Head of School Message
Happy Wednesday, Owl Families!
We have successfully finished more than half of our school year and are well underway towards a great second semester at Aspen Ridge. As COVID continues to infiltrate our community and make its presence known, we are continuing to work as a team to adjust our practices with the ever-changing guidance being shared. At our staff meeting yesterday afternoon, we jokingly explained that last week, the updated guidance that had just been communicated changed, yet again, within hours. (No joke.) And the guidance that is being shared has so many various caveats and veins. Between masking, vaccinations, exposure, ongoing exposure, positive results, false negative results, and boosters, each case looks a little different.
Please keep in mind that at Aspen Ridge, we are:
- Continuing to operate successfully during a pandemic (we are in our third school year making adjustments).
- Committed to a safe, in-person environment for our students and staff.
- Analyzing every situation as quickly and accurately as we can with the information that we are given.
- Focused on remaining "in the middle" as much as possible.
We understand that this is a confusing time and we understand the frustration that comes with it. We are living it first hand. We need your support and understanding with a few areas as we continue on this journey as a community.
Moving forward, we will not be sending classroom communication home with every positive case or exposure. We have enough positive or symptomatic communications coming in on a daily basis to the front office that an email communication to classroom families every time we receive a notice would only create anxiety and stress. If we are understanding this pandemic cycle correctly, most, if not all of us, will test positive with the Omnicron strain at some point over the next few weeks, whether vaccinated, boostered, masked, or not. It feels a bit like a no-win situation.
We will communicate initial positive cases, so that you can monitor your child(ren) for symptoms and take preferred precautions. If there is a positive case in your child's classroom, our mitigation strategy is to have all students in that class mask for 10 days (whether they have a mask waiver or not). We will keep you updated if it is necessary to extend this masking period due to additional cases. We realize that there are strong opinions regarding masks and their effectiveness; however, this is the mitigation strategy that we are using. We are giving the choice back to you to keep your child at home if masking does not fit your personal druthers.
We are moving away from quarantining the whole class, and we are asking that you keep your child home if they are showing any signs of sickness. We are trying to keep as much normalcy in each classroom and around the school as we can, and we are trusting our families to make the best decisions possible with everyone's well being in mind.
We are working with our teachers and staff to keep them home when they are sick, and we are doing our best not to stress about the added issues that arise with sub planning, shortages of substitutes, and the anxiety that is felt by every educator when they have to be out. Our natural tendency to continue working through sickness, as we did before COVID, just doesn't work for us anymore, students and staff alike. We are once again being forced to slow down and being reminded to rest when we are sick.
We will not be immediately responding to every email that comes through our inbox (and this is the hardest to digest). Our expectation for our staff, as stated in our Staff Handbook, is to reply when possible within 48 hours. For the mental well-being of our teachers and staff, we are giving them permission to go home after work and be a mom, a dad, a spouse, a roommate, an "off-the clock" citizen. Educators naturally work well beyond a school "day" - even more so with the many challenges of this pandemic - and we are paying the price. Educators and health care workers are leaving these fields at an alarming rate. We do not want any of our staff to leave because of stress, anxiety, mental health, being overworked, or worrying about pay. Our school has thrived and excelled because of our excellent and dedicated staff. Now is the time for us to rewrite what education looks like and to support our staff throughout this process.
What are other supportive practices that you can be a part of?
Please trust our teachers and staff as decisions are being made. You may not understand every decision. As stated above, the guidance that is being shared has so many various caveats and veins. This is not an equitable virus and it looks different for everyone.
Please assume the best and know that we are all doing the best we can.
Please refrain from sending emails demanding answers about the decisions being made. I've read that we naturally make over 35K decisions a day. Now throw in a classroom full of students, each of their guardians, their teammates and supervisors. I guarantee the number of decisions being made each day/hour then multiplies exponentially. Our teachers and staff are trained professionals, they are natural problem solvers and collaborators, they are positive, trustworthy, and hard working. Let's show them some grace. Let's allow them to educate our children, grow them socially, support them emotionally, and operate a school.
We have much to be thankful for at Aspen Ridge. Our families are actively involved and we have amazing substitutes that have joined our team this year. We believe in creating a supportive, welcoming environment. We keep our students' needs at the forefront, and we continue to focus on academics as a priority. We know that we can only control what we can control. We can't change the past and we do our best to make decisions about the future. We ARE Aspen Ridge!
In case it's not on your radar, we do have a board meeting tonight and you are always more than welcome to contribute during the public comments section. While you won't necessarily be given an answer on the spot, know that we are listening intently and your comments do not go on deaf ears. The most updated COVID processes will also be shared. Please feel free to join this Zoom meeting and listen in.
Be well and remember....
Charla Salmeron, Head of School