We hope you and your family remain in good health and the preparation for the close of our SY2019/2020 is going well. We will all look back on this year with strong memories and emotions that continue to test and challenge our inner spirit and resolve, deeply probe the values we stand for and reaffirm the personal and professional drivers that help us to positively fulfil our lives.

Our students are to be congratulated as they continue to rise to the challenge of living through enormous change to their daily routines and the way in which they try to make sense of what is happening across the world in terms of responses to the death of George Floyd as well as the COVID 19 pandemic. At the moment, we seem to be living in a world that is at crisis point. It isn’t the first time this has happened, but we really hope it will be the last. Recalling a similar event from the 1980’s in UK, hope can be found in knowing that since the regeneration, Broadwater Farm now has one of the lowest crime rates of any urban area in the world. Hope is an active emotion whereas optimism is passive. In other words, if you are optimistic, you simply wait, expecting that something will change in order for things to get better, whereas hope is about knowing things will improve because of the changes you make.

‘I Want to Touch the World’

At AIS our staff help our students to find hope in everything they set out to do. If we are going to hope things will improve, then we need a plan for what is going to change. Our plan at AIS is to develop a deep sense of integrity and empathy in every one of our students. Staff have worked collectively with students to devise our guiding mission and the framework for our 6 C’s – Inspiring Respect, Resilience and the ability to Think and Act Inclusively in our international environment. As a young boy, George Floyd, said ‘I Want to Touch the World’ and whatever national curriculum we are following, we cannot think of a better way to help our students to ‘touch the world’ and exemplify the pioneering spirit of internationalism and role model vital life skills that help us all to navigate difficult situations, and take positive steps to illuminate unconscious bias. By working collaboratively together on our 6 C’s, we can clearly demonstrate that we are committed to challenging ourselves to examine privilege and question how we can make changes to remove bias and barriers that get in the way of personal, academic and professional success. In so doing, and with parental support, we will continue to provide meaningful learning experiences for our students.

For those of you who feel brave enough to test out your own unconscious bias, you might like to take a look at this research site from Harvard University. In their Project Implicit, they are undertaking a piece of research which looks at unconscious bias across a number of different areas – race, religion, gender, to name but a few. Anyone who completes one of the tests will contribute to their research but will also be given a score, along with an explanation of what it means in terms of their own bias in a given area. As they say in their material, the interesting outcomes are the unexpected ones – for example, when a vocal feminist showed bias when she consistently categorised scientists as male!

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AIS News

On Friday we congratulated and wished the Class of 2020 well for the future in what was a unique and successful Graduation ceremony. It was so special listening to all the personal advice staff shared with Graduates and to see the personalised effort that made the occasion so special and memorable for the Class of 2020. We also had the privilege to welcome General Jörg Vollmer, the new Commander of JFC HQ Brunssum who was very impressed with the international provision and opportunities on offer at AIS. He has promised to visit us again in the new school year and share his experiences with our students. Out-processing continues next week and all efforts to follow the restrictions currently in place to stay at home if you feel unwell, maintain social distancing, wear masks/mouth caps if moving around the building, and to wash hands frequently is appreciated.

COVID 19 Update

Firstly, continued appreciation is expressed to our parents who, like staff, continue to rise to the challenge of new ways of learning at home and being flexible in employing creative ways of engaging and motivating students in meaningful learning experiences. We recognise that this has been a juggling act for many against the backdrop of personal challenges at individual and family levels. Thank you also to our AIS LWR staff who have continued to work through this pandemic to ensure our school building remains a safe environment and ready for our full return. Preparations continue for the reopening of our school with mobile hand sanitizer stations placed around the building and hand towels replacing the hand dryers. If visiting, please heed the one way directional signs to maintain social distancing restrictions that remain in force and be aware that our work on adapting our learning environment to manage and meet the restrictions in place continues to evolve. As previously communicated the Management Team has been meeting regularly since distance learning commenced. The risk assessment we have been discussing is detailed and lengthy!

Reopening in August 2020 – School year 2020/2021

On behalf of the Board of Governors who have been meeting regularly, the Directorate want to reassure parents that we are on track to re-opening AIS in August. Recognising that the situation continues to evolve at pace, our planning at the moment is targeted at following Host Nation guidance and restrictions. For this to happen, the Board of Governors has asked all national sections to prepare their classrooms for significant decluttering, allowing for all students to attend classes and maintain social distancing. We are expecting school to fully reopen – but a ‘new normal’ in terms of social distancing, mask wearing when moving around the building and when social distancing is not possible, new movement routes/zones around the building and routines will be in place for all of us to follow. There will be a key role and expectations for families in supporting the safe re-opening of our school and further information on what and how this will look like will be communicated nearer to our opening. Alongside this planning, a contingency model, following a 50/50% plan is being prepared; however, the Board members emphasise that this contingency model would only be implemented if the Host Nation situation context changes dramatically before we open.

You will appreciate that an enormous amount of meetings, negotiating and discussions have been held and continue to take place between five national bodies, the various groups directly involved such as cleaning teams, nurses, bus coordinators and contractors, in order to ensure everything is in place for returning in August. We will continue to offer bus transportation and a meal service although this will ‘look different’ in terms of routines and behaviours to be followed. We want to emphasise, that this situation continues to evolve at pace, and it is therefore too early to distribute the exact protocols and procedures that will be implemented and operative by mid-August. We would like to reassure parents that our planning is thorough and covers maintaining a healthy school environment for all. The Board of Governors and the Management Team are working on a number of new procedures that will need to be followed as they specifically address ‘new routines for movement around the building, transportation, monitoring health, working in zoned areas and what to do if a case of COVID 19 is suspected. Each national section is working on their own planning for instruction and their response to COVID 19 with their staff teams and they will communicate this with their parents, again, nearer to the time of opening. The Board of Governors will continue to meet over July and August and will be able to update on planning as it responds to context and information as it comes on line to be released. A further update for parents will be available during the first week of August when all nations have announced their return to school plans and this communication will be posted on our website.

Vacation Works and Developments

A number of planned works will be occurring over the summer. Our Home Economics Room will be renovated and works on the Elementary School playground is also planned but is awaiting final confirmation. Another round of 24 new IT smart boards will be installed to continue to provide state of the art IT resources and access for all students across the school. We are also in the final stages of rewiring the main building with the introduction of fiber-optic cabling throughout the school, and this work it will resume when contractors are allowed back to work. The painting of all corridors and stair wells will be taking place and another 12-bathroom renovations will be completed.

Update Roadworks/Buses Arrivals and Exits in August

The roadworks will continue throughout the summer months and we have recently been informed will remain until October. This is due to unforeseen sewage repairs that need to be urgently addressed. This will mean we have a double challenge of buses having restrictions with arrival and exiting the school and students and staff entering and exiting the building maintaining social distancing. It will impact on start and finish times and anyone who drives/collects their children to/from school.

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available. In the meantime, best wishes for a final week of SY19/20 and we very much look forward to seeing our students in August and working in partnership with you on the ‘new collaborative normal’. Keep safe and well as we continue to be thankful for all we have.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie,
Quoted in “Simple Abundance”, by Sarah Ban Breathnach

The Directorate

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