Dear SAS Community,
Last week we shared with you an idea proposed by community members that we move forward our 2020–21 school calendar by one week, with school starting one week earlier in August and ending one week earlier in December. We received nearly 500 emails in response to this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We also discussed this with our faculty senate and our PTA. We wanted to make sure we heard as many voices and different pros and cons on the issue as possible before making a decision.
After much consideration, we have decided to begin the school year one week earlier and add an additional week to the winter holiday. This was also the preference of the overwhelming majority of those who commented. Therefore, the 2020–21 school year will begin with Open House on Monday, August 3, and the first day of school will be Tuesday, August 4. The last day of the first semester will be Friday, December 11. There are no other changes to the fall calendar.
We approached this decision using two main lenses:
Examining how best to support the social/emotional needs of students, faculty, and community members by increasing opportunities to connect with overseas family and loved ones
Assessing any impact on student learning
Our first priority was to support our students’ and educators’ social-emotional needs. Connection with family and loved ones is at the heart of that social-emotional health. We have heard time and again from students, faculty members, and parents how much they care about having the chance to see family members who are overseas. There is no guarantee that such travel will be possible in December, but there is a much higher likelihood of this in December than this summer, given the Singapore government’s current restrictions on travel. We want to do all we can to increase the possibility of such visits to overseas family members and loved ones, and we hope that adding a week to the winter break will be helpful. In addition, our local staff noted that they would support such a change because it would give them more time with their children when the local schools are on winter break in December.
At the same time, we want to ensure that any possible plan would have no negative impact on student learning and growth. After connecting with faculty, school leaders, and counselors, we believe that this shift might have a positive impact on student learning and growth for several reasons:
Starting sooner allows students to get back into classroom rhythms and be reunited with their peers earlier, especially if the overwhelming majority of our students will be here this summer with potentially tight limits on their out-of-school activities;
Our college counselors believe this change will give our seniors a valuable head start on college applications, especially given that the vast majority of our seniors apply early to at least one college.
We recognize that starting a week earlier could adversely impact new families and educators coming into Singapore from overseas. At this point, we have no clarity as to when new families and teachers will be able to gain entry into Singapore, so the impact of the change was harder to appraise. We remain committed to supporting the learning for all of our students and will have a plan in place for students and teachers who are not able to be with us in person for the start of school. In addition, for seniors who need support in completing college applications the week of December 11-18, we will have available the necessary support from our college counseling team during that time.
We recognize that predicting the future course of the pandemic is an impossible task. In a situation like this, our aim is to make the best decision possible based on the information available, recognizing there is no one right answer. Time will tell if this calendar change makes a difference; it is our belief that this change increases the possibility that our students, educators, and parents may see their overseas families and loved ones this year.
Thank you again for sharing your comments with us. We are hopeful that this change will have a positive impact on our students, faculty, and parents. And, we look forward to seeing you in August!