The campus closure has been extended until at least May 8, which the community was informed about on April 13 in an email from Head of School Mrs. Robin Appleby.
The decision to extend the campus closure was made during the Spring Break by members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), which is comprised of key leaders in the school, and the Board of Trustees. These decisions are based on government advice, as well as what they think is best for the ASL community at the time.
Mrs. Appleby said, “We were trying our best to take into consideration what we expected the UK government to do in terms of the extension of the social isolation measures and also thinking about what would be the safest and best for our own community.” More specifically she explained how the school must stay closed until the government lifts isolation measures. There was not enough evidence it was safe to return to school, and community members wanted to know what to expect in advance.
Multiple schools in the US have already made the decision to close their school campuses for the rest of the school year. However, there are a few reasons why ASL has not made that decision yet. Chair of the Board of Trustees Mr. David Novak said, “Some of the dynamics are different here in the UK. The government advice is different here than in the US, and where the UK is in the coronavirus cycle is different. Given generally the UK has been ahead of the US, we didn’t think it was the right time to commit to closing school for the rest of the year.”
The campus closure extension gives the Senior Leadership Team more time to. “We think making these decisions incrementally aligns with the way that scientists are looking at the study of the spread of the virus and what’s best for the UK overall, so we’ll stick with a method like that,” Mrs. Appleby said. “We’re constantly receiving that information and looking at recommendations that researchers around the world are making about how one can reopen a country essentially that’s been on lockdown.”
If students do return to school for some part of the school year, certain safety procedures will need to be taken. Mr. Novak said, “I think we will want to make sure that we understand what’s the best safety procedures depending on where we are and what we know about the virus. It could entail any number of things including hygiene, cleaning procedures, social distancing procedures, etc that we will have to take advice on as we get closer.”
If students do not return to school, they will miss large events that happen at the end of the school year, such as student graduations. The SLT is currently working on how they can make these events memorable if the campus is still closed.
Another challenge if students do not return to school is how the school will collect materials from students like library books and laptops; typically, the tech department needs time over the summer to erase and clean student laptops so that they can install the latest operating system in time for the new school year.
Mrs. Appleby explained how the collection depends on the situation of the virus, as well as where the students are. “If we were closed for the remainder of the year and the current UK social distancing policies were still in place, then we would probably simply delay collecting materials until the end of the summer,” she said. “If we stayed closed but things were beginning to open up and people who were in London could come and drop things off, we could arrange for that, but certainly for someone who’s gone abroad already and wouldn’t be returning for the summer, we wouldn’t expect them to be able to return things until they came back to London.”