AN IB WORLD SCHOOL

JAMIE'S UPDATE: SGS RE-OPENING PLANs announced

August 11, 2020

Dear SGS Community,
 

Since our closure in March, we have been planning and implementing multiple scenarios for re-opening Saint George’s School.  In March, we looked forward to the warmer months and summer to flatten the curve, only to see cases spike in Spokane and around the country. I have worked closely with the administrative team, teachers and the Board of Trustees in the planning process as guidance has continued to evolve and change in regard to the quandary of opening schools during this pandemic. There have been vigorous discussions weighing all available information, there has been optimism and pessimism, but everyone was working together to make the right decision about the start of school. 

Based on the science of the COVID-19 virus and existing data, the Washington Department of Health, the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) and the Governor have strongly recommended for schools to begin the year remotely. With the support and approval of the Board, Saint George’s School will follow that guidance and start K-12 in a Distance Learning model. 

This is not what we were expecting in March or even in July.  Everyone associated with the school wants to be back in-person.  At the same time, we have a duty to our students, employees and families to provide an environment that is safe for learning and teaching.  At this time, we must rely on the health officials’ expertise.  The current conditions and case count do not provide the level of safety to begin in-person instruction.  We have an obligation to our community during this health crisis to act responsibly and limit the transmission of COVID-19, so we can resume in-person school sooner than later.  We have a very narrow margin of error from the SRHD, if there are one or two positive cases (which is likely based on what we are seeing around the country as schools re-open) with a student and/or employee we would be forced to remote learning.  Furthermore, to go against this recommendation could impact how quickly we could transition to in-person instruction when we are able. 

As I have stated previously, the complexity of this decision is immense.  In addition to the safety and well-being of our community, other considerations include: new laws and legal obligations, liability, employment practices, transportation challenges, facilities, technology, OSPI requirements, State Board of Education requirements, SGS reputation, Governor’s proclamations, Department of Health Guidelines, professional development for teachers and a focus on delivering the exceptional SGS education in-person, remotely and in hybrid models.  Not to sound trite, but this is part of the new normal for now.

We will now devote our energy and resources to starting school in Distance Learning. Next week, we will send out our back to school information packets.  This will include information for assigning technology to students in grades 2-8, and it will provide IT training and orientation for devices and for the learning platforms.  We will also plan orientation for our new students.  These plans are being coordinated and will be communicated by division heads.  The week of August 31 will look different than originally planned.

We are still about 3 weeks from the start of school and COVID-19 cases seem to be on a downward trend.  We will be closely monitoring this data and will move to in-person learning as soon as possible.  Today, as the situation continues to change on a daily basis, Superintendent Chris Reykdal shared the Washington Department of Health’s newly released Decision Tree for re-opening schools that will provide additional guidance and metrics to re-open. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DecisionTree-K12schools.pdf 

I am hopeful and optimistic that we can return to in-person learning as soon as we can do so in a responsible manner.  Our buildings are ready, our teachers are ready and are students are ready.  I am confident we will deliver the best online instruction in the region based on our teachers’ commitment to their students, their training and their own high standards.  

The SGS Re-opening Plan is posted on the website’s Parent Portal to provide more information and the details of how we will move forward and serve our students.

Thank you for your support and patience over the last several months and going forward in these difficult times.

Sincerely,

Jamie Tender
Head of School

 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: RE-opening PLAN FOR FALL

June 30, 2020

Dear SGS Community,
 
Happy early 4th of July!  I hope you and your families are able to enjoy the upcoming weekend and safely enjoy captivating fireworks.  June has been a busy month with preparations for the new school year.  Our Task Force and Working Groups have met and produced recommendations for the coming year.  We are still in the process of completing the final document and guidelines as we establish our SGS plan to address the nuances of this pandemic situation.  The ability to be nimble and flexible as well as mitigating the risk of spreading the COVID-19 Virus to keep everyone safe add to the complexity of our overall planning... Read More
 
 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: planning for fall

June 22, 2020

I hope your summer is off to a good start and you and your kids are enjoying the break now that summer has officially started.  Enjoy the sunshine and warm weather this week.
 
Just a couple of updates regarding our fall planning.  The SGS Re-opening Task Force and working groups continue to develop plans for the 20-21 school year and we hope to finalize and share them by the end of June.  We are integrating the OSPI, the Department of Health and the Spokane Regional Health District’s guidance and directives as part of the SGS Re-Opening plan.  Based on our enrollment and our facilities, we feel we are able to meet the compliance standards set forth at this time for an in-person start. Since the release of the OSPI Re-opening Guidelines, several points have been clarified...  Read More 
 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: learn, listen & act

June 8, 2020

Dear SGS Community,

I heard back from a few people about where we go next in addressing racism, violence and intolerance.  For the last several years, there has been increased attention and conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion topics at Saint George’s.  Many of the topics and discussions have been brought forward in the Upper School community and are a result of student action-oriented engagement with societal issues.  As a K-12 school, there is a ripple effect among all divisions of the school when these topics are raised.  

The topics of racism and intolerance, and privileged and marginalized populations have been discussed and debated in workshops and forums.  The Diversity Club arranged for a speaker, George Lee, to speak with the Upper School students and K-12 faculty last year on race and bias.  That jump started an informed conversation, as Mr. Lee was engaging, thought-provoking and challenged the status quo in our little school.  It was a start at analyzing our community through different lenses that was unfortunately delayed when the pandemic hit. ...Read More

 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: Confronting Racism

June 1, 2020

Dear SGS Families,
This past week has been one of the most challenging and troubling that I can remember.  The senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery has brought many Americans together in protest and solidarity across the country and in Spokane.  Their deaths have caused grief, frustration, fear, and anger across the nation.  

I am at a loss to find the adequate words to denounce these actions, and to capture all my thoughts and feelings as I process this situation. I continue to listen, learn and think about what I can do to contribute to the change that is needed and long overdue in our country.  I feel particularly for our students, families and friends of color.  I continue to seek better understanding of and perspective on their life experience.  I am hopeful our nation can work together to rid racism and intolerance from our society, and I know our school community will be a part of that work.  Read More

 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: finishing strong

May 26, 2020

Dear SGS Parents,

Welcome to Phase 2 in Spokane!  I hope you were able to enjoy some rest and relaxation over the long weekend.  We are now just 8 days until the end of the 2020 Distance Learning experience.  I am expecting a strong finish to the school year with some “new angles” on the end of year experiences.  Be sure to check the Division Heads’ letters for details.

In my 16 years at Saint George’s, I have never been prouder to be a part of this extraordinary school. SGS is defined by people, the relationships we form between us, and the ways those relationships shape our lives.  Over the last couple of months, the school’s administrators have been focused on helping our community manage this crisis and run a school.  There is still more work to be done for this year and planning is already underway for next year.  I want to emphasize that our goal is to begin the year in-person, and we will do everything required on our part to make that a possibility.  I am hopeful the re-opening process across the state will enable positive developments for schools such as SGS going forward.   Read More
 

JAMIE'S UPDATE: FUN RUN & DL Survey

May 18, 2020,

Dear SGS Parents,
This is a four-day week of classes with a long Memorial Day weekend before our final “push” towards the end of the school year.  This past weekend was highlighted by the SGS Virtual Fun Run and the far-reaching participation of Dragons across the globe.  Thank you again to SGS Upper School Teacher, Rachel Hildie, for creating this community event.  It was heartwarming to see the SG Spirit come through in pictures posted to the various social media pages.  We all miss our community gatherings and events that make the SGS experience so special.  Go Dragons!

There is a great deal going on behind the scenes as school continues, so let me give a brief update:

Thank you to all of our families that took time to answer the May Distance Learning survey.  This provides very helpful information for our consideration and direction!!  We had 110 completed surveys and each division was well-represented in the responses.  We are still analyzing and applying results.   Read More
 

Jamie's Update: Planning for fall

May 11, 2020

Dear SGS Families,

Today, as I update you on plans at Saint George’s, I again want to express my gratitude for your flexibility and patience as we adapt to the changing circumstances related to the COVID-19 crisis. We have experienced a great disruption in the ways our community engages, and I appreciate your effort and resilience. We will have more challenges ahead, and I am confident we will continue to confront them with a spirit of unity and grace.

I encourage you to read through the updates on our weekly email sent out on Mondays for highlights still ongoing within our community.  Our social media pages are being updated almost daily with uplifting news.  

For now, I want to share more information and details about planning for this fall, that continues to be a primary focus...  Read More

 

Jamie's Update: Planning Scenarios

May 4, 2020
Dear SGS Parents,
Each passing day provides some insight into what the new “normal” might look like for schools and the Spokane community.  I stress “might” because, since the beginning of the pandemic, we have all been operating in unknowns and best guess scenarios.  As a school steeped in tradition, we mourn each special event as it unceremoniously passes with the other cancellations.  Navigating the loss, creating the present and planning for the future are all part the current quandary.  I am sure many of you have seen stories regarding plans for universities and schools in the fall.  For the 2020-21 academic year, Saint George’s is creating multiple plans to address a variety of situations as well... Read More

 

Jamie's UPdate: Distance learning & well being

April 27, 2020
Dear Friends,
I hope you are remaining healthy and enjoying the warmer weather.  Yesterday provided a welcomed excuse to get outside and be active.  The Nine Mile Falls area was beautiful and the views overlooking the river were breathtaking.  Enjoy the four-day school week ahead and more importantly enjoy a little break on Friday, May 1 and the three-day weekend.  Our next break is May 22 and that will provide for a four-day weekend over Memorial Day!

During the last two weeks we have focused on providing more structure and routine around the Distance Learning platform at SGS.... Read More
 

Jamie's Update: COVID-19 & Education

April 20, 2020
Dear Friends,
With each passing day on campus, I discover something new or something I haven’t appreciated in the past.  Yesterday, I noticed several of the cherry trees popping as their blooms were so vibrant against the emerging spring backdrop.  I have attached a picture of the tree just below the MS basketball court.  It was beautiful to see and you can just imagine the low hum of the bees discovering the fresh blossoms.  I wish the picture would have had students walking past the tree on their way to PE . . . next year! 
 
Last week, the teachers and administrative team spent a great deal of time working through additional structuring of our Distance Learning approach at each grade, division and departmental level... Read More

 

Jamie's Update: DL Survey

April 13, 2020
Dear Friends,
I hope you all were able to enjoy “Spring Break” and a little down time.  I also hope for those celebrating, that Passover and Easter were joyous occasions.  In talking with friends and colleagues, it sounds as though some virtual get-togethers may not have happened if not for these special circumstances.  I hope these silver linings made for a special time for your family.  I know my daughters enjoyed the traditional Easter Egg hunt at our house and they are now both in their 20’s... Read More 

 

Jamie's Update: School closed until fall

April 6, 2020
Dear SGS Community,

Today we heard the news that Washington state would be joining fourteen other states in closing in-person school for the remainder of the academic year.  That was anticipated, but still not the news anyone wanted to hear.  For SGS, that means we will extend the learning horizon to June and spend more time refining our approaches to Distance Learning (DL).  The first three weeks have been a steep learning curve for everyone taking part in DL and we will learn from that experience.  Fortunately, we have a strong network of professional development resources internally and externally that we have relied on and will continue to do so for the next eight weeks... Read More

 

Jamie's Update: Words of encouragement

March 30, 2020

Dear SGS Community,
 
I hope everyone is staying healthy and navigating this crisis as well as possible.  This situation continues to be complex and ever-changing.  You can be assured we are doing our best on the SGS educational front.  Now starting our third week of distance learning, I have been proud of our teachers and their efforts to engage with students and provide ongoing lessons/content/support for the students (and parents) across our K-12 program.  Thank you for all of the words of encouragement and gratitude you have been sharing with the teachers and administrators.  ...Read More
 

 

Jamie's Update on Distance Learning

March 20, 2020

Dear SGS Friends,
 
SGS Distance Learning Week #1 is off and running.  I want to begin by recognizing our teachers’ excellent work.  They had a big challenge setting up remote learning platforms and they have stepped up mightily in a relatively short period of time.  The Division Heads and I have received many emails of appreciation and we have forwarded them on to our teachers as often and quickly as possible.  These emails of good news and positive feedback have taken the place of the wonderful PA Appreciation Luncheons.  Thank you to our wonderful parents for your appreciation, patience and support of our faculty and staff during these difficult times.  It makes a difference as everyone is putting forth Best Efforts!  ...Read More
 
 

MESSAGE TO PARENTS

 
March 14, 2020
 
Dear SGS Community,
 
We are all headed into unchartered territory for at least the next six weeks.  This will be a time for all in our community to exhibit patience, empathy, strength and grace as we all work together to make the best of a bad situation. Let me take the opportunity to share a few thoughts and then provide a short-term road map going forward.  ...Read More
 
 

RESOURCES

• CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• WA State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/
• Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction: https://www.k12.wa.us/