Head of School's Welcome
We’ve now bid goodbye to 2020 — a year best experienced in hindsight. But I am keen to remember, as is so often the case in the face of difficult circumstances, that we saw our community rise to the challenges time and time again.
A few examples:
- Just days after on-campus classes were discontinued in mid-March 2020, our faculty implemented a distance learning programme. No, it was not perfect at the start, but through trial and some error, with plenty of feedback, the educational experience continually improved.
- After beginning the 2020-2021 school year with all distance learning, WIS moved to hybrid learning on October 5, 2020. With one of our two cohorts in the classroom and the other connected via Zoom, faculty and students adapted to teaching and learning in an entirely new way.
- Like their peers around the world, WIS parents were essential partners in the educational process, from helping their children understand what was happening in the world around them to curating virtual experiences to keep community members connected (read more at right or below, depending on how you are accessing this page).
I never imagined that it would seem an achievement to be bringing half of our students to campus each day, but it has been. And we would not be able to continue with on-campus instruction without the cooperation of every single member of our extended school community.
Whether or not circumstances will align to allow WIS to revert to a “normal” school year before June remains unclear, and in part beyond our control, so we will focus on what we can manage. We will continue to prioritise an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary education that equips our students to navigate the world beyond our campuses. We will continue to emphasise the need to ask questions and to think deeply. We will continue to recognise the value in understanding multiple perspectives and ensure such understanding is developed in our classrooms.
WIS is still a relatively young school — 2021 marks the 55th Anniversary of our founding — but I believe our identity is firmly established, in significant measure due to a continuity of mission over time. I am proud to call WIS my educational home.
COVID TESTING AT WIS
When on-campus learning resumed in October 2020 COVID-19 transmission rates and the number of cases in the DC area were relatively low, but forecasted to increase. We believed adding a comprehensive testing program to our other COVID mitigation measures would decrease anxiety and allow us to better assess the safety of in-person learning.
WIS was fortunate to identify an opportunity that enabled us to deliver on our key goals: an accurate test that produces rapid results and can be conducted on site with minimal disruption to the academic day. UnitedHealth Group R&D and the University of Washington had planned a study and were interested in identifying an educational partner to assess the efficacy and practicality of rapid-result pooled PCR testing of asymptomatic individuals in a school environment.
The testing study began with all faculty/staff and Grades 6–12 students immediately following Thanksgiving Break, with a post-Winter Break expansion to Primary School students. Surveys conducted after the third week of testing expressed a high level of support for the program. We believe testing has been an important element in ensuring the continuity and safety of in-person education.
(CLICK HERE for more information about COVID-related policies and procedures.)