AN IB WORLD SCHOOL

JAMIE'S UPDATE: RE-opening PLAN FOR FALL

June 30, 2020

Dear SGS Community,
 
Happy early 4th of July!  I hope you and your families are able to enjoy the upcoming weekend and safely enjoy captivating fireworks.  June has been a busy month with preparations for the new school year.  Our Task Force and Working Groups have met and produced recommendations for the coming year.  We are still in the process of completing the final document and guidelines as we establish our SGS plan to address the nuances of this pandemic situation.  The ability to be nimble and flexible as well as mitigating the risk of spreading the COVID-19 Virus to keep everyone safe add to the complexity of our overall planning.
 
Overview of the SGS Re-Opening Plan
While the situation continues to be fluid in our region and state, based on the guidelines, restrictions, etc. currently in place, we feel confident in our ability to offer in-person school to start the year and meet the needs of students that are unable to participate on campus.  Our primary goals: 
 
• Establishing relationships between students and teachers to start the new year.
• Establishing classroom processes and routines that can carry over to Distance Learning (DL) as needed.
• Establishing the essential learning objectives for each grade level and subject. 
• Creating and enforcing the elements of a safe learning environment while mitigating the risks of the COVID-19 Virus.
 
What to Expect
There will be a “new” normal in the way we operate in most areas.  The working groups took what we experienced and learned in the spring during DL 1.0 along with input from a multitude of resources in addressing the issues that were identified. 
 
• When school starts, students will be expected to wear masks, wash/sanitize hands, and social distance at six (6) feet.  Classrooms and learning spaces will be set-up to establish the spacing, but students will also need to take on responsibility between classes, during lunch, and at breaks.  We will also be communicating new safety procedures including, but not limited to, entering and exiting buildings, as well as movement within and between buildings and spaces on campus.
• School employees and students will need to adhere to guidelines for personal health before coming to school. (Health guidelines are established by the CDC, DOH, and SRHD.)  
• We anticipate Lower School classes operating primarily in grade level cohorts.  Students in grades 6-12 will also be attending classes mainly by grade level, but there is more movement in these larger grades with student schedules.
• Technology integration will continue to be prioritized within the classrooms as teachers and students utilize a more streamlined platform of tools and establish classroom expectations.  The school is also updating from cable to fiber to increase internet upload speeds and overall reliability.
• Teachers are engaging in a variety of Professional Development opportunities this summer to be better equipped to address teaching in this complex model.
• Clarified expectations and norms for the community (Students, Teachers, Parents, Administrators, etc.) will apply equally in-person and in the DL 2.0 model.  These roles and responsibilities were outlined with the intention of making clear what is expected of each of us, so that everyone can learn and work together as a community and in line with our school’s core values. 
• Large gatherings (Friday Morning meetings, Monday Meetings for MS/US, etc.) will be on hold until we better know the situation in September.
• Transportation and busses – Currently, bus guidelines will require masks, window ventilation and social distancing when it allows.
 
What Is Still Developing?
• Start of School Activities – Each division will be developing a playbook for the start of school and prioritizing the needs of the students.
• Daily Schedule – As part of the need to have a transition plan from in-person to DL, we are creating a daily schedule that will allow for a more seamless transition to DL 2.0 if needed.  This is primarily a focus for the MS/US since LS classes are self-contained.
• We are identifying alternative teaching spaces that will accommodate “larger” classes and social distancing requirements.  Our campus and facilities will allow creativity in this area. 
• Athletics and Activities – Initial guidelines have been published by the WIAA in conjunction with the DOH.  This plan is tied to the state’s re-opening phases, so there is uncertainty based on how the COVID-19 virus responds and the impact to athletics and activities for 2020-21. 
 
Updates will continue in July and August as we approach the start of the school year.  We will also be sending out the Back to School mailing the first week of August.  
 
Thank you and enjoy your summer.
 
Jamie Tender
Head of School
 
 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: planning for fall

June 22, 2020

I hope your summer is off to a good start and you and your kids are enjoying the break now that summer has officially started.  Enjoy the sunshine and warm weather this week.
 
Just a couple of updates regarding our fall planning.  The SGS Re-opening Task Force and working groups continue to develop plans for the 20-21 school year and we hope to finalize and share them by the end of June.  We are integrating the OSPI, the Department of Health and the Spokane Regional Health District’s guidance and directives as part of the SGS Re-Opening plan.  Based on our enrollment and our facilities, we feel we are able to meet the compliance standards set forth at this time for an in-person start. Since the release of the OSPI Re-opening Guidelines, several points have been clarified...  Read More 
 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: learn, listen & act

June 8, 2020

Dear SGS Community,

I heard back from a few people about where we go next in addressing racism, violence and intolerance.  For the last several years, there has been increased attention and conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion topics at Saint George’s.  Many of the topics and discussions have been brought forward in the Upper School community and are a result of student action-oriented engagement with societal issues.  As a K-12 school, there is a ripple effect among all divisions of the school when these topics are raised.  

The topics of racism and intolerance, and privileged and marginalized populations have been discussed and debated in workshops and forums.  The Diversity Club arranged for a speaker, George Lee, to speak with the Upper School students and K-12 faculty last year on race and bias.  That jump started an informed conversation, as Mr. Lee was engaging, thought-provoking and challenged the status quo in our little school.  It was a start at analyzing our community through different lenses that was unfortunately delayed when the pandemic hit. ...Read More

 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: Confronting Racism

June 1, 2020

Dear SGS Families,
This past week has been one of the most challenging and troubling that I can remember.  The senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery has brought many Americans together in protest and solidarity across the country and in Spokane.  Their deaths have caused grief, frustration, fear, and anger across the nation.  

I am at a loss to find the adequate words to denounce these actions, and to capture all my thoughts and feelings as I process this situation. I continue to listen, learn and think about what I can do to contribute to the change that is needed and long overdue in our country.  I feel particularly for our students, families and friends of color.  I continue to seek better understanding of and perspective on their life experience.  I am hopeful our nation can work together to rid racism and intolerance from our society, and I know our school community will be a part of that work.  Read More

 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: finishing strong

May 26, 2020

Dear SGS Parents,

Welcome to Phase 2 in Spokane!  I hope you were able to enjoy some rest and relaxation over the long weekend.  We are now just 8 days until the end of the 2020 Distance Learning experience.  I am expecting a strong finish to the school year with some “new angles” on the end of year experiences.  Be sure to check the Division Heads’ letters for details.

In my 16 years at Saint George’s, I have never been prouder to be a part of this extraordinary school. SGS is defined by people, the relationships we form between us, and the ways those relationships shape our lives.  Over the last couple of months, the school’s administrators have been focused on helping our community manage this crisis and run a school.  There is still more work to be done for this year and planning is already underway for next year.  I want to emphasize that our goal is to begin the year in-person, and we will do everything required on our part to make that a possibility.  I am hopeful the re-opening process across the state will enable positive developments for schools such as SGS going forward.   Read More
 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: FUN RUN & DL Survey

May 18, 2020,

Dear SGS Parents,
This is a four-day week of classes with a long Memorial Day weekend before our final “push” towards the end of the school year.  This past weekend was highlighted by the SGS Virtual Fun Run and the far-reaching participation of Dragons across the globe.  Thank you again to SGS Upper School Teacher, Rachel Hildie, for creating this community event.  It was heartwarming to see the SG Spirit come through in pictures posted to the various social media pages.  We all miss our community gatherings and events that make the SGS experience so special.  Go Dragons!

There is a great deal going on behind the scenes as school continues, so let me give a brief update:

Thank you to all of our families that took time to answer the May Distance Learning survey.  This provides very helpful information for our consideration and direction!!  We had 110 completed surveys and each division was well-represented in the responses.  We are still analyzing and applying results.   Read More
 

Jamie's Update: Planning for fall

May 11, 2020

Dear SGS Families,

Today, as I update you on plans at Saint George’s, I again want to express my gratitude for your flexibility and patience as we adapt to the changing circumstances related to the COVID-19 crisis. We have experienced a great disruption in the ways our community engages, and I appreciate your effort and resilience. We will have more challenges ahead, and I am confident we will continue to confront them with a spirit of unity and grace.

I encourage you to read through the updates on our weekly email sent out on Mondays for highlights still ongoing within our community.  Our social media pages are being updated almost daily with uplifting news.  

For now, I want to share more information and details about planning for this fall, that continues to be a primary focus...  Read More

 

Jamie's Update: Planning Scenarios

May 4, 2020
Dear SGS Parents,
Each passing day provides some insight into what the new “normal” might look like for schools and the Spokane community.  I stress “might” because, since the beginning of the pandemic, we have all been operating in unknowns and best guess scenarios.  As a school steeped in tradition, we mourn each special event as it unceremoniously passes with the other cancellations.  Navigating the loss, creating the present and planning for the future are all part the current quandary.  I am sure many of you have seen stories regarding plans for universities and schools in the fall.  For the 2020-21 academic year, Saint George’s is creating multiple plans to address a variety of situations as well... Read More

 

Jamie's UPdate: Distance learning & well being

April 27, 2020
Dear Friends,
I hope you are remaining healthy and enjoying the warmer weather.  Yesterday provided a welcomed excuse to get outside and be active.  The Nine Mile Falls area was beautiful and the views overlooking the river were breathtaking.  Enjoy the four-day school week ahead and more importantly enjoy a little break on Friday, May 1 and the three-day weekend.  Our next break is May 22 and that will provide for a four-day weekend over Memorial Day!

During the last two weeks we have focused on providing more structure and routine around the Distance Learning platform at SGS.... Read More
 

Jamie's Update: COVID-19 & Education

April 20, 2020
Dear Friends,
With each passing day on campus, I discover something new or something I haven’t appreciated in the past.  Yesterday, I noticed several of the cherry trees popping as their blooms were so vibrant against the emerging spring backdrop.  I have attached a picture of the tree just below the MS basketball court.  It was beautiful to see and you can just imagine the low hum of the bees discovering the fresh blossoms.  I wish the picture would have had students walking past the tree on their way to PE . . . next year! 
 
Last week, the teachers and administrative team spent a great deal of time working through additional structuring of our Distance Learning approach at each grade, division and departmental level... Read More

 

Jamie's Update: DL Survey

April 13, 2020
Dear Friends,
I hope you all were able to enjoy “Spring Break” and a little down time.  I also hope for those celebrating, that Passover and Easter were joyous occasions.  In talking with friends and colleagues, it sounds as though some virtual get-togethers may not have happened if not for these special circumstances.  I hope these silver linings made for a special time for your family.  I know my daughters enjoyed the traditional Easter Egg hunt at our house and they are now both in their 20’s... Read More 

 

Jamie's Update: School closed until fall

April 6, 2020
Dear SGS Community,

Today we heard the news that Washington state would be joining fourteen other states in closing in-person school for the remainder of the academic year.  That was anticipated, but still not the news anyone wanted to hear.  For SGS, that means we will extend the learning horizon to June and spend more time refining our approaches to Distance Learning (DL).  The first three weeks have been a steep learning curve for everyone taking part in DL and we will learn from that experience.  Fortunately, we have a strong network of professional development resources internally and externally that we have relied on and will continue to do so for the next eight weeks... Read More

 

Jamie's Update: Words of encouragement

March 30, 2020

Dear SGS Community,
 
I hope everyone is staying healthy and navigating this crisis as well as possible.  This situation continues to be complex and ever-changing.  You can be assured we are doing our best on the SGS educational front.  Now starting our third week of distance learning, I have been proud of our teachers and their efforts to engage with students and provide ongoing lessons/content/support for the students (and parents) across our K-12 program.  Thank you for all of the words of encouragement and gratitude you have been sharing with the teachers and administrators.  ...Read More
 

 

Jamie's Update on Distance Learning

March 20, 2020

Dear SGS Friends,
 
SGS Distance Learning Week #1 is off and running.  I want to begin by recognizing our teachers’ excellent work.  They had a big challenge setting up remote learning platforms and they have stepped up mightily in a relatively short period of time.  The Division Heads and I have received many emails of appreciation and we have forwarded them on to our teachers as often and quickly as possible.  These emails of good news and positive feedback have taken the place of the wonderful PA Appreciation Luncheons.  Thank you to our wonderful parents for your appreciation, patience and support of our faculty and staff during these difficult times.  It makes a difference as everyone is putting forth Best Efforts!  ...Read More
 
 

MESSAGE TO PARENTS

 
March 14, 2020
 
Dear SGS Community,
 
We are all headed into unchartered territory for at least the next six weeks.  This will be a time for all in our community to exhibit patience, empathy, strength and grace as we all work together to make the best of a bad situation. Let me take the opportunity to share a few thoughts and then provide a short-term road map going forward.  ...Read More
 
 

RESOURCES

• CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• WA State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/
• Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction: https://www.k12.wa.us/