Dear Parents,

As I have mentioned in previous letters, our top priority for the year in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic is the social-emotional and physical health of our community. We are very fortunate that Singapore continues to be a safe place with regard to physical health. At the same time, we know that social-emotional health and well being are equally as important as physical health.

One major element to social-emotional and mental health is the ability to connect with family, friends, and loved ones in person. The inability to have that connection this past year with family and friends overseas has been and continues to be a major challenge for many of our students, teachers, and parents. Your feedback on this helped inform our decision last spring to adjust the school start date and extend the winter break in the hope we could create more opportunities for community members to travel.  

At this time, it does not appear that many members of our community will have the opportunity to travel and see their extended families over winter break. The Singapore Government continues to maintain travel advisories against travel to most of the world. While there have been limited moves on opening (eg, for places like New Zealand and Hong Kong), the progress has been slow and will likely continue to be slow in the coming months. The Government also continues to require that any person who leaves the country and who is not a Singapore citizen or permanent resident obtains specific governmental permission before they are allowed to return to Singapore, and once they return they are responsible for meeting any government Stay Home Notice (SHN)/quarantine requirements. 

In light of all this, we want to get your thoughts on different options for our calendar. We certainly start with reluctance about another change to our calendar.  We also start from our overarching objective about what we can do to best meet the social and emotional needs of our community and the vital role that an opportunity to see extended family plays in that. 

We outline below the three main options we are considering and some of the pros and cons we see. We welcome your perspective on this. Please try to provide us with your feedback by the end of Tuesday, October 27.  

Status quo
  • Last day of school is December 11 and school will resume on January 11
  • PRO - This is what we have all been planning for and allows people to maintain  current plans

  • CON - If few people can travel, it might be a better use of the extra week to attach it to a break where travel is more easily accessible.

Adjust winter break to lengthen spring break
  • Last day of school is December 11 and school will resume on January 4

  • The week is then added to spring break to lengthen that holiday

  • PRO - We would still be able to enjoy the standard three-week winter holiday. The addition to spring break gives us a longer opportunity to recharge before we move into the final stretch of the school year, which can often feel long. Travel is more likely in March than January.

  • CON - It is still highly uncertain if more travel will be possible in March. 

Adjust winter break to lengthen summer break
  • Last day of school is December 11 and school will resume on January 4

  • The week is then added to summer break to lengthen that holiday

  • PRO - We would still be able to enjoy the standard three-week winter holiday. We are hopeful that travel will be a possibility by the time we reach summer and this additional week during summer would give everyone more time with their family, friends, and loved ones.

  • CON - We recognize that summer still feels a long way off. In order to enjoy a longer summer break, we first need to get to the summer break. It is still uncertain what travel may be available in summer. 

In addition to the ideas mentioned above, we looked at a number of other possibilities, including the idea of shortening the winter holiday and creating five three-day weekends. We do not favor this option because it would be disruptive to class and activity schedules and would do nothing to facilitate people getting to travel and spend time with extended family.

Some of you have asked if we would go to distance learning during the first two weeks after winter break to accommodate people who might travel but need to quarantine on return. We anticipate the overwhelming majority of families will remain in Singapore over the break, given the Government’s travel advisory. As such, it would not seem to make sense to go to distance learning for the few when the vast majority would be able to be present in person. If this situation changes, that is something we could reevaluate. 

If you have any thoughts or ideas regarding the pros and cons of these approaches, please share them using this form. This form will be open until Tuesday evening at midnight. We will use your feedback and aim within a week of getting your feedback to communicate our decision to the community. 

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts. 

Best,

Tom Boasberg
Superintendent