Community Messages

Community Messages

Msg #18 –  Apr 1st 2020

 

Parents, please fill in this brief survey NOW for your family: https://forms.gle/qgs8HAtXwi4zKVkf6

 

Dear AES Community,

 

In the eye of a storm like COVID, scientific and public health tools are essential, but so are humility and kindness. With solidarity, humility and assuming the best of each other, we can – and will – overcome this together.” –Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization

 

We have completed our first week of lockdown here in India. As we all know, fighting COVID-19 is turning our world upside down and we are trying to make sense of all the information coming at us. The situation is highly dynamic everywhere—not just in India—and we are trying to plan as far in advance as possible. One thing remains constant throughout this crisis: AES’s dedication to providing continuous, virtual learning to our students, no matter where they are in the world.

 

The number of cases of COVID-19 in India continues to grow, unfortunately. The current lockdown is slated to end on April 15, but it could be extended. Delhi schools are closed until April 15, but again that closure could be extended. There is no official word on either of those decisions. Many embassies and missions are authorizing or ordering the departure of dependents and some of their personnel. Some countries are organizing repatriation flights for their citizens, and some of our families and teachers will be flying out soon. At this time, about 25% of AES teachers have left India, and a similar percentage of students are also in their home countries now. Those percentages will grow as the repatriation flights continue. We will be surveying families for their plans very soon, to give us good, current data.

 

India is doing its best to flatten the curve. That means that the country won’t be back to business as usual for some time. There is a strong likelihood that AES will not be able to reopen its campus before the end of the school year. We all have to do our part to flatten the curve. Many other countries and U.S. states are closing their schools, to help safeguard the health of their students and their citizens. While we hope that we can re-open in May, we recognise this is unlikely.

 

The board and administration want our families to be in a place where they feel best prepared to navigate the uncertain days ahead. AES teachers will continue to ensure our students are joyfully pursuing excellence to the best extent possible.

 

Therefore, we will continue providing robust, online Continuous Learning programs to our AES students through the end of May. In May, we hope to open some of our classrooms for in-class learning, or open some of our campus for services to students and families who are in Delhi. We will make those decisions once India’s longer-term strategy for flattening the curve is more clear. If we can offer on-campus instruction, we will continue to offer Continuous Learning through May 29 for all students who are outside of India.

 

Families are welcome to continue using the school’s laptops and iPads, to facilitate our students’ online learning. Musical instruments, library books, tech devices you do not need, and other materials can be returned at Gate 2, or you can make other arrangements through a neighbor to return it for you.

 

I know there will be many questions from parents. In the table at the bottom of this email, our leadership team has worked with the Board of Governors to anticipate and answer some of your questions. Our three principals will be providing families with further information about how learning will continue, how students’ participation will be recorded, and how grades will be assessed and reported. We are constantly reassessing and recalibrating as the days fly by. Hundreds of other international schools around the world are facing the same issues, and we’re sharing and learning with them. Some issues are still being discussed, and we’ll share further information with you as quickly as we can.

 

In our mission and core value statements, the American Embassy School makes seven explicit commitments to students, parents, teachers and other community members. Three of our commitments to you are especially relevant as we think about Continuous Learning. We are committed to

  • nurturing the intellectual, physical, social and emotional development of each student
  • improving student learning through research, reflection and innovation
  • helping students make transitions to, within and from AES

The leadership team and our teachers are keeping these commitments in our hearts and minds as we make decisions, plan lessons and work with you and your children in the weeks ahead.

 

In hope and solidarity,

 

Jim Laney Jr.,

AES Director

 

Questions you may have...

Answers...

Will Continuous Learning be as robust through the end of May as it is now?

Yes. As we have been doing over the last few weeks, we will continue to reassess and recalibrate what we are doing throughout the remainder of the year. Our teachers are learning what works, and what doesn’t work. Learning units will be designed to ensure readiness for the next school year. Asynchronous learning will be the main mode for instruction, and teachers will expand on our initial successes with Zoom for learning and for making social-emotional connections in our community.

AES is committed to education for the whole child, as we have always been. It will be different than it normally is, but that is still our philosophy and is the basis for our online programs.

What about grades and Report Cards in the Elementary School?

Students will receive narrative comments and no tick marks. Tick marks are not grades, and we don’t have a full semester of teaching, learning and assessment to provide tick marks with integrity. Narrative comments for each subject area will provide any pertinent information. This plan is in line with many other international schools.

What about grades and Report Cards in the Middle School?

At this stage no changes are planned, other than no reporting on learning habits by teachers per subject. We will have structured student reflection guided by advisors that will reflect their successes and areas for growth. This will be very similar to what teachers and students do together in normal circumstances.

What about grades and Report Cards in the High School?

Seniors will finish the year with traditional grades. Their online learning will end in early May. There have been conversations about pass/fail grades for grades 9–11 for semester two. We are collecting information from other schools globally and we are looking at research about this practice. The HS admin will continue to gather perspectives and make a final decision in the next couple of weeks.

What will Crossing the Bridge look like for 5th graders? What about other important ceremonies for our students?

Our Crossing the Bridge ceremony is very important for our students moving from the Elementary into the Middle School. It could be done online, with speeches by the Grade 5 teachers and others. We can still produce a video of the year for students to enjoy. We are working on a plan for the ceremony and we will share it with families once it is finalized.

What will ‘Moving Up’ look like for 8th graders?

We are planning for this ceremony now. Grade 8 students could film their reflective statement. Other speeches can be virtual and the 8th grade team can also provide a closing event.

What will Graduation look like for our Seniors?

It will be Virtual, even if we reopen the campus for classroom learning. The HS Admin is researching and gathering feedback from other international schools as well as the AES Class of 2020 in order to make it authentic and appropriate.

How can we return materials, instruments or technology?

Leave books, instruments and technology at Gate 2. Families that have left India and will not return will need to pay a fee to keep the equipment, or find a way to return the equipment expeditiously in the summer or autumn.

Will seniors receive transcripts? Will they receive diplomas?

Yes. As per our usual practice and following our established timeline, any students/parents will be able to order official transcripts from Parchment, the online service we use for this. Diplomas can be signed and mailed to all graduating seniors, or given to those who remain in Delhi.

What about EAL and summer programs?

We do not anticipate holding a Summer School program or our ALI program for English Language Learners in June. If that changes, we will inform the community. In the meantime, our EAL and Learning Support teachers are working closely with classroom teachers and with students to support their learning online.

What about refunds for lunch, etc?

The Board’s finance committee is considering some of these issues but no decision has yet been made.

Will students be harmed as they apply for colleges or for other K–12 schools, and have only pass/fail grades on their transcripts?

We do not believe students will be harmed or disadvantaged by this. Colleges are already providing guidance on how they will adjust admissions timelines and decision making in this time. Here is one statement from a selective Ivy League university:

Please be assured that Columbia Undergraduate Admissions fully supports the pedagogical and administrative decisions your school may make in order to assist your community through this crisis. For example, pass/fail marks or alternative grading methods in lieu of letter or numerical grades this spring will be accommodated when we review applicants' transcripts next year and beyond. We all have plenty of obstacles to navigate in the months ahead, and preparing paperwork for your college-bound students should be the least of your concerns.

Furthermore, as we consider younger students, we understand that disruptions may significantly alter the trajectory of their extracurricular, athletic and other pursuits. Students might not have access to summer programs or other enrichment experiences. Their college applications will likely look different than they have in the past. We remain committed to our holistic and contextual review process that considers the individual circumstances that shape each applicant's journey.

We are hearing from more and more universities every day, and the common message is “Our admission process/decision will take into consideration the global impact of Covid-19, and we will not penalize students for a situation that was beyond their control”

Will students receive a yearbook?

Right now our printer is not able to operate his business. When the lockdown lifts, yearbooks will be finalized. They could be picked up or delivered to families that are in Delhi, mailed to departing families and held for the fall for returning families who are not in Delhi now.