Dear Parents,

We would like to share with you below the changes we are making to our school calendar to facilitate travel over the winter break. We will extend our return from winter break so that the first day of second semester will be Monday, January 17 rather than Monday, January 10. The last day of our first semester will be Thursday, December 16 rather than Friday, December 17. We share below the schedule changes we are making to recover this lost learning time. Click here for a revised school calendar that highlights all of the changes.

First, a bit of context: we have emphasized over the last nearly two years of the pandemic that our number one priority is the health of our community—physical, social-emotional and mental—in the face of Covid’s extraordinary pressures and challenges. Social-emotional health is vital to productive academic learning. Having the opportunity to travel and be with overseas parents, children, and close family members is a key contributor to the well-being of students, teachers, and parents. We have therefore stressed our commitment to do all we can to facilitate opportunities for travel and to enable these family reunions.

In response to our recent request for feedback on different potential alternatives for winter break, over 1,600 parents, educators, and students shared their feedback. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. The three most important themes in your comments were:

  • Time with family/loved ones is vitally important
  • Preserve as much in-person instruction as possible
  • Consider the impact on all stakeholders

Overwhelmingly, you asked that we extend winter break to facilitate travel opportunities. Nearly 80% of parents and 90% of teachers and students asked that we extend the winter break.

One parent wrote: “I think it goes without saying how much our community needs this. When you have young students able to clearly state how much they miss their friends and families back home even in casual conversation with their peers, you know it's because they really do. I would gladly recover instructional time from other dates if needed.

And, another said: “People have not seen family in several years and this has placed a great deal of stress on individuals and families. The plan to push back the start would increase the likelihood that everyone that wants to travel will be able to.

We agree. Not only is this ability to travel the single most positive thing we could do at this point to promote social-emotional and mental health in our community (other than curing Covid-19!), but it is also critical to our ability to retain many of our talented teachers. A great many teachers have emphasized the importance of being able to travel in making their decision to stay at SAS next year.

We welcome the significant expansion in vaccinated travel lane (VTL) opportunities recently announced by the Singapore government, which will now make quarantine-free travel possible to a number of additional countries, including Canada, the United States, South Korea, and Great Britain. We are hopeful that additional VTL opportunities will be announced in the coming months to more countries. Additionally, the government announced that children 12 and below will be able to utilize these vaccinated travel lanes as well. For those families who may still need to quarantine upon their return to Singapore and are not able to come to school on January 17, we will support the students through asynchronous distance learning during those days.

We recognize that not all teachers and families will travel over winter break, even with this extra time. For you, these changes may be frustrating and inconvenient. We hope you will appreciate how meaningful these changes are to the educators and families who do have the ability and desire to travel.

We are making several adjustments to the calendar to make up for the loss of learning time that week of January 10. As many of you requested and in light of the introduction of the no-quarantine vaccinated travel lane (VTL) arrangements, we do not plan on adding any days of distance learning.

We are making the following schedule changes to extend the winter break:

  • The first day of school for second semester will be held in person on Monday, January 17.
  • Additionally, we will begin our winter break one day early, with the last day of school being Thursday, December 16.

In order to make this possible, we will make several additional changes to our calendar:

  • February 28 will be changed from an in-service day to a full instructional day.
  • The Friday after Thanksgiving -- Friday, November 26 -- will be changed from a holiday into a school day (this allows us to end our semester one day earlier in December).
  • Wednesday, November 24, Monday, December 13, and May 4 will be changed from half-day/late start inservice days to full instructional days
  • The originally scheduled first day of high school Interim Semester (February 18) will now be a full instructional day.
  • We will adjust the elementary parent conferences held in March so that only Friday, March 18 will be a conference day. Thursday March 17 will now be a full school day. We will look to hold parent conferences in the evening of that week to enable us to continue to offer the same amount of parent-teacher conference time.
  • We will do the same with middle school parent conferences held in April. Thursday, April 21 will become a full school day in the middle school.

These changes are set out in this revised calendar. While the calendar changes do not fully re-capture all the instructional time lost to the later start of our second semester, they do mean that there will be fewer than two lost days of instructional time for our students. In the time we do have, we will work hard to make up for that loss of learning time.

Thank you again for sharing your comments with us. I also want to thank the leadership of our PTA, Boosters, and Faculty Senate for sharing your views and your support for the extension to the winter break. We are hopeful that these changes will have a positive impact on the social-emotional wellness and the academic learning in our community.

Tom Boasberg