Good afternoon Owl Families,
We hope you are doing well and staying healthy. Do you remember how many times a day you should work towards washing your hands? (Hint: It rhymes with 'PEN.')
Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? In such uncertain times and with cold and flu season almost here, I'll take my chances of having chapped skin to avoid getting sick, that's for sure. A small price to pay for good health.
Friday marks the 50th day of school for most of our students in 1st through 8th grade (Monday for PreK and Kindergarten students), and I'm so proud that we continue to thrive at Aspen Ridge. We’ve given ourselves so many benchmarks in this time. “If we can just make it one month…” “If we can just make it to Halloween…” And now, “If we can just make it to Thanksgiving…” The hard work of sanitizing and disinfecting by our staff; the reminders to wear masks/wash hands/cover coughs by our teachers; the diligence in picking students up from school or staying home 'just to be safe' by families—these have not only been remarkable practices by all, but we believe they have, in fact, been the driving factors that have allowed us to be on site for learning in these first 50 days.
As we continue to be joyful in our ability to connect and learn (both on premise and virtually), it is hard not to notice what is going on around us—both nearby and afar. COVID rates are at an all-time high. Our nearby counties continue to see sharp rises in positive cases. Nearby districts are moving into tighter hybrid and remote learning platforms each day. The positive cases that we have seen at Aspen Ridge (2 students and 1 staff) have not resulted in any outbreaks at school and have been traced back to off-campus exposures, which is a great sign that everything we have put into place this year is working.
Closely following the data at the state and county levels is just one of the ways that we’ll determine when and if Aspen Ridge will move into a virtual platform. When you consider the rise in cases all around us, you may question why we are not moving into a virtual setting right now. Yet when you consider the few cases that we have had at school so far, and how well they have managed to stay contained, it may paint a picture of why we continue to strive for on-premise learning.
The challenges that we currently have at Aspen Ridge are different than what we are seeing all around us, so we’re continuing to move forward in a cautious and strict, policy-following way. We continue to sanitize and disinfect; we continue to stay strict on our student and staff sick policies; we continue to remind students to wear their masks, wash their hands, cough into their elbows and recognize personal space (or social distancing) the best we can. Alongside those best practices, we are also working on schedules and processes that we would implement should we move into a virtual setting (to be proactive, rather than reactive). Our middle school students and teachers helped get our minds into gear when they recently quarantined for a few days, and our VIP teachers and students are a constant reminder of the many ways that we can connect, grow, and thrive in the event that we need to have everyone online for a time period.
Above all, we are working hard to maintain positivity, even in the eye of a pandemic. How we react to events out of our control speaks volumes of us as a school and a community.
Our Board of Directors will be meeting next week to discuss metrics and to determine those percentiles that would move us into a virtual platform. SVVSD has already given the go ahead to families to choose on their own what they feel most comfortable with (hybrid or totally online). As you begin to process and determine what is best for your family, please know that we always have the option for students to move online (to the VIP program) at any given time, and are happy to help transition your child if this is the direction you choose.
Your support over the last 50 days of school has been immeasurable. I remember starting this school year being just overjoyed that we were actually going to be starting in person. We were taking a chance, in such an unknown time, to practice what we know: teaching kids in person. We were offering choices to our families, to differentiate for all. Even without a manual or years of training in “how to teach during a pandemic,” our trials and efforts (both good and bad) have been worth it, just to be at school.
Keep those memories alive and well, keep focusing on what's positive, lead by example, and as we tell our Owls each and every day on announcements...don't forget to smile. (It looks good on you.)
Be well and SOAR,
Charla Salmeron, Principal