May 24, 2021
Message from the Executive Director
Dear Families,

I hope you were able to read the details in my last message from Saturday, May 22 that included some important notes about our school plans for the last 5 weeks of this school year. My message today is focused on our plans for the 2021-2022 School Year.
Coming Back Together - 2021-2022 School Year Begins August 30
While the new approaches to teaching and learning that have been developed over the past 15 months have been nothing short of impressive, we know that online learning is not a complete substitute for in-person instruction. I know we all look forward to the coming school year as one when we can reconnect in person with one another and build back our community - truly together.

For the next school year, we are planning for a return to our normal class and campus organization:
 
  • On-campus instruction for all students
  • Full-time schedule for all grades, TPS (2 yo) - 12th grade
  • 5-day/week classes on all campuses
  • School bus service for morning, afternoon and evening routes

If health conditions change, we may need to revisit these plans, but families should plan for the full-time in-person model in place for the first day of school on August 30th. 
COVID-19 Vaccinations
COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available for persons age 12 and up. These vaccines are an essential tool to maintain the health of our school community.
Vaccinations for Faculty and Staff
Over 90% of our faculty and staff have already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. By the start of the school year on August 30, all eligible faculty and staff will be fully vaccinated. This is part of our commitment to help keep our students and fellow colleagues safe and healthy.
Student Vaccines
To provide the safest environment for all members of our community, we will be requiring all eligible students ages 12 and above to receive COVID-19 vaccinations once the FDA has issued a full approval of a vaccine. 

  • Currently, the vaccines available are approved as an emergency use authorization (“EUA”) from the FDA (meaning that the vaccine has been found to be safe and effective and additional study data is required over a more extended period of time to qualify for full approval). 

  • During this period of EUA vaccine availability, we strongly urge all eligible students to receive their vaccinations as soon as possible. 

  • Once the full approval is granted, likely later in 2021, the vaccine will become a requirement for students ages 12 and above to participate in on-campus classes and activities. 

  • When the vaccines are available and fully approved for younger students, we will consider a further update to our vaccine requirements for students ages 2 - 11.

  • Consistent with our policy related to other vaccinations, students with unique medical conditions or religious convictions should speak with our nurse directly for exemption documentation.

  • Students who become eligible (e.g., as they reach their 12th birthday) or who are new to the school should obtain their vaccination as soon as possible and will be contacted by our school nurse within 6 weeks (of birth date or arrival) to obtain vaccination verification.

Mask / Face Covering Protocols
Mask wearing has become one of the most visible signs of the COVID-19 pandemic. As our local community starts to lift restrictions, we hope to be able to also eliminate this requirement for fully vaccinated persons. However, current health regulations specify that schools must maintain mask-wearing for all persons regardless of vaccination status. So, for now, we will maintain this protocol and will consider modifications as we are permitted to do so. We will review our mask / face covering protocols in light of local health conditions and based on County and State guidance before the start of the new school year. In the future, even if mask wearing is no longer required, students, faculty and staff will be permitted to wear their mask if they choose to do so.
Other Health Protocols
As we continue to look forward to a return to “business as usual”, it seems likely that some adaptation to our health and safety protocols may continue to be necessary. In this respect, it is good news that we have such a strong relationship and open channels of communication with the Montgomery County Health Department and we will continue to develop procedures (as needed) with their guidance and that of the State of Maryland, and the CDC.

If it is required, we are prepared to continue our mitigation strategies currently in place, but await the direction of our local officials in the coming weeks and even over the summer. Our staff is ready to adapt, as needed, our procedures for lunch times (whether in classrooms or cafeterias), recess / break times, air purifiers, cleaning and sanitizing procedures, hand washing and sanitizer stations, after school activities, student cohort groups, and more.
Save the Date: June 16th
General Assembly for Families
We traditionally host a General Assembly for families near the end of each school year. This is a time where the school can offer a recap of the year, offer a look ahead, and respond to questions. You will be receiving an invitation in the coming weeks, including a form link so you may share your questions with us. This event will be hosted online. Please mark your calendar for this date: Wednesday, June 16 at 5pm.
In addition to the details of the plans we have outlined above, I want to add just how enthusiastic we are for the coming school year and for a further return to normal school operations. Our faculty and staff are all focused on continuing to provide a safe and healthy environment for all members of our school community and we appreciate the partnership of all of our families in that effort as well. While we have missed many opportunities to gather together this school year, I hope you will join us for the General Assembly online meeting next month.

Kind regards,
Hélène Fabre, Executive Director