This week we welcomed back grades 9 and 11. And, we look forward to Monday morning when we will add Grades 4-8.
During this time, we continue to function as a community with health and safety as our number one focus. To maintain the community’s commitment to safety, it means that each of us has a responsibility to monitor ourselves and be diligent about our environment.
Please read the important information below.
Wishing you and your family a safe and restful weekend.
Derek Luebbe Head of School
Throughout this process, communication is a key component. Towards that end, I want to share with you a few updates and resources.
Shanghai Education Commission (SEC) requirements regarding children at school who have a fever, diarrhea or have vomited.
Requirements for families should your child exhibit any of these symptoms while outside school
Updated information on which Daily QR codes are accepted by SCIS. (We follow the SEC requirements for this process as well.)
On Tuesday, May 12, Ms. Gale, Dr. Volpe, and I led a Parent Informational Webinar to preview the Return to Campus process for parents and students in Grades 4-8. We recorded this webinar, and you can view it from our RTC Parent Portal
Yesterday, Ms. Gale led efforts to create a very helpful Welcome Back Video to preview our school day for parents and students who are returning on Monday. A similar video was shared by Dr. Volpe as well. This video is provides a great example to showcase that school may not look and feel the “same” as it did in January, it is still no less a learning community. Enjoy a look at life inside SCIS the past few days.
Summer School Announcement
We are pleased to announce the next steps in our Summer School Program. Please see the attached MS Word Summer School Information document for more information.
The deadline to sign up to express your interest in the program is May 22. Based upon registration and student interest, we will share more information about the specific programs being offered later in May, allowing you to confirm your spot in the Program by May 31.
Well, this week, our campus finally became a school again! It was only for 3 days and it only involved Grades 10 and 12, but it was so pleasing to see students walking, talking, laughing, and interacting (with safe distance!)
On Monday May 11, we welcome back Grades 9 and 11. And, on May 18, we welcome back Grades 4-8.
I am sure are many questions within our community. Our goal within this blog post is to share information a few more pictures and images to help share our new normal. It is certainly different, but it’s already apparent that we can find creative ways to keep our spirit and community alive – and still continue to maintain safety as our top priority. We will be safe because we will do so together. Our sense of community has never been as important as it is now – when we must think even more about how our individual actions impact those around us. Thankfully, we’ve always had a conscientious community and we will continue to leverage that to end our year safely and successfully.
The most important resource for parents is our Parent Portal webpage: Return to Pudong Campus. On it, you will find videos, pictures, safety guidelines and procedures, and mandatory steps students/families must take to ensure a safe return-to-campus experience for everyone.
For those of you who were unable to attend last Monday’s Parent Webinar with Dr. Volpe and me, I am highlighting a few important pieces of information from that webinar. (These are also on the Return to Pudong Campus webpage.)
Returning To School Checklist
There is a mandatory Online Form which needs to be filled out to share health information for the five days prior to a student’s start date. Here is a link to that form.
2. Each day, students will have to present the following information to be allowed on the school bus and to enter the campus. – A Green Shanghai QR Health Code with “today’s” date on it. – A completed Daily Student Health Card (which includes a morning temperature check)
I am well aware that the rest of the year will not be as it was in January, and that many challenges still lie ahead. The school is different. The schedule and learning is different. On a fundamental level, our purpose is different. But I am reassured by all that I see in the last three days to know that our school will continue to be a place of learning and community.
I’m appreciative of the opportunity to play a part in the lives of our students’ in such an important part of their lives.
I wish each of you a restful weekend, and I look forward to seeing even more students back on campus next week.
Derek Luebbe Head of School
During the webinar, if you have health, safety, or other general questions you’d like to us to address, we opened up an Online Question Form for parents to share their questions.
Please review our information materials and the Parent Portal. If you still have questions, we are re-sharing that link here to help us better address questions you or your child may have.
Please note: Do not expect a personal response. If you have a personal question about your child’s experience please write to your teacher or Principal.
Well, the day has finally arrived ! (Or, it’s just around the corner.)
After a long absence, we are just days away from welcoming students back to SCIS Pudong. It will be quite a day.
Our collective health and safety remain our top priority and we are committed to working through the Return-To-Campus process in a methodical, safe, and transparent way. In this spirit, I am sharing with each of you a link to our Return-To-Campus Procedures so that you can familiarize yourself your child’s eventual return. You will find videos, photos, and detailed procedures to ensure we keep everyone’s health and safety in mind.
Although each grade level will start at a different intervals, this will be a community effort. Working together, we will ensure that everyone in our SCIS community: students, parents, drivers, secretaries, teachers, assistants, guards, ayis, support staff, cleaners, administrators, cooks, etc. make this a Community effort. We will succeed because we will do so together.
I leave you with a copy of my emailed letter from Wednesday night which includes more details regarding our return. On behalf of Dr. Volpe, Ms. Gale and our entire faculty and staff, we are very excited to see everyone once again and be together as a community.
Our students health and well-being will be our priority – now and always.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend and hoping you are able to spend some time in the wonderful Shanghai Spring weather.
Repeat of Mr. Luebbe’s Email from April 29
Dear SCIS Pudong Parents,
We are excited to share this email with all of you because we can now see the light at the end the tunnel. We are busy planning for our eventual return to campus!
As Mr. Eschtruth’s email shared on April 26 states, we will welcome back students by grade levels according to the following schedule.
Grades 10 & 12: Wednesday, May 6
Grades 9 & 11: Monday, May 11
Grades 4-8: Monday, May 18
All other grade levels will have return to campus announcements made once we have confirmation from the SEC and District Educational Bureaus.
The administrative team has been at school this week preparing to welcome students in Grades 10 and 12 on May 6. Our entire faculty will return to school on Monday May 4.
The process of re-starting our school year after such a significant event, will not be easy. Schools, like all organizations, will need to adjust to a new normal. Our new normal will prioritize health and safety first and foremost. We also recognize that returning to school will require our focused attention on the social and emotional well-being of our students, parents, and faculty.
It is clear there will be some anxiety. But we will work through this process safely because we will do it together. And, we work through this process together, because we will make a commitment to each other’s safety.
You have already received an introductory video from Mr. Eschtruth to preview our new reality and the steps we will take to ensure that safety remains our top priority.
We will be creating a number of guidelines and procedures for the Pudong Campus, and I will share those with you in my blog post tomorrow.
Dr. Volpe and I want to invite all parents and students in grades 9-12 to an online meeting for the SCIS PD Return-To-Campus Orientation on Monday at 3:30 pm. A separate email will be coming very shortly from Dr. Volpe with an invitation to the online meeting.
We will be repeating these meetings for additional grade levels in the near future to ensure that we are going through the Return-To-Campus process together, by being informed and unified in our approach.
The campus, the school day, and the mindset of everyone will be different than it was in January. Yet, on behalf of the entire faculty, I know we are excited to see the campus alive with learning, rekindled relationships and laughter in just a few short days.
Today’s update is a special one of course. It includes a short update regarding our Return to Campus. And, it includes the full text of the important emails shared earlier today regarding my departure from SCIS this June. I again share those communications here, and thank you all once again for the memories and progress we have made.
As a reminder, May 1 is a school holiday. There will be no school for students and staff on this day.
Return To Campus
SCIS, along with all other international schools in Shanghai, have received additional clarification from the Shanghai Educational Commission on our next steps. We now understand that May 6th is identified as a date by which we should be operationally ready for a return to campus, having completed all mandatory preparation work, and submitted our application for the inspection.
We still do not have a specific timeline for our return-to-campus learning which would include students and teachers. If we learn of a date, we will share this with all of you. In the meantime, we will focus on that which we can control and continue our efforts toward complying with all requirements for the operational and planning requirements for our eventual return. We stand ready to complete all required actions once a return-to-campus learning date is established.
Thank you for your ongoing understanding and patience as we continue through this situation together.
I write to share some important information with each of you in tandem with the announcement from our Director of Schools, Dan Eschtruth.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the financial projections for schools all around the world; SCIS is no exception to this.
Due to upcoming budget shortfall, I agreed to take a one-year sabbatical for 2020-21 school year I will continue to work through to the end of this academic year. Beyond that, I am considering my professional options and what that may mean for my family. Given the situation, steps like these are an unfortunate reality to ensure SCIS continues to meet the needs of our students and remains financially responsible.
The adjustments to the Pudong Campus leadership structure for the 2020-21 school year are detailed in the accompanying letter from Mr. Eschtruth.
On a personal level, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you.
My time leading the Pudong Campus has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences in my life. I’m very proud of what we have built, and what we continue to build.
I have always appreciated SCIS’s focus on finding success for each individual child. This focus makes us unique, and it’s also the common thread that builds our community.
It is this community I will truly miss:
· the students who come into school each day with a smile (usually),
· the dedicated faculty who come up with creative ways to meet students’ needs, and challenge each other (and me) to be better each day. I respect them greatly.
· the parents who work with us as partners in order to support students in pursuit of a shared goal.
I am hopeful that my next professional experience will provide the same level of satisfaction.
In the last four years, the school has successfully overcome so many challenges. Whatever the future brings to SCIS Pudong, I do want to share my sincere thanks for having welcomed me and giving me the honor to lead. I’ve been lucky to come to work each day be surrounded by this international environment and people within it.
I wish nothing but the best for all of you and for SCIS. Go Dragons.
Let me start by wishing each of you a restful upcoming Spring Break. Virtual Learning will resume March 30th.
I know it is not the break that any of us envisioned months ago, but it is certainly needed. The past seven weeks are hard to put into words. As a school community, with little notice, we have created an entire virtual learning model. It has not gone without challenges; we’ve had to make adjustments along the way, and we will continue to do so. But it is has been an outstanding accomplishment by our entire community – to make something so complex work for our students. The past two months have challenged our flexibility, ingenuity and resilience but we’ve made it work through everyone’s dedication to students. Our community is due for a much needed break. Do ensure you rest, relax, take care of yourself, and find the time to connect with your family and friends. Above all stay safe.
In the past few weeks, I have been contacted by more than a few offers from educational companies who are sharing their resources free of charge with students impacted by campus closures. Here is a useful site that has compiled and shared many of them for those families who might wish to learn more.
This past week I returned to work from the unfortunate loss of my father, John Luebbe. He passed away suddenly but peacefully in his sleep on March. He was a fantastic man, and my family had so much to celebrate about his life. I want to say a thank you to our faculty for the emotional support they provided during this time, and a special thank you to Dr. Volpe and Ms. Gale who stepped up in my absence. As a school community, we celebrate the good times and support each other through the difficult times. I feel very fortunate.
Today, you will receive a parent update from Dan Eschtruth. While we see progress regarding the virus within China, many other countries are now struggling to contain its spread – bringing a whole new set of challenges to those returning. It has brought a whole perspective to how we are all a part of a connected, global community.
It is hard to believe that it has been five weeks since we last saw each other. The situation continues to challenge us, and hopefully bring out the best in our resourcefulness, perseverance, and empathy. I know that everyone in our community -faculty, students, and parents – are working extra hours to help support student learning. I remain appreciative, grateful… and tired. But we will come through this period as a stronger community, and as stronger individuals. My wife Laurie and I have already shared many discussions about how special and celebratory it will be when we are all able to be together again.
In the last few weeks, thanks to the feedback of teachers, parents, and students we continue to adjust our program to increase our opportunities for interaction. Teachers are increasing our use of features such as Live Learning sessions, online office hours, and virtual class meetings. We believe these methods increase learning and continue to foster the contentedness and relationships which make up our SCIS community, an increasingly important aspect as our time apart grows.
Today, all parents will receive another check-in survey from the Principal(s). We appreciate your input in helping us better understand and support students.
No matter where we are geographically located, this event has brought on new challenges that each of us must navigate. Our SCIS community provides an important opportunity to support one another.
I continue to refer everyone to our SCIS Parent FAQ webpage where you can review all of our COVID19 resources, information, and updates from SCIS Director of Schools, Dan Eschtruth – including today’s email update to all parents.
I ask for your continued patience as we proceed through this unique period in time.
We conclude our second week of virtual learning, and I continue to be immensely proud of our faculty, students, and parents. It’s clear that the expectations and professional tone set in the first weeks by the faculty and Principals has been supported and adopted by the parents and students. I know the last few weeks of learning have not been without challenges and hard work, but it does reinforce our shared commitment to students.
Our second week did see a shift into smoother learning routines. Thank you.
We recognize that while the second week gave us a better sense of routines, we are still seeking to improve our shared understand of how to best support students within the virtual learning environment. I am proud of our Principals for seeking your continued input along the way with the surveys that went out today. Please take a moment to share your thoughts about the second week.
In regards to school policies and updates regarding the closure and health situation, I am choosing to direct parents to the SCIS Parent FAQ Page which contains all of our communications from Director of Schools Dan Eschtuth along with other useful information.
Our closure has also brought challenges to our lives beyond the academic. I want to encourage parents to explore the FAQ page for the newly added social/emotional resources from our counseling department to help students and families during this time.
I know that we will greatly value our time together once we return, and I look forward to that day.
I wish each of you health and safety during this time.
Our period of school closure has been a time of great anxiety and uncertainty for everyone in our community. Our students, our parents, our faculty have been thrust into a brand new learning environment in the midst of struggling with the endless personal challenges confronting each of us regarding health, safety, travel, and the potential separation from loved ones.
I cannot share enough how impressed I have been with our faculty for their flexibility, creativity, professionalism and work ethic as they create meaningful learning activities, and sustain a personal connection with students. In times like these, it is important to maintain that sense of community to keep the learning personal and relevant. Each of us, no matter where we are located, are a member of a classroom and the SCIS Community. Our children know that their teachers are there with them throughout this time.
I can promise you, we are working very hard to make this a period of meaningful learning and an opportunity to build our SCIS Community. I am so appreciative of the parent and faculty feedback thus far. To be sure, learning in an online environment is different; it poses many more challenges and frustrations. But I have seen so much flexibility from parents, students and teachers as we work through the inevitable bumps. It’s reassuring.
Not every day will be easy, and a child’s reaction to the school closure can manifest itself in many different ways. If you find that the situation is getting stressful for you or your child, please remember to reach out to your divisional counselor for advice and resources.
One of the best ways we can successfully navigate this time of uncertainty is to make sure we keep our community informed. You may have noticed that you have not heard from me much during this time. Instead, our Director of Schools Dan Eschtruth has shared messages to our entire community. This is on purpose. It is considered best practice to have a “one-voice” approach when communicating in a situation such as this.
To promote this “one-voice”, I hope that each of you have visited our newly developed Parent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page. We built this page as an effective resource for information for our entire community. As the situation within Shanghai evolves, we will continue to update this site with our most recent information.
Despite all that is happening within our own community, I hope we all take a moment to reflect and discuss the larger implications of this situation. While I am certain this has been a time of personal discomfort and moments of frustration for many of us, it pales in comparison to those who were directly affected through the deaths or severe illness of loved ones due to the coronavirus outbreak. Our thoughts and prayers go out these families. They are the center of this global story. And, in many ways, they give us a sense of perspective about our role within it.
I am more appreciative than ever of the SCIS community. I have seen countless examples of support and caring. And, I’ve seen educators pull together these last few weeks to work tirelessly to provide some fantastic learning opportunities despite our campus closure.
It is my sincere hope that we are able to see each other face to face soon. Until then, be safe and healthy.
Next week will be a short – but busy – week. There will be no school for students on Thursday and Friday. Thursday is an important day for our faculty as we collaborate with SCIS Hongqiao faculty for the first big event in launching our WASC Accreditation / IB Authorization process.
In an earlier post, I shared more about the upcoming synchronized visit with WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) and IB (International Baccalaureate). It is a special challenge and opportunity to affirm the quality of what we do. Only a few schools around the world (less than 1%) have gone through a synchronized visit from WASC and the IB. It will be a fantastic opportunity for our school to reflect and grow. All school constituents will be involved in the process.
Speaking of parent involvement, I want to remind everyone about our Monthly Parent Satisfaction Survey. An email was sent to all parents on September 4th encouraging each of you to complete a two-minute survey to share your perceptions about SCIS. (If you did not receive that email from “PD News”, please contact the school so that we can ensure we have your correct email address.) A version of this survey will come out each month for parents. Of course, we are all here to better serve our students. So, we will be surveying them as well throughout the year to gather data, hear perceptions, and work with them to make their experience more meaningful.
If you have already completed this short survey – thank you! If you did not complete it, please do so. Each parent can complete it. It only takes two minutes! The deadline to complete this survey is midnight on September 15.
As a reminder, next week we will take student photographs. Check your divisional communication for additional information.
Next week, the school will also practice our emergency fire evacuation drills. For those of you with younger children, we would greatly appreciate your help in talking through this process with your child to help him/her understand that this is a practice.
Morning Bus Pick-Up Reminders: The bus will not wait for students who are late in the morning. Doing so causes all the students on the bus to arrive late for school. To help keep us on schedule, I have instructed to drivers to leave the bus stop promptly on time. To prevent problems, please be sure that your child arrives at the bus stop prior to his/her scheduled departure. If you have any bus questions, contact our transportation coordinator Stu Ren at email@example.com . Thank you for your help in keeping our bus times on schedule.
Wishing each of you a restful weekend.
Warm regards, Derek Luebbe, Head of School
Tuesday, 4:00 pm: JV Volleyball (Boys and Girls) vs. Concordia (@ SCIS), Varsity Volleyball (Boys and Girls) at Concordia.
Tuesday: Lower School student picture day.
Wednesday: Upper School student picture day.
Thursday: No School for students. Professional Development Day for Faculty.
Friday: No school for students. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
We are off and running on a the fantastic journey that will be the 2019-20 school year. We look forward to partnering with you to make it special. Let me officially welcome all of you to what I know will be a rewarding year for your children.
It was fantastic to see such a large turnout at our New Family Orientation. This year, we welcome over 80 new SCIS Dragons. Our school continues to grow as we open with 400+ students, and we look forward to all the connections, relationships, and experiences that we will share as an SCIS Community over the 2019-20 school year.
For those of you who are new, this Head of School Update is one way in which we aim to stay in communication with families throughout the year. Principals also share a Principal’s Post at the end of each week. You will also notice that we added some new features and links to this blog that parents typically reference.
The first day was filled with boundless energy – old friendships renewed, new students a little nervous, returning students welcoming new students, and a lot of supportive parents and faculty trying to make sure the first day is a positive one.
Ms. Gale’s Absence
As I shared during New Family Orientation, Ms. Gale is home in the United States for a few days. Unfortunately, earlier last week, Ms. Gale learned of her mother’s declining health. As such, she rightly decided to leave on Sunday for the USA for a short period of time to be with her mother and family. As a community, I know we send our thoughts and prayers to her at this time.
She worked diligently over the previous days to ensure that all the pieces were in place for a successful school opening. In her absence, the entire Lower School team has stepped up in support. From a parent’s perspective, if you have questions that would normally be directed to Ms. Gale, please reach out to the Lower School Counselor, Laurie Luebbe (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Returning families will see a campus that has seen significant upgrades. Check these out the next time you’re in school.
Thanks to PAFA for the funding, and to parent Victor Ngo for the awesome design ideas. The Lobby/Lounge Space has been re-built to allow more informal and formal meetings for parents, teachers, and students
A new Upper School Music room was added to the 4th floor.
Lower School Music will moved to a much bigger room on the Lower Level.
Dedicated individual learning spaces built into Upper School Rooms 310 / 308.
The addition of a fourth PS/PK classroom to accommodate growth.
The addition of a (new) second Grade 5 classroom to accommodate growth.
The addition of an ECE indoor play-room.
Additional space added to create 3 Mandarin rooms on the 2nd floor.
We continue to be very fortunate that our Board of Directors continues to invest in the facility to ensure we have spaces that align with research-based best practices for learning.
Communication at SCIS
As we kick off the new year, I want to ensure that all families are aware of the importance of communication, and each of you are aware of the various communication methods we use throughout the year. We want to partner with you in pursuit of making this year a success for your child. Personal communication is the most important aspect of developing our relationship and clarifying our shared understanding of our program and your child’s needs.
Here are a couple important reminders:
Communicate first and foremost with the person most directly knowledgeable about your child’s problem. Usually, this is your child’s teacher. Email is a great way to communicate, and if needed, a personal visit can always be scheduled.
We maintain a number of unofficial WeChat groups to facilitate communication. (The addition of WeChat groups resulted from a yearlong Communication Task Force – involving students, parents, teachers, and administration in 2016-17 – aiming to strengthen our communication practices.) We are a unique school in the way in which we utilize WeChat to help facilitate parent communication. Some reminders about the WeChat groups.
As unofficial groups, a school faculty member is always included in each group, but the school (or the representative) does not typically reply to WeChat messages or questions posed by parents. We officially communicate through other channels, noted in the chart below.
Utilzing WeChat groups is an exercise in trust in our collective ability to self-monitor the conversation and ensure that it stays healthy, professional, and supportive of the school and each other. We have developed SCIS WeChat Normsto clarify these expectations. Please review these norms. For example, WeChat should not be used to complain about a particular person or policy. If you have personal questions or comments that you would like to make which may violate these norms, those questions/comments are likely best communicated in person, via email to the specific person, or raised to PAFA representatives for broader discussion.
PAFA is an excellent conduit of information and source of knowledge. Please feel free to reach out to this year’s PAFA president Vanessa Thomas (email@example.com ) if you have questions, comments, or suggestions.
Below is a helpful chart to summarize the various ways that we stay connected as a school community.
Unofficial Communication Channels
(Wechat) SCIS Fantastic ParentsGroup – an excellent source of connecting and learning about what’s happening from parents within the SCIS community. Daily questions and online conversations. (NOTE: As of Aug. 13, PAFA is still using the 2018-19 Fantastic Parent group. If you are not a part of this group, please ask someone to add you. In the near term, a newly created group for the 2019-20 school year will be added, and individuals can add themselves via a new QR code. Stay tuned !)
(Wechat) Grade Level Groups – Connect with all the parents who are in your child’s class. As a school, we are always looking to strengthen our community by expanding our ability to communicate with one another. If you have an idea, email me our School Community Officer, David Mazer at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or PAFA President Vanessa Thomas at email@example.com
We have a number of important school wide events. Please mark your calendars. There are a number of PAFA events shared on the PAFA Post (below).
PAFA Welcome Back Coffee Morning, Tuesday, August 20 from 9:30 – 11:30.
Come meet in the Black Box for this introductory meet and greet. – Hear from Mr. Luebbe and divisional representatives, – Meet the PAFA Executive Team, – Learn about volunteering opportunities, events, and other ways to build our school community, – Join a break-out group to meet other parents in your child’s grade level, – Participate in our annual “Uniform Swap”, – Just relax and connect with others in the SCIS Community.
Welcome Back BBQ – Saturday, August 24 11:00-3:00 pm
The Welcome Back BBQ is an annual tradition filled with food, drinks, games, entertainment and socializing to connect (and re-connect) our SCIS Community. Come out for a fun day of family relaxation. Busing will be provided from designated pick-up points. See Friday’s blog post and Fantastic Parents for more information on how to sign up for busing.
This is a free – and fun – event!
We are looking for PERFORMERS who want to sing, dance or play an instrument at the AUG 24th WELCOME BBQ. Contact Laurie Luebbe if you or your child(ren) are interested. DEADLINE Friday Aug 23. Email Laurie: firstname.lastname@example.org
Back To School Night, August 29, 6:00 pm
Let us know how we can help!
On behalf of everyone at SCIS Pudong, I welcome you to the 2019-20 school year. Our job is to partner with you to make this a memorable year for your child. If we can be of any help, please reach out at any point throughout the year.