Fall Reopening Update: July 23, 2020
Dear TIS Community,
Thank you so much for your patience as we continue to devise plans for reopening in September. While we will still face a lot of uncertainty in the coming weeks, we are committed to providing a safe way to give your kids the best of The International School. Our teachers and staff remain dedicated to providing your child a unique, quality TIS education.
In the past two weeks, Governor Kate Brown has released temporary orders that aim to reverse the current surge in COVID-19 infections and put the state back on track for a safe school reopening in the Fall. This afternoon, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released revised guidelines for school operation this upcoming year. The primary focus in our own planning is the health and safety of our students and employees.
Upon review of these new mandates and guidelines, we believe that we are still able to safely operate full-time and on-campus this September. Providing in-person education is ideal for our students, teachers, and families. In addition, we are extremely fortunate and privileged to have the facilities and resources that enable us to do so while mitigating risk to our community. We meet – and in many instances actually exceed – the detailed guidelines set forth by the state.
- Unlike many schools and districts, we have the space, population size, and resources to welcome back our students full time while adhering to the Oregon Department of Education and Early Learning Division’s stringent social distancing and disinfection protocols.
- We have begun communicating directly with teachers and staff about all of our planning and what the work environment might be like, as well as gathering feedback from them. Our teachers have overwhelmingly indicated that they are prepared to return to campus, and understand that we are working hard to keep them and our students safe.
- We are preparing a hybrid program to address the needs of students – and staff – who may not be able to come to campus in-person.
We recognize that this is an extremely stressful and challenging time for everyone, and acknowledge that we may face intermittent closures. While we are confident in our ability to reopen and operate campus safely, we are also making improvements to our well-established Continuous Learning program. Should it become necessary to close campus, we will quickly shift to Continuous Learning, which incorporates these latest enhancements. We are confident that we will be able to provide a high-quality education to our students, regardless of whether campus is closed or open.
The Oregon Department of Education requires all schools to submit detailed reopening plans that align with a host of detailed safety and sanitization requirements. This Operational Blueprint for Reentry Plan is due by August 15th. Our TIS Reopening Team—consisting of members of the Senior Management Team (SMT), the Educational Leadership Team (ELT), and our Health & Safety team—is working hard to finalize our TIS Operational Blueprint for Reentry. We are engaging directly with the Oregon Early Learning Division to ensure our planning for PreK/LowK aligns with their requirements.
Here are some updates you will find useful:
Our intention is to stay with the 2020-21 school calendar to the best of our ability and start Tuesday, September 1. We are working on plans to allow safe teacher and classroom introductions to students before the start of the year, and will share them with you when ready. Please keep in mind that conditions may arise that might necessitate calendar adjustments as we move through the school year. We will do our best to provide you with advance notice should this become necessary.
All TIS employees will be provided with masks and other PPE appropriate to their job responsibilities. At this time, staff will wear face coverings per state mandate. Per Governor orders, all children aged 5 and older will be required to wear face coverings as of this Friday, July 24. We will strongly encourage our younger students to do so as well. We urge parents to practice face mask usage with their children now, especially for those who have younger children. We recommend starting with short periods of time to begin with, like walks around the neighborhood. Here are some recommendations about how to help your children become accustomed to wearing coverings.
As we mentioned in our last update, all on-site volunteer and visitor programs will be suspended until further notice in order to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19. Due to these restrictions, we unfortunately will not be able to provide third-party lunch deliveries to campus this coming year. We simply do not have the staffing resources to safely distribute them ourselves. We hope to resume providing lunch options in the 2021-2022 school year.
Our reopening plans also include those for Global Kids, our extended-day program. After school programs are allowed by the State as long as we follow all requirements and include that in our Operational Blueprint for Reentry. Due to stable cohort restrictions, Global Kids will utilize more of a childcare model that will limit after school options. That means we will not be able to have third-party classes on campus this coming year. We will provide families with more specific information and enrollment dates for Global Kids in the next few weeks.
We appreciate your understanding of the level of complexity presented in determining the details of a daily schedule, and we are working hard to develop one..
We thank you for your help and cooperation. We all need to be patient with ourselves and with others as we adapt to our new reality. No matter what the future holds, we will continue to prioritize safety and the quality of education that has always been the cornerstone of TIS.
Robert Woods, Head of School