Latest updates from the Dutch government:
- Government takes stock of measures to combat spread of coronavirus - Tuesday, September 8, 2020
- Regaining control over coronavirus with local measures - Thursday, August 6, 2020
- From 1 July: staying 1.5 metres apart remains the norm - Wednesday, June 24, 2020
- Tackling coronavirus: the next steps - Tuesday, May 19, 2020
- Avoid busy places and stay 1.5 metres away from others - Wednesday, May 6, 2020
- Measures to stop the spread of coronavirus extended - Tuesday, April 20, 2020
- Measures to combat coronavirus extended - Tuesday, March 31, 2020
- Stricter measures to control coronavirus - Monday, March 23, 2020
UPDATE: THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2020
UPDATE: FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020
UPDATE: SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020
Our goal at ASH is for our students to enjoy an on-campus learning experience as long as possible, ideally for the entire school year. To support this goal, we must be vigilant and follow the measures currently in place at ASH. Click here to view Dr. Lowe's video message discussing five key measures:
1/ Frequent use of our hand sanitation stations across our campuses
2/ One-way traffic throughout all buildings to help manage congregation density
3/ Optimal year-long room ventilation
4/ Masks for everyone at ASH in grade 7 and above, also on the bus
5/ Anyone with cold symptoms must stay home
For a comprehensive overview of our school protocols, visit our Learning Roadmap page. If you have questions, you may post them on the portal community pin board here. Thank you for your support and please continue to encourage your children to be vigilant and follow the measures.
To maximize the on-campus health and educational experience for all at ASH, we wish to go above and beyond the current Dutch guidelines concerning face masks, room ventilation, and quarantine requirements. Click here to view Dr. Lowe's video message discussing the following six key topics:
1/ Masks for everyone at ASH in grade 7 and above
2/ Masks for all ASH bus riders in grade 7 and above
3/ Optimal ventilation on campus
4/ Prescribed quarantine requirements for all ages
5/ Anyone with cold symptoms must stay home
6/ No parent spectators at sport events
From our Director, Dr. Lowe; I hope you have enjoyed a restful and relaxing summer and that everyone in your family is healthy and happy. We look forward to welcoming your children to the new school year soon. Adhering strictly to Dutch guidelines, we still have the green light to open fully on-campus on August 19 and we are well-equipped and ready to respond if and when conditions change. Global conditions and government responses are dynamic with frequent changes. At ASH, we will continue to follow the guidelines of the Dutch government and prioritize the health and safety of our community.
Academic and logistical preparations for the 2020-2021 school year are in full swing. We are pleased to share that our new faculty members are settling in well, including our new high school Principal David Munro and our new Director of Student Support Donna Chuula. All our new staff have arrived in the country and have completed the appropriate self-isolation protocols assuring their health and readiness to begin work. Our existing staff have likewise been required strictly to follow health guidelines.
It is absolutely critical that all families also follow all health guidelines, including the prescribed periods of self-isolation in preparation for your children to return to campus. Please faithfully monitor health in your family and stay in close touch with us at school through the various division offices to protect the health and safety of everyone in the community. Every single person must do his or her part in order to ensure we all continue to have access to our facilities and an outstanding education.
Like last year, we will maintain high quality health and safety standards. Distancing measures between adults will still be in place, as will walking traffic guidance, sanitation stations and supplies, and physical barriers to make sure children and adults are safe and healthy. Parent and visitor campus access is by invitation only from the school leadership, in accordance with government health regulations. In the coming days, we will share all the regulations, our facilities preparations, and channels for communication about health.
Concurrently, throughout the 2020-2021 school year, we will remain agile to readily adopt one of three stances on our Learning Roadmap: on-campus, blended and virtual. As the circumstances mandate, we are ready to flexibly pivot across these models ensuring the continuity of engaging and flexible learning that is responsive to the current pandemic. Each is a separate model. To be absolutely clear, we are operating with the on-campus model at this time. Each model comes with adapted social-emotional programs and child protection policies to support the mental and physical well-being of our students as they learn at school or at home. Please familiarize yourself with our Learning Roadmap here.
Once again, welcome to a new year at ASH. We remain at your service, and we look forward to an outstanding time of learning ahead. As always, thank you for the support and work together that enables us to remain strong and focused on learning even through times of uncertainty.
Last night, the Dutch government announced further easing of the COVID-19 restrictions for schools as of August. This is provided the situation remains stable and schools follow the prescribed health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. After the summer break, similar to the elementary schools, secondary schools in the Netherlands will fully resume on-campus learning, five days per week. Starting this August, secondary school students will no longer be required to practice social distancing between themselves, only with their teachers. After such announcements, we have typically been receiving further guidelines about how exactly this should be implemented; however, at present, we will immediately begin planning accordingly for the new school year.
Concretely, at ASH, this means that we will be able to maximize the use of our learning spaces and resume a complete on-campus learning experience on August 19. Concurrently, throughout the 2020-2021 school year, we will remain agile to readily adopt one of three stances on our ASH Learning Roadmap: on-campus, blended and virtual. As the circumstances mandate, we are ready to flexibly pivot across these models ensuring the continuity of engaging and flexible learning that is responsive to the current pandemic. Each model comes with adapted social-emotional programs and child protection policies to support the mental and physical well-being of our students as they learn at school or at home.
Global conditions and government responses remain dynamic with ongoing changes. At ASH, we will continue to follow the guidelines of the Dutch government and prioritize the health and safety of our community. Please keep an eye out for updates via email and on our website; we will be in touch should we have to change our approach.
Please also continue to be mindful of the Dutch government guidelines regarding travel and ensure the completion of the mandatory 2 weeks of self-isolation upon return from non-EU countries, which remains in effect. If you will be traveling back from the USA or Canada, for example, for your child to be able to attend the first day of school at ASH on August 19, under current regulations, you will have to arrive back in the Netherlands on or before August 5.
Wishing you all a healthful and refreshing continuation of your summer.
As we end a unique school year, I wish you all rest and rejuvenation, even as we know this is likely to be an atypical summer in the regular rhythm of expat life. Many will be unable to visit their home countries in the same way, and travel changes and restrictions are very much the norm now. Nonetheless, please do make sure to take time out for yourself and your family to gather energy as we move into an uncertain future. This summer, ASH will be a busy nucleus for learning, thinking and preparing for that future, even as it appears to be a moving target, even more than it usually is.
Our Summer Experience program will offer a variety of activities and learning opportunities facilitated by members of our staff across our campuses and sports fields. It’s a small way to give more opportunities to learn and interact after a season of being indoors a great deal. Further, our newly launched think tank groups will serve as innovation centers for re-thinking schools and education in light of our previous conversations about being future-ready, and also tied to our response to COVID-19 and the events currently taking place on a global scale. We are also planning campus upgrade projects, including the rehabilitation of our sports fields.
Our ASH Learning Roadmap offers an overview of what school at ASH might look like in the new school year. For the Fall 2020 semester, we will continue to provide engaging and flexible learning that is responsive to the pandemic with adapted social-emotional programs and child protection policies to support the mental and physical well-being of our students as they learn at school or at home. We are preparing to bring a blended learning experience assuming the current regulations apply, but we will be ready to adopt one of three stances: on-campus, blended, virtual.
Global conditions and government responses are dynamic with frequent changes and we will continue to follow the guidelines of the Dutch government and prioritize the health and safety of our community. We will keep everyone updated through email and our Website as developments dictate.
Projects and Strategies
Our community-developed strategy and project work initiated this past Fall has already resulted in our new mission and vision statements. Though our strategies and project publications have been delayed due to our emergency learning work, we will continue to work out the details of projects to be shared and begin next year. Well-being, mentorships, and community involvement will once again be front and center as we continually adapt to the conditions in which we must work. We look forward to the journey together.
As a community, we’ve stood strong and positive during this highly unusual year. Let’s enjoy a restful summer, stay healthy, and recharge our batteries. We look forward to seeing everyone in the new school year and wish you the very best. Let’s help each other remember that times of trial need not overwhelm us; they can also inspire us to new horizons.
Last Tuesday, we welcomed back our middle and high school students who opted to resume learning on campus through our blended learning model. The mayor of Wassenaar visited ASH that same morning and hand-delivered a cake as a token of appreciation for our staff and a gesture of gratitude for our membership in the community. “Over the past few weeks, you have put tremendous effort into preparing for the responsible ‘one and a half meter education’,” offered Mayor De Lange. “We would like to express our great appreciation and admiration for all of you who, from mid-March onwards, have pulled out all the stops to keep in touch with the students and in particular to keep teaching going remotely or via written assignments.”
This Saturday, June 6, the ASH Class of 2020 will graduate like no other class of seniors before in the history of our school. This year’s graduation ceremony will lean on the virtual elements that have served our community well during this time and will ensure that our graduating students are honored and celebrated as per tradition. Our seniors will attend their graduation ceremony in groups of up to 30 students seated across four different locations on campus and different parts of the ceremony will be hosted in each of the four spaces and live-streamed to all four locations as well as on our website for families and friends to watch.
We will also continue other end-of-year transitions unique to our ASH experience in a virtual format: grade 4 bridge crossing, grade 8 promotion, yearbook hand-outs and leavers ceremonies. And on June 8, we will be able to open the rest of our ECC and upper elementary classrooms for on-campus learning with a full schedule. There are still several government-mandated regulations in place about which activities are permitted and which are not.
A look ahead - Our ASH Roadmap
The conditions around COVID-19 and the response from the government are dynamic, and changes are frequent. We will keep you updated when substantive changes mean we must change our approach. The health and safety of our community is our top priority, and we will continue to follow the guidelines of Dutch government health and educational authorities. We will prepare for the Fall 2020 semester assuming the current regulations apply, but ready to adopt one of three stances:
1. On-campus school experience
Should the COVID-19 situation improve over the summer, and all grade and age levels are able to return to school full-time, we will do so. This is already the case for ECC and elementary school from June 8.
2. Blended learning experience
Should the current regulations continue to apply (1.5 meter distancing, for example), we will maximize the number of middle and high school students who can safely attend school in-person and continue to offer virtual learning for those who are not attending on a particular day. Elementary school students would continue to be on campus full-time. At present, this appears to be the most likely scenario; however, we will keep you updated if and when conditions change.
3. Virtual school experience
Should the COVID-19 situation deteriorate and schools be closed again, we will shift all learning to virtual, taking into account feedback we have gathered from students, staff, and families to create an even better experience than we offered this Spring.
Finally, as you prepare your summer travels, please be mindful of the Dutch government guidelines regarding travel and ensure the completion of the mandatory 2 weeks of self-isolation upon return from non-EU countries. If you will be traveling back from the USA or Canada, for example, for your child to be able to attend the first day of school at ASH on August 19, under current regulations, you will have to arrive back in the Netherlands on or before August 3.
As always, regardless of what the Fall brings, we will be in a strong position to provide rigorous learning and activity while at the same time safeguarding the health and well-being of our students and staff. Thank you for your patience, support, and on-going collaboration as we stride forward together.
We are so excited to be able to welcome about 55 percent of our Elementary School students back on campus this week. The buildings are set up with one-way directional markers, and cleaning supplies and reminders are set up throughout the UES (Upper Elementary School) and the ECC (Early Childhood Center).
Most importantly, staff members have planned fun activities to get back into the swing of things for the last few weeks of school. As some staff said to me this morning, “It’s exciting: It feels like the first day of school all over again.” We can’t wait to see kids’ smiling faces. We have also been able to meet the needs for decreased traffic, while at the same time, accommodate families who live further afield by reactivating our bus service. Buses and drivers will have special safety equipment in place, but our Elementary School learners will continue to have friendly service.
Because we saw a roughly 50 percent split between the on- and off-campus choice for the youngest learners in our survey, Elementary School was also able to add Pre-school and Transition Kindergarten students to the mix earlier than we thought. Both campuses also got special welcome back messages from the PTO in the form of beautiful chalk drawings at the entrance and exit points to add to the festivity and show gratitude to our ASH staff. We look forward to the time when we can all be on-campus together again. Elementary School leadership and staff will be constantly fine-tuning the on-campus and VLE experiences as we all learn how to bounce back from a global challenge like no other in our lifetimes. Our children will need to see us all happy and positive.
The Dutch government plans to assess the COVID-19 situation closely in light of the easing of various restrictions including the partial opening of primary schools before they make a decision about the partial opening of secondary schools. The school associations have started to release guidelines designed to protect the well-being of students and staff, and we have begun physical preparations in case they do move forward with their plans. You will hear more about this from Middle School and High School leadership and staff when the government plan is clearer. We are also examining how we can give students athletic opportunities by learning from the health and safety protocols applied to sports clubs. Though these are not specifically designed for schools, we feel many are helpful and instructive in our approach. Stay tuned for more on that.
As we have learned with the primary schools opening this week, regulations and guidelines change continuously, and every school applies them somewhat differently in their context. We thank you for your continuous support and flexibility as we endeavor to create a positive learning environment in every place we interact with students.
This has been an extraordinary school year for all of us with our families, in our workplaces, and most definitely in places of learning. Add on top of this that most in our ASH community are experiencing this in a country that is not our own, and the layers of information and emotion around this global pandemic can feel immense. The impact is even more concrete when we consider the fact some in our ASH community have lost relatives to the virus. We have been working around the clock, in regards to the best way forward given the most recent government updates and announcements, including how to accommodate the government guidelines laid out for reopening schools.
At ASH, we know our primary objective is to educate our students; however, we also know we play an important role in the life of our community, including the social and economic goals at which the Dutch school re-opening is aimed. Our teachers and administrators have, in short order, created a virtual learning model that is working better than any I have ever seen in my 30 years of working in international schools and three previous bouts of virtual schooling. The rapid turnaround to a new way of working with students has gone well. For the purposes of keeping effective, engaging learning going, we as educators have no doubt our virtual leaning environment is the clear choice of venue, in the absence of on-campus in-person instruction we think of as the “normal” situation. Add to this the fact we still have large discrepancies between groups who feel comfortable on campus and those who do not, and it is clear we must keep our virtual learning platform operating for the 25.5 school days remaining for elementary school students from May 11.
This is where the details of reopening primary schools come into play. The restrictions are considerable, yet they would still allow for students to spend some time on campus. We have been working to review feasibility for providing an on-campus experience including resource capacity and space allocations, among other considerations. We are not there yet. We have also begun preparations to procure protective equipment which, though not required, would serve to alleviate some safety concerns. We don’t yet know which regulations would apply to middle and high school, except we have been told to anticipate at least one additional stipulation: that students also must maintain 1.5 meters between them at all times.
We are currently working on the feasibility of a plan that would allow for elementary students who are comfortable in this environment to get support for their virtual learning on campus. Once we come to a conclusion on elementary, we can start to turn our attention to the last 11.5 days of middle and high school students’ school year. The government has indicated they will give further guidance to Dutch schools once they assess the impact of the gradual re-opening period of primary schools.
We want to be able to provide meaningful time at school and the chance for students to see each other. We will continue to plan and proceed with caution, knowing there are multiple considerations and people’s feelings involved. Crises bring these differences more to the surface, yet we must also remember that we can overcome when we work together. As Prime Minister Rutte said last week, we are in a phase of this pandemic in which there are more uncertainties than certainties, and being careful now is better than being sorry later. To the extent we play an important role in the life of the community, we are taking these words to heart
Following the Dutch government's latest announcement (Tuesday, April 20) regarding the re-opening of primary schools on May 11, the ASH COVID-19 response team has been working non-stop processing the on-going guidance given by the Dutch government, school associations and unions. The re-opening would affect our ECC campus and Upper Elementary through Grade 4. We have received regulations since Tuesday night about health and safety including, for example, alternating days for half a class at one time, no adults other than staff on campuses, 1.5-meter social distancing requirements, no staff in high-risk categories on campus, etc. All these guidelines require significant restructuring of our on-campus experiences. Like our Dutch school colleagues, we are working diligently to figure out the nature of the programs we would be able to offer under these conditions, aiming for a program of the highest quality, though Dutch guidelines call for a reduced educational offering.
Given a student population with some eighty nationalities, there are a number of things and factors to also consider and we are committed to providing our students, families, staff and community the best options possible at this time. We remain agile and ready to respond in the best interests of our community’s health, safety, and continued learning. Further updates on how ASH will be proceeding will be given later this week.
On March 31, schools received further guidance from the Dutch government about the timeline for campus closures. They have extended the closure of physical school campuses up to and including May 3, 2020. The government will host a press conference in the week before April 28, at which they will share more guidance on the opening of campuses.
In light of this official confirmation, ASH will offer continued learning through our virtual learning environment accordingly. As previously shared, we will continue to provide exclusively online learning until the Dutch authorities announce that school campuses in the Netherlands should re-open, and we will resume classes on campus only in concert with guidelines for public health.
On Tuesday, March 31, schools expect to receive further guidance from the Dutch government about the current measures and school closures timeline. ASH will continue to provide only online learning until the Dutch authorities announce that schools in the Netherlands should re-open, and we will resume classes on campus only in concert with guidelines for public health. For now, our Virtual Learning Environment remains active through April 6, pending further government guidance
We’re All in This Together
We know governments are changing their guidance, travel restrictions, and border situations regularly, and you may be following this news about your home country. This can cause additional stress beyond simply safeguarding one’s health. Changing travel restrictions can create a sense of urgency and indecision. This is normal. Try to remember that COVID-19 is now a global pandemic, which calls for a different response than fleeing a localized natural disaster, for example. Staying put, staying unified, and bolstering your confidence and resilience is crucial. One sure way to make yourself feel better is to do something good for someone else. Humans are wired in such a way this will help lift your own spirits too.
Following this evening’s announcement from the Dutch Government that all schools and daycares will be closed starting March 16 through April 6, tomorrow will no longer be a preparatory school day, as initially planned. Buses will not run to collect and return your child. There will be no after-school activities, athletics and private tutoring. TeddyKids, CrocoClub and the cafeteria will also be closed.
We have a well-planned strategy for online learning and we will all collaborate to make this a positive, strong learning experience as we build resilience together. Thank you for your ongoing support.