increase the physical space between people to slow the spread of the virus. Examples include working from home, school closures and the postponement of events.
     
    In the Washington Post, Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Stanford University, has stated the importance of social distancing is in “The idea is that the sooner you stop that transmission chain, you are actually limiting an exponential growth.” “...and a matter of days can make a difference.” This opinion has been echoed in publications from the Wall Street Journal to the The Atlantic.
     
    We will continue to monitor the situation, always seeking to take the best course of action, and will communicate with you bi-weekly on Mondays and Thursdays, or more frequently as circumstances warrant.  We will advise the community no later than Thursday April 2nd if we need to extend the closure of the campus for our students.
     
    Friday, March 13 will be a regular school day for students, faculty and staff except for those faculty, staff and students who have traveled to any of the 29 new level 3 countries in the last 14 days. If your child has traveled to one of these countries please inform the school through this link and stay home as per the revised CDC Guidelines.
     
    Virtual Learning@AIS
    Monday March 16 and Tuesday March 17 there is no school for students, but teachers will be on campus planning and preparing for Virtual Learning@AIS.
     
    We will be sharing our website and plans for Virtual Learning @AIS with students and with parents on Friday (tomorrow) and also distributing the students’ own school-based devices to all students in Grade 1 through 5 to take home.
     
    Students in Grades 1 through 3 will bring their iPads home and students in Grades 4 and 5 will bring their MacBook Air devices home, as AIS is a one-to-one school for Grades 1 through 5.  
     
    The students are used to working with these devices and they already have the apps, software and set up that each grade level is used to working with.  The iPads all use standard iPhone chargers. Please use your own chargers at home if you have them. Should you need to borrow a charger from school--please complete this survey today: Borrow charger
     
    If there are any students in 3K, 4K or 5K who need to borrow an iPad from AIS--please do let Camille Du Aime, cduaime@aischool.org know as per her request from earlier this week.
     
    If students are absent from school tomorrow and thus unable to take their device home, please complete the device pickup survey. The IT Help Desk will have devices available for pick up Monday and Tuesday afternoon between 3:00pm and 6:00pm from the main entrance front desk (you will need to sign in with your ID as per usual, let security know why you are there and then go wash your hands!).
     
    Students in secondary school will, of course, be working with their own laptops.
     
    Virtual Learning@AIS for students will launch Wednesday March 18.  
     
    Given that our students and teachers have never engaged in Virtual Learning of this type or scale--know that it will take a few days for our students and teachers to get used to the system and begin to use it ever more effectively.  Please be patient with our students and teachers during this process. You can always request help and support by emailing ithelp@aischool.org 
     
    The AIS Campus will remain open for employees during the period of Virtual Learning @AIS.
     
    We have updated our travel guidance to employees and in alignment with our decisions regarding field trips announced on Tuesday March 10, we have cancelled all faculty & staff international and domestic professional development travel for the rest of the year.
     
    Campus events for more than 50 people will be cancelled.
     
    All sports events and practices will be cancelled.
     
    All co-curricular activities will be cancelled.
     
    We are committed to ensuring that all of our students, but especially our graduating seniors can meet their academic requirements.
     
    This will be a challenging period for our students, school and community.  Yet this is also a time to embrace the core values that make our school unique, as we all consider our decisions and actions, “within an ethical framework grounded in a spirited sense of hope in human potential.”
     
    As always, please reach out to me with your questions and concerns.
     
    Best regards,
     
    Kevin Glass
  • March 10th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    As you may know, Fulton County reported an employee diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus Monday and had an early release of students that afternoon. They will be closing all of their schools Tuesday to clean the affected schools and to make a decision about future closings.
     
    I wanted to share with you our work and planning to date given the news above and the dynamic situation we find ourselves in.
     
    We continue our enhanced cleaning protocols which include wiping down all tables every 30 minutes during lunch; sanitizing every classroom and the toys in the ELC every night with electrostatic sprayers; sanitizing with electrostatic sprayers all common areas, water fountains, etc.,daily. Restrooms are sanitized and scrubbed daily and we are asking everyone in the school to wash their hands when entering the school and to repeat this often during the day. We also depend on you, our parents, to keep your children home from school if they exhibit symptoms, have a fever higher than 99.4 degrees fahrenheit (37.4C), or appear to be sick or unwell.
     
    To follow-up on the email sent on Friday, March 6, I want to remind you to submit the google survey if you or ANY member of your household traveled to either of the Level 2 or Level 3 countries within the past few weeks. I also ask that if you are in need of, or will be electing to, self-quarantine your child for 14 days, please notify our Associate Director of Health Services, Tiffany Holland, at tholland@aischool.org  Your child’s respective school would then be able to work with you on remote learning for them during their extended absence.
     
    As events evolve, we are ever more determined in our monitoring and planning. We are in daily touch with the CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health, International Schools around the world, the Southern Association of Independent Schools as well as our peer schools here in Metro Atlanta. Our task force is finalizing the plan that will be implemented if AIS has to close.
     
    Students at Home
    We hope we will not need our plans for virtual school, but our students’ safety is paramount and we know we need to be ready. We would suggest all parents consider what plans you may need to make if your children are at home for one day, a few days, or multiple weeks.
     
    Immediate Dismissal or Next Day Closing
    If AIS needed to close on short notice we would activate our emergency communications protocol and would ask all parents to pick up their child within 3 hours of notification. For next day closings we would use both emergency communications and email to notify parents with all updates posted on the Parent Portal.
     
    Virtual School
    We have developed a plan for virtual school for Primary and Secondary School. We know our students will need a device and connectivity at home and primary parents should have received an email from Camille Du Aime asking about this on Monday. Please do reply directly to Camille should you need to borrow a school issued device for your child. No need to reply if you have your own devices. You will also be receiving communications in the next few days giving you additional information, links to our Virtual Learning Website with resources, ideas and suggestions on how you can support your children if we need to move to online learning.
     
    Faculty Virtual School Training Day, Monday March 16
    There will be no school for students on Monday March 16. In order to ensure our faculty is ready to deliver a quality virtual learning experience should the need arise to close school, we have combined the March and April half days into a full day of training for faculty on Monday March 16th. There will be no half days in March and April.  
     
    We recognize that this is late notice and inconvenient, we apologize for this. We have accelerated our timetable as a result of the most recent data on the spread of the coronavirus.  We wish to ensure that our teachers are ready and able to share blended learning experiences in a virtual setting with our students. It is our intent to design learning experiences that are age appropriate and meaningful for our learners.
     
    Kaleidoscope Monday
    In order to support our employees and families who need childcare on Monday March 16, Kaleidoscope will be available for the full day.  Registration details for enrolling your child/ children in Kaleidoscope will be shared by Kaleidoscope in a subsequent email.
     
    Field Trips
    Given the evolving situation the decision has been made to cancel all remaining international student trips as well as those traveling to other US cities for the remainder of the school year.
     
    Parents with children planning to travel on each of the Grade 5 Journey Abroad trips will be receiving additional details from Camille Du Aime later today.
     
    Similarly, for Secondary Trips, the faculty member coordinating each trip will be reaching out to the families whose students are registered for their particular trip.
     
    We appreciate your patience as we work with the various trip organizers, tour companies, airlines and vendors to minimize the financial impact of these cancellations.
     
    On-Campus Events
    We have reviewed all on-campus events for the month of March and made decisions as to which events will carry on as normal, which will be modified, postponed or cancelled. There are some events that we will be able to convert to a virtual event. We have and will continue to communicate with the organizers and attendees of each event that requires some form of modification separately.
     
    Communications
    We recognize that reliable, fact-based communication is important at times such as this.  Our COVID-19 Task Force agreed at their meeting Monday that we would send updates out twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays for the duration of the outbreak. Please forgive us for sending this one on Tuesday! We would, of course, communicate more frequently should the need arise.
     
    Managing Anxiety
    Using fact-based communication is a good way to manage anxiety, our own as well as that of our children and friends. Having open and honest conversations about COVID-19 as a family is also OK. There are some good resources that can help families with such as this. Our job is to a) take the concerns seriously, b) empathize with how the other person is feeling, c) recognize that we all respond differently to events like this and d) have that open and honest conversation--this is not a taboo subject.
    BrainPOP Resources for Coronavirus discussions (more of a primary focus)
     
    Our Thanks
    I wanted to thank all our families for the excellent way our community has responded to the revised carpool and visitor protocols we published on Friday and over the weekend. Monday went very well indeed. Please continue to follow our revised carpool guidelines that can be found here.
     
    We know we have many families who work in the health sector. We want to thank them and all first responders and health professionals who are stepping up in response to this current outbreak. Thanks also to those health professionals who are members of our AIS community and who have reached out to the school to offer their direct support, advice and professional wisdom. This is very much appreciated.
     
    Please reference the previous AIS communications on the COVID-19 tile in the parent portal on Blackbaud. You will also find additional sources to reference there as well.
     
    Thank you for your support of the school and community as we continue to work through this together. As always, reach out to me with any questions and concerns.  If I can answer you directly, I will. I also may not be the person with the best answer, in which case, I will ask one of our team members to respond on my behalf.
     
    Best regards,
     
    Kevin Glass 
  • March 8th, 2020

    Dear Primary School Parents,
     
    We hope you have had a wonderful Spring Break!  With the changes in procedures due to COVID-19, we wanted to share with you information regarding pick-up procedures for Primary School students.  In order to expedite the carpool process, please record your child’s after school activities in their agenda and have proper identification available during carpool.

    If you are picking up a sick child:  Parents picking up sick students are not allowed to walk to the clinic. Parents of PS students will enter through the main doors of the Secondary School and let security know they are there to pick up a sick child. Security will call the appropriate clinic and the nurse will walk the student to the lobby.  For ELC students, parents will ring the bell and someone will walk their child out to them.
     
    Early Learning Center (ELC)

    Morning Carpool: We are asking ALL families to use the carpool lane.  Please do not park and try to walk them in.  If you live in the neighborhood and are walking, please come to the front entrance of the ELC.   At that point, we will need to ask you to say goodbye without entering.

    After School Carpool (2:30 – 3:00) 
    We are asking ALL ELC families to use the carpool lane. We will begin carpool at 2:30. If you live in the neighborhood and are walking, please queue outside the front entrance. A faculty member will collect names and then your child will be escorted out of the building to you. 

    Enrichment Pick-Up (3:15-3:25)
    Please park and queue in front of the ELC entrance.  A member of the Auxiliary Programs staff will come outside to collect names.  At the completion of the Enrichment Class, students will be escorted to their awaiting guardians.  Any students not picked after their enrichment class will be taken to the Kaleidoscope After School Program and parents will be responsible for all fees associated with the program.Please ensure you have your parent ID badge to expedite the process.
     
    Kaleidoscope Pick-Up (3:00 – 6:30)
    Please park and use the call box to give the name of your child to the KAS front desk staff. A KAS staff member will escort your child to meet you outside the ELC entrance. Please ensure you have your parent ID badge.
     
     
    Primary Learning Center (PLC)

    Morning Carpool: We are asking ALL families to use the carpool lane.  Please do not park and try to walk them in.  If you live in the neighborhood and are walking, please come to the front entrance of the PLC.   At that point, we will need to ask you to say goodbye without entering.

    After School Carpool (3:00 – until finished) 
    All parents (including walkers) pick up their PS child(ren) at the front carpool (families with a child in 5K-Gr.2) or the back carpool (Families who only have a PS child in Gr. 3-5). Please ensure you have your parent ID badge.

     Walkers:  There is no “Walker” pick up on the blacktop until further notice.  Please go to front or back carpool depending on the grade of your child and their siblings (front carpool for families with a child in 5K-Gr.2 or the back carpool for families whose only PS child is in Gr. 3-5). Please ensure you have your parent ID badge.

    Private Lessons: If your child has a private lesson that starts between 3:00 and 3:30, they should stay with their class in the carpool room and then come to the PLC lobby to meet their instructor. For any lessons that start later than 3:30, parents will need to place students in Kaleidoscope or pick them up during normal carpool and then return them to campus.  For dismissals, between 4:00 - 5:00 the students can either go to the carpool rooms and wait for their carpool number to be displayed or the instructor will need to escort the student directly to their car at the front carpool.

    Cafeteria Carpool (3:45-4:00)
    Cafeteria Carpool remains available for PS students with SS siblings.  Older siblings will pick up younger siblings and escort them to the car waiting in the Cafeteria Carpool lane. Any students not picked by 4:00pm will be escorted to the PLC lobby and enrolled in the Kaleidoscope After School Program. Parents will be responsible for all fees associated with the program.
     
    After School Activities Carpool (4:00-5:00):
    We encourage all families to use the after school activities carpool, but you are always welcome to park and walk to the entrance of the PLC. Give your carpool number to a member of our carpool staff and your child will be brought to you.  In order to avoid delays, please enter the carpool area only during your designated times and have your carpool numbers clearly displayed

    Picking up a Sick Child:  Parents picking up sick students are not allowed to walk to the clinic. Parents of PS students will enter through the main doors of the Secondary School and let security know they are there to pick up a sick child. Security will call the appropriate clinic and the nurse will walk the student to the lobby.  For ELC students, parents will ring the bell and someone will walk their child out to them.

    Kaleidoscope Pick-Up:

    4:00- before 5:00 pm, please queue in the After School Carpool and verbally tell the Security Officer that your child is part of Kaleidoscope.  A member of our carpool staff will bring your child directly to your car.
     
    After 5:00 pm, pull up to the PLC entrance and use the call box to give the name of your child to the KAS front desk staff. A KAS staff member will escort your child to your car. Please have proper identification available to expedite the process.

     Frequently Asked Questions:
     
    Can I still walk in and collect my child from Cafeteria Carpool?
    Parents may not pick up their  children directly from Cafeteria Carpool.  The SS student will need to collect their younger sibling from CC and escort them to their car waiting in the Cafeteria Carpool line.

    Where will the After School Programs carpool take place?
    The After School Programs (ASP) carpool will be run similarly to the regular after school carpool for lower grades.  At the completion of the After School Program, students will be brought to the 5K hallway. Our ASP Carpool team will record carpool numbers from the North Fulton Drive entrance and the student will be escorted from the 5K hallway and brought directly to your car.
     
    Can I still park and pick my child up directly from their activity? 
    Parents may not collect students from their activity.  If you need to pick-up early, please place a note in your child’s agenda.  We will call your child out of their activity at the designated time and have them ready for early pickup.
     
    What happens if my children are enrolled in different After School Programs with different dismissal times?
    You may drive through the After School Programs Carpool for each child at their designated time or you have the option of communicating with the instructors of the programs to let them know you will be picking both children up together at the later dismissal time. 
     
    What if my child is going home with another AIS family?
    Please contact the program coordinator in writing.  We will make sure the children are together during carpool so they can be brought to the car together.
     
    What if I am late picking my child up from carpool?
    The safety of your child is our top priority. All students will remain under direct adult supervision at all times.  If you are late, we will check your child into the Kaleidoscope After School Program and parents will be responsible for all fees associated with the program.




    Dear Secondary School Parents:

    Secondary Carpool procedures will remain the same. We are asking all students to when entering the school to immediately go to the restrooms in the ASD or Main Building and wash their hands before moving to the classroom or advisory.

    All SS parents are reminded not to enter the building when picking up your student after school.

    If you are picking up a sick child:  Parents picking up sick students are not allowed to walk to the clinic. The nurse will bring your child to the front desk in the main building.
  • March 6th, 2020

    Dear AIS Parents,
     
    We want to give you an update since our last email on February 28 on the coronavirus (COVID-19).
     
    As many of you know, we now have reported cases of the COVID-19 virus in Atlanta, linked to travel to Italy. There has been no community spread to date in Atlanta, but there are increasing numbers of cases of the virus in the US. We are also seeing an increase in the number of cases in Europe.
     
    Our Task Force has been meeting during the break to monitor the evolving situation and plan for varying levels of response for our school and community.  The Task Force will continue to meet for the duration of the current outbreak.
     
    As an international school with a population that travels extensively around the world we want to take careful steps to keep our community safe. The health of our community members is our first priority. Below you will find the updated guidelines we have put in place to protect our community.
     
    Returning from Spring Break Travel: AIS will be following the CDC Travel Health Notice and requiring that any employee or student who has traveled to a Level 3 country(China, Iran, South Korea, Italy) over Spring Break not come to school for 14 days from the date of departure from that country.  We are also recommending that our employees and families who have traveled to a Level 2 country (Japan) also follow this guidance.  If this is the case for a student in your family, please fill out the information here which we will use to have your child’s teachers send lessons to be completed at home. We will have a team working to support the students who need to remain at home following their spring break travel.
     
    When school reopens on March 9 we ask all families to follow our guidelines for sick children:  A child with a fever of  99.4 degrees fahrenheit (37.4C) or more should not return to school until he or she has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and when they are feeling well enough to be productive in class. 
     
    If you are unsure at all, as to whether your child should be attending school, follow the experts’ advice and take the most cautious decision, and keep them home for observation.  In all cases of doubt, seek advice from your medical provider.
     
    Applying Families: We will also require any family from overseas going through our admissions process to verify they have been in the US symptom free for two weeks before entering our school for tours, interviews or screening.
     
    Visiting AIS: As an additional protection for our students, during the month of March we are asking parents and all visitors to make appointments to come into our school buildings. Everyone will need to check-in at the front desk of the main building where we will ask them to go first to the restrooms to wash their hands before proceeding to their appointment. Washing hands thoroughly is more effective at limiting the spread of respiratory viruses than only using a hand sanitizer.
     
    Students Arriving & Leaving School: All students will be dropped off through carpool. There will not be an option of walking students into the buildings. Parents will not be able to walk into the buildings to pick-up their children from KAS and other afterschool activities. Specific instructions will follow over the weekend for picking up children from these activities.
     
    Students who walk to school from the neighborhood will need to enter through the main doors to the secondary building and will be asked to wash their hands in a restroom, before heading to their advisory or class.
     
    We will be asking all students and employees to wash their hands as a matter of routine when they arrive on campus.
     
    Events on Campus: We will be reviewing our calendar of campus events that take place inside our buildings for the month of March. Some events will move to a virtual, online format, others will continue, but we will ask all attendees to follow our enhanced hand washing protocols when entering the building. Some larger events may be postponed until a later date. We have begun updating calendars and contacting event managers. If you are planning to attend an event at school next week, please check for updates. Events taking place outside the building, on the field, blacktop, etc., will not be affected.
     
    Field Trips: There are no changes to local and national field trips at this time, however we are closely monitoring the situation in our destination cities and will update you if conditions change. Decisions about international student trips will be confirmed on Monday, March 9, and all parents with students registered for these trips will be advised as appropriate thereafter.
     
    Immunocompromised Students: We recommend that all students who are immune compromised seek guidance from their doctors and we will support any potential absences with standard learning support usually provided to students who are sick. Our school nurses stand ready to answer any questions and concerns students or parents may have here.
     
    We will be re-educating all our students and employees on proper hand washing technique and the efficacy of simple hand washing in preventing the spread of infectious diseases.  We will be reminding all of the common sense guidance and advice from the CDC. CDC guidance for preventing the spread of a respiratory virus:
     
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
     
    We will continue with our enhanced cleaning protocols that we have had in place since the start of the school year.
     
    We are very aware that anxiety can be heightened during such situations and we ask you to always remember that our mission and core values ask us to be intentionally inclusive.
     
    We want to separate fact from rumor by relying on our health care experts: the local, state and federal agencies that are responsible for guiding us. See links to these sources below.
     
    As we partner with you and our greater community to meet known and unknown challenges, we are committed to keeping the channels of communication open and doing all we reasonably can to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our community. We will communicate regularly with you as we monitor the situation and we will post all health-related updates on the Parent Portal.
     
    Please reach out to me with any concerns.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Kevin Glass
  • February 28th, 2020

    Dear Parents,
     
    We want to give you an update since our last email on January 27 on the coronavirus (COVID-19). Since that time the virus has continued to spread in several parts of the world, but at the current time, the CDC reports that it is not yet spreading in the US. 
     
    As per our standard operating procedure, AIS has formed an internal task force that has begun planning for situations here in Atlanta where we may need to modify our schedules or close school. We will be sharing more information on these plans, as needed, when we return from Spring Break.
     
    Our task force is in touch with federal, as well as local, public health authorities to coordinate when needed. In order to support our community, we are adding an additional tile to Blackbaud on the parent portal which will be available by the end of the day today that will contain any updates published by the school, as well as links to the CDC’s landing page for COVID-19, the US State Department Travel Advisory site and the Georgia Department of Public Health’s landing page for COVID-19.
     
    As the situation evolves, we will be continually reviewing all planned student field trips and travel for the remainder of the year.  We will be communicating directly with the families of students whose trips may be directly impacted once we get back after Spring Break.  We will also share regular updates for our community by email and these will be housed for reference on the COVID-19 tile on our parent portal.
     
    We know that many in our community will be traveling for Spring Break over the next week. We advise all our families to follow the guidance of the US State Department Travel Advisory, as well as the guidance of your destination country official websites if your plans include international travel. We also want to remind everyone to follow the CDC guidance for preventing the spread of a respiratory virus while you travel: 

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    When school reopens on March 9 we ask all families to follow our guidelines for sick children:  A child with a fever of  99.4 degrees fahrenheit (37.4C) or more should not return to school until he or she has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and when they are feeling well enough to be productive in class. 
     
    If you are unsure at all as to whether your child should be attending school, follow the experts’ advice and take the most cautious decision, and keep them home for observation.  In all cases of doubt, seek advice from your medical provider.
     
    We appreciate you taking these steps to ensure that we keep our community safe and healthy. For the most up-to-date information on the virus please use reliable sources such as those linked at the bottom of this email.  
     
    Please be aware that there is much mis-information and inaccurate information circulating across news feeds and social media. Please do help ensure that our young people have a balanced and factual view of the evolving situation with respect to COVID-19.  The BBC has reported that some Italians have faced discrimination in recent days in the UK. We have also seen other news reports of people of Asian heritage being singled out or labelled. At times like this I am deeply grateful for the Mission and Core Values of our school and community. Please continue to reinforce these in your conversations with your children and each other. We will always strive to treat each other with mutual respect and understanding across all the lines of difference that make our incredible intercultural community so unique.  
     
    As always if you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me directly.
     
    We wish you a safe and healthy Spring Break.
     
    Sincerely,
    Kevin Glass

Atlanta International School

A private, non-profit, international, IB World School for grades 3K-12, featuring full and dual-immersion language programs.

2890 North Fulton Drive

Atlanta, Georgia 30305, USA
404.841.3840