Operations at SAS: Back to School Updates

Introducing Operations at SAS

Welcome to the tenth year of our article series explaining the school's operations and finances! Operations at SAS, formerly known as Finance at SAS, is intended to maintain open communication around issues and decisions affecting Singapore American School. This year, we have changed the name of the series to Operations at SAS, which more accurately reflects our topics. All 130-plus past articles can be accessed at Operations at SAS on the school website.

Our articles are published every few weeks in eNews and cover a broad range of topics, such as how we ensure financial stability, student and staff demographics, school security arrangements, and explanations of facilities projects. When you see an Operations at SAS article in eNews, we encourage you to take a few minutes to read it. By doing so, you will learn more about SAS and how it has flourished for over sixty years. Browse through past years' articles or email Chief Operating Officer Matthew Rogers at mrogers@sas.edu.sg if there is something you would like to know.

Back to School Updates

The 2020–21 school year has gotten off to a smooth start, due to the dedication of our faculty and staff and the support of our parents. We hope that by now all students have settled into their new routines and have connected with friends and teachers. At the end of our fifth week, we would like to give you an update on enrollment numbers, new faculty, bus safety enhancements, and summer facilities projects.

School starts with full enrollment

We are pleased to report that we achieved our total enrollment target for the start of the school year, with 4,052 enrolled students. In addition to 3,367 returning students, we welcomed 685 new students to SAS. We have a few spaces left in the early learning center, in kindergarten through third grade, and in grades 11 and 12. We expect to fill most of these with qualified candidates during the first semester. Bus operator Yeap Transport reports that 132 buses pick up over 2,785 SAS students each day from 770 different locations. We estimate that around 600 neighborhood children walk, bike, or scooter to school.

We are delighted that our start-of-school enrollment was the largest ever in the school's history! However, we know that the unprecedented global situation may affect SAS in unexpected ways, so we are planning proactively to meet all possible developments.

Welcome to our new faculty members

In addition to our new students, we also welcomed 30 teachers to the school. Twenty-three of these new hires are American citizens, and the rest hail from Australia, Canada, China, Pakistan, and Taiwan. Over half joined us from international schools outside Singapore, one-third came from US or Canadian schools, and several joined us from other schools in Singapore. Our new colleagues are an experienced group, with most having taught for five or more years and 70 percent holding a master's degree or higher. In addition to several faculty members who moved into leadership and interim leadership positions over the summer, we also welcomed three new leadership team members to SAS .

Bus Safety Enhancements

A number of extra measures have been put in place to keep our bus riders safe throughout their school bus commutes. These enhancements are in response to two serious accidents that occurred over the last two years as students tried to cross streets after being dropped off. An intensive review, including community focus groups, resulted in changes to a number of drop-off locations and recommendations for further measures.

Last November, Yeap appointed a health and safety officer to further train and oversee its staff in regard to drop-off procedures. While elementary school students must be met by a caregiver, middle and high school students may walk home from drop-off points alone; now, Yeap staff equipped with electronic stop signs act as highly visible traffic marshals to guide students across streets that lack public crosswalks. Yeap has also reinforced training on its standard operating procedures (SOPs) and has posted these SOPs on all buses so parents know what to expect. Furthermore, Yeap now includes the Safe Crossing video as part of the bus sign-up process for new students. Finally, to confirm compliance with its SOPs, Yeap has instituted twice-weekly reviews of randomly selected drop-off points.

We are confident that these measures will help ensure student safety, and we encourage parents to reinforce and model for their children safe-crossing practices. To understand more about the bus situation in Singapore, please read last year's article, Yeap Transport and the Private Bus Sector.

Summer projects successfully completed

Usually, summer is the busiest time of year for our facilities team, but the 2020 summer break was much quieter due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, SAS facilities staff and external contractors were able to complete a number of cleaning, maintenance, and refurbishment projects that were deemed essential and entailed limited construction:

  • Elementary school Chinese immersion classroom conversion, to support our immersion program's expansion into third grade
  • Elementary school relocation of speech rooms
  • Elementary school conversion of old EAA office to dean of student life office
  • Middle school world language community classroom expansion, to accommodate growth in our Spanish program
  • High school pathfinder project for our math, science, and learning support programs
  • Installation of equipment orders in music, science, and makerspace classrooms

Besides these projects, our facilities team spent countless hours before school started preparing classrooms, corridors, open areas, and other learning spaces to comply with the mandated safe-distancing precautions. This included moving furniture, putting up signs and stickers, creating one-way flows, and many other modifications. We thank our facilities team for their work to keep our community safe and ensure the school adheres to all government rules and guidelines.

Thank you for reading this year's first Operations at SAS article. Parents' questions and comments are always welcome and have led to some of our most interesting articles. Please email them to Chief Operating Officer Matthew Rogers at mrogers@sas.edu.sg. We look forward to hearing from you.