Dear Parents,

In response to our request for feedback on different potential alternatives for winter break, over 1,000 parents and educators shared thoughtful and timely feedback. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Many of you have been asking about this for several weeks now, and we wanted to make sure we heard as many voices as possible regarding the various pros and cons surrounding the issue.

After much consideration and taking into account overwhelming feedback in support of this option, we have decided to come back from winter break after three weeks and begin school on Monday, January 4. The last day of this semester will remain Friday, December 11. The first day of semester two will now become Monday, January 4. The final day of semester two will now become Friday, May 28. Summer break therefore will be extended by one week. 

Click here to see the revised calendar.

We approached this decision using two principal 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.

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. Many of you expressed similar thoughts in the feedback you shared. I’ve shared several of the comments below. 

An overwhelming majority (roughly 85 percent) of our community expressed interest in returning to our standard three-week winter holiday. Of those, a large majority favored adding the week of vacation from winter break to extend our summer break rather than our spring break, with the principal rationale being the greater likelihood of being able to travel and see extended family over the summer time. 

We agree that lengthening our summer holiday offers our entire community the greatest possibility of returning to overseas homes to see family and friends.  As we think about morale and wellness among our teachers and our whole community, we heard time and again how important this is as we think about the rest of the school year.  Not surprisingly, a very large majority of teachers favored this alternative.

We do appreciate the rationale of those who suggested a two-week spring break to provide more of a rest in the middle of the second semester. At the end of the day, though, our priority on the decision is how to maximize opportunities for family reunions and spring seems less likely in this regard. And, we also appreciate those who opposed any change and stressed the importance of keeping to the revised calendar we announced at the end of May. Facing the challenges of COVID-19, we hear you on the downside of changes of this nature, but felt the change would be significantly more beneficial than keeping the four-week winter break. 

Finally, several of you noted that you will be traveling over winter break because of very pressing family reasons and strongly opposed the change. For those of you who have already scheduled travel plans, please remember to update your travel declaration here. We are reaching out to each of you to discuss how we can support your children in the event of such travel. If there are others who will not be in Singapore (or here in quarantine) during that week of January 4, please reach out directly to your child’s teacher or counselor to discuss how we can best support your child(ren). While we are unable to offer full distance and in-person learning classes concurrently, your child's teachers will do their best to support your child if they are not in school that week. 

Thank you again for sharing your comments with us. The uncertainties of COVID-19 certainly pose many challenges and uncertainties. We are hopeful that this change will have a positive impact on the social and emotional wellness of our students, faculty, and parents. 

 

Best,

Tom Boasberg
Superintendent


Sample comments in favor of extending summer break

"I think lengthening the summer break is the best option at this point. I think we still may not be able to travel far in March and so the extra week would just be another week off here. I think with one week, we should be rested especially just staying here. Hopefully by summer we can go to see our families who we are desperate to see. Hopefully quarantine will be shorter or Covid tests will be available to limit quarantine times but if not, we will still have plenty of time with families, assuming the Government will let us go. Thanks for letting everyone have a say. It is appreciated."

"Thank you for giving us an opportunity to give feedback. We have discussed the three options with our daughter. We all agree that the extra week should be added to the summer so that we can see our families, as much as possible."

"Firstly - thank you for soliciting feedback from the school community. We are a recent transfer family, and over the past three months, have been very impressed by how well the school is run, and yet is always looking for input on how to adjust and improve! My personal take is that having an extra week off in the winter or spring doesn't really move the needle -- other than organizing a staycation, there isn't much else to do while travel restrictions are in place -- so it makes sense to push the extra week of holidays to the summer. Even if there are still travel restrictions in place next June, the extended break may make it more palatable to visit family overseas for multiple weeks (even if it means getting quarantined on return)."

"My wife and I very much appreciate SAS trying to be flexible in response to this very unusual year.Our family would very much prefer the third option, reduce winter break by 1 week and add it to the summer. In particular, if the summer break could start one week earlier, it would be helpful to our family's plans as we have a daughter graduating from a US university."

"Thank you for your thoughtful assessment of the winter break options. We are in favor of adjusting winter break to lengthen summer break. We realize travel might not be possible this summer. However, the SAS summer session options this past summer were excellent. With more time, you would be able to brainstorm and plan a robust summer offering that enriches our children's learning as needed. I would love to see a really neat Chinese Immersion Summer Session for all interested students that takes full advantage of this extra week if we are unable to travel."
 

Sample comments in favor of extending spring break

"I am in favor of extending Spring Vacation - NOT summer as summer is very long as it stands and gives people plenty of time to return home and reconnect. I think extending Spring vacation makes the most sense as it is only 1 week. In general, I think spring break should be 2 weeks - like most schools (take a week from Christmas!) as this is the time that the kids feel most worn out and as you mentioned they have that final stretch, so this is when they need to have the rest. Bonus if we can travel."

"Prefer the spring break lengthened , as the kids then get an intermittent resting break to recuperate their energy. Summer break length is anyways sufficient Thanks for reaching out."

"I think we should lengthen the spring break. A two-week break would be a nice recharge, and summer break is too far away. And who knows, maybe we can travel by spring break."

"We vote to add the extra week on to Spring break. Even if we don’t get to travel, it would be nice to have a longer stretch off of school at that time. Our second choice would be to leave it with the holiday break. Summer break is long enough and the extra week there wouldn’]t really impact us as it would not extend our travel plans. Thank you for collecting feedback."

"Adjust winter break to lengthen spring break. Although it may be administratively annoying- I would prefer moving this extra week where it is needed depending on the travel restrictions. If by spring break time- it looks like we can travel then move to summer. But if not, then keep for spring. Thank you very much for trying to always consider our opinions- it is much appreciated!"

"Greatly appreciate the communication from school and involvement of parents in these decisions. I like way school has provided 3 options which are so clearly tabulated- very much appreciate this gesture. My feedback is that there certainly is no point in adding the extra week during winter break- winter break can be as usual of 3 weeks , the extra week can be added in the spring . No distance learning please unless conditions worsen again and is mandated by the government .Thanks."
 

Sample comments in favor of keeping the current arrangement

"I would like to keep the break status quo. My family has planned on this option since it was decided. Having a senior it is critical for us to get to the USA to look at Colleges because we didn’t have that option this summer. We are hoping that the school will have remote learning options to accommodate students travelling back. These are trying times and we owe it to the students especially the seniors who have lost out on so much."

"I've asked my high school students and they were both looking forward to the four weeks to rest and recover. We have also already made plans (and paid for them) for the week beginning Jan 5th. We’d prefer status quo."

"I think that keeping the calendar as is would be most prudent. Personally, with quarantine I do not see any travel happening before the summer and that may not happen either depending on the rest of the world. The kids have already been through so many changes, I do not want to change anything else."

"Right now it is too late to change anything. Some of Us already organised and paid for camps because some families have both parents working who cannot take 4 weeks off. Let’s keep in mind that the schools is not just made of families where parents are teachers, or only one parents work. Working parents need stability and predictability so that they can go to work. 3 days weekends and in faculty service days are terrible for parents who don’t work. Let’s have a more inclusive vision for our community - thank you."