Welcome Back, Families!

Welcome Back, Families!
Director’s Welcome Back message

It is a genuine pleasure to welcome back our students, families and staff for the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year.  Since we finished classes on June 17, ASV has been a beehive of activity with a very successful Summer Program in July, some upgrades to our campus facility, the arrival and onboarding of our new faculty and staff, a New Family Orientation, Meet the Teacher events in Preschool, and our faculty and staff making the final arrangements to warmly welcome students back to school on Monday, September 6, 2021. 

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASV has continued to experience success on multiple levels. As we prepare to start a new academic year, please take a few moments of your time to read through this letter in order that you have the opportunity to know just how fortunate we are to be members of the ASV community.   

Looking back on 2020-2021, we were delighted with our Grade 12, Class of 2020’s academic results where they earned an 8.38 average on the Spanish Pruebas de Competencias Específicas (PCE) exams, which was the third highest result in ASV history.  Additionally, the Grade 12, Class of 2020 IB cohort earned an impressive 36.28 average which is the highest IB result in the school’s history since ASV was authorized to offer the IB Diploma Program in 2004.  So, our heartfelt congratulations to the Class of 2020, their families, and our faculty and staff. These exemplary results are the product of many years of hard work, sacrifices and dedication. 

As we begin 2021-2022, we will begin with the largest student enrollment in ASV’s illustrious 41 year history with almost 900 students.  The demand in admissions to enroll in ASV across all grades levels has been tremendous, and unfortunately, several hundred students are still in the Waiting Pool.  However, along with this enrollment growth, ASV has also contracted additional staff in order to support our students, including additional faculty for Elementary and Secondary Spanish, Creative Arts and IB Business Management . . . to name just a few.  So, we feel well-prepared to support our students to continue a model of sustained academic excellence.

Sadly, COVID-19 continues to offer a multitude of challenges, as well as hardships, illnesses and family loss across the globe. Notwithstanding these challenges, ASV is prioritizing in-person learning, in compliance with all governmental requirements. In-person and onsite learning provides a nurturing and stimulating academic and social environment for students. A full-time, in-person and onsite schedule provides students with consistency and support throughout the school year. We believe students can have a healthy and safe year with ongoing vaccinations of children, strict masking and physical distancing guidelines, other mitigation measures and of course, your cooperation.  

If you or any family member are eligible to be vaccinated and have not yet done so, please know that getting vaccinated now will have a positive impact on the ability of schools to run smoothly this year. Lowering rates of community viral transmission decreases the likelihood that COVID-19 enters the school and childcare settings in our communities. Our students, families and educators deserve a healthy school year with minimal disruptions. So, you and others can make a difference by getting vaccinated. This is no small effort, and it will require continued careful attention to the mitigation strategies that we know work: vaccinations, staying home when sick, PCR testing, ample ventilation, sanitary and cleaning measures, physical distancing, use of hand sanitizer and proper masking. 

Please allow me to be clear that keeping the school environment safe and limiting disruptions to the school year is not just the job of the school and its staff. It also requires consistent attention from home and the community at large.  For parents of children under 12 years of age who are waiting for their children to be eligible for vaccination — I feel for you. The best way to protect your children from the virus is to ensure that those around them, especially adults, are vaccinated.  All students and staff, vaccinated or not, should stay home when sick and get tested for COVID-19.

We are more than a year and a half into this pandemic and we’ve learned a lot about effective mitigation strategies. Masking is a simple and effective tool that reduces the spread of COVID-19, as well as other respiratory viruses that can mimic the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Students and staff wore masks throughout the school year last year in the classrooms and on buses. Continuing the practice makes good, common sense as we start school again in the fall. Masking is an important (and required) layer of protection in schools and in public. As we learn more about the potential transmission of COVID-19 among vaccinated people, it makes sense to continue universal masking while we wait for younger children to have the opportunity to be vaccinated as soon as public health authorities permit.  

So, how should parents prepare for the new school year?

  • Stock up on masks. The best mask is the one your child will actually wear. Let your child help you pick out the patterns and colors they like best.
  • Have a backup plan for sick and quarantine days. If your child wakes up with a cough and nasal congestion or is a close contact, they will have to be tested for COVID-19 and stay home until symptoms are resolved. This will be challenging for most families. 
  • Be prepared for changing guidance from governmental and health authorities. Recommendations change because variables change during a pandemic. It can be frustrating but at the same time we should be reassured when public health guidance changes in response to what’s going on around us.
  • Look to your child’s medical provider for guidance. Despite our best efforts at prevention, some of our unvaccinated children may still be infected with COVID-19. This is frustrating because at this point in the pandemic it feels preventable. Frustrations aside, if it happens — take a deep breath. We are here for you and your family. Your child’s healthcare provider will guide you through the illness and help you through the back-to-school and return-to-play process. 

I want to end on a hopeful note. Despite all of the uncertainty, our faculty, staff and I are very much looking forward to this new academic year.  We are excited to see our students learn, grow and mature into respectful, caring and contributing global citizens.  We know they will gain so much from being around their peers and educators. We have also learned that school is the right place for ASV students to be, and we believe that we can do this successfully. 

As a thoughtful last reminder, please know that all of our teachers, teaching assistants, school nurses, support staff and administrators are already working hard to prepare for the school year. Your patience, understanding and appreciation for the world-class professionals who educate and care for your children will go a long way as we begin this new academic year.

Thank you for reading and have a truly wonderful year.  See you on Monday!

With all best wishes,

 

Michael L. Smith
Director
American School of Valencia

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