AIS Communiqué #7 Regarding COVID-19
Dear AIS Community,
We are writing to you today regarding the evolution of COVID-19 and how our school is adjusting to it. This is a follow-up from the COVID-19 Communiqué #6 sent on March 20th, 2020.
STAY HOME – WORK SAFE
As you are likely aware, Austin Mayor Steve Adler signed order 2020324-007 into law yesterday with it coming into effect at 11:59pm last night. Under this new order, all employees of non-essential businesses are required to stay at home in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Austin International School is designated as an Essential Business under §6.f.xxiv of this order, since as an Educational Institution, we provide distance learning to our students. While we are strongly encouraging our staff to work remotely – and most are – we have a strict campus access protocol for members of staff who may need to come to campus to retrieve material or use a designated workspace for a limited amount of time. Above all, health and safety are our priority and our strict campus access and daily disinfection protocols work to ensure maximum protection for limited staff who are on campus to ensure distance learning continues to run smoothly for our students.
EXTENSION OF CAMPUS CLOSURE
Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s order 20200324-007 is in effect until April 13th, 2020. Consequently, our campus closed through to all non-essential personnel and community members (including weekend schools) through at least Sunday, April 12th, 2020. We will continue to monitor executive orders from the federal, state, and local governments in order to evaluate how they impact our operations. As we have done over the past several weeks, we will keep you informed of any of these developments via email and through the COVID-19 Information and Updates page on our website.
A MESSAGE FROM MLF TO FAMILIES
AIS is fortunate to count on a strong network of organizations that support our school’s programs. I have attached for you a letter from Mr. Jean-Christophe Deberre, Director-General of the Mission Laïque Française (MLF) addressed to families of students in MLF schools. This letter is also accompanied by a video from Mr. Deberre. Though the content is only available in French, Mr. Deberre wishes to reassure families of students in MLF schools that their children’s learning is in good hands. His letter and video message explain that many resources are being made available to teachers (in four languages), that distance learning must allow for social interactions in addition to academics, and that while the format of teachers’ work is changing, learning remains at the core of what we do. Though all our staff is on spring break and learning to adjust to a new lifestyle of quarantine and physical distancing, many of us have attended numerous trainings offered by the MLF and other partner organizations. This has been invaluable in preparing us for the best possible launch of our AIS Distance Learning program!
SHIFT TO DISTANCE LEARNING
AIS’s Distance Learning program will begin on Wednesday, April 1st. As we have all seen, a pandemic can arrive suddenly and turn our lives upside down without much warning, leaving people to scramble to make decisions. In Austin, we were fortunate for this to hit during spring break; AIS is doubly fortunate to benefit from a two-week spring break. During this time, our Pedagogical Leadership Team has worked every day to refine our AIS Distance Learning program so that it keeps both students’ academic and socioemotional development at the forefront of what we do. You will shortly receive more details from our team that will outline what students’ days will look like starting one week from today. I know that our entire team is very excited to reconnect with our young AIS Owls next week!
As you can imagine, our campus closure means reshaping a lot of our events and key dates. We will roll those changes out to you as they come up. That said, we want to provide you a heads-up about a couple of key dates on our calendar that are on the near horizon:
- Progress Reports. We were originally scheduled to send progress reports to families on Wednesday, April 1st. Because our team needed to shift our focus to preparing for AIS Distance Learning, it means that we have had to move progress reports to the back burner for a bit. We still have some proofreading and grade checks to do, so these will be sent at a later date. We will send you an email as soon as we have the new date for the issuance of progress reports.
- Parent-Teacher Conferences. Our Parent-Teacher Conferences originally scheduled for April 9th and 10th will no longer take place as planned. Our team is in the process of preparing an alternate format for the PTCs that be scheduled on new dates. Again, we will communicate the details and dates of the new PTCs once we have finalized them.
Thank you again for your kind emails and words of encouragement. Our sense of community is an invaluable element of the social support network that allows us to overcome difficulties such as these.
We look forward to reconnecting with you all virtually next week!
Mr. Jacques A. Weber, M.Ed.
Head of School/Chef d'Établissement