Newsletter - 24 April
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Thank you to the parents who joined the online Meet the Director earlier today. HERE is the link to the presentation for your information.
As many of you know, the Minister of Education, Heinz Fassmann, today presented the Austrian government's plan for reopening schools in 14-day steps.
Although we appreciate receiving news from the local authorities, we recognise that the guidelines provided have a simplicity which does not really reflect the way our school works. A few examples of how does this not work include, the number of children, the dynamics of movement around the building and the limited classroom space. For this reason, we will be meeting with the Ministry of Education representatives next week to discuss our school's particular case and decide which is the best and safest way to move forward for the VIS. We will make sure to update the community once we have more news.
The plans for the Austrian state schools are as follows:
- May 4 – Students in Grade 12 come back to all classes and do their Matura-light
- May 18* – Grade 1-8 students return to school
- June 3* – All other students can return to school
* in shifts & under certain hygienic conditions.
According to the government, students who return on May 18 and June 3 (marked by *) will learn in shifts – half the students of every class will be at school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the other half on Thursday and Friday. The halves will switch every week.
- There will be no afternoon teaching, no sports and music classes (due to infection risk) and heightened attention to hygiene and the new distance rules. A protection for mouth and nose is required when coming to school (parents should provide their children with these masks); younger children can take it off in class.
- There will be no big tests and exams (Schularbeiten) and teachers are called on to grade mostly according to past achievements in the two thirds of the school year that already passed until March 16.
- Teachers or children in risk groups or who feel sick are permitted to stay at home.
- All measures are conditional on further falling numbers of infections and can be rolled back if the health situation changes.
I will be working with the school leadership and Board of Governors to determine how the remainder of the school year will work for the VIS community. Please look out for the survey requesting feedback on Distance Learning that we will send out next week.
Have a great sunny weekend everyone!
Last Day to Order the Yearbook
The 2020 Yearbook is now getting ready for production. This year the price will again remain at 55 euro per Yearbook and 100 euro for 2 Yearbooks. If you wish to order more than 2 Yearbooks, then the price is 50 euro per Yearbook. Please ensure that you only make one payment for the total sum of the multiple books and not separate payments. The discount of multiple Yearbooks is ONLY for families with more than one child. It is not for a group of families to get together to place one order to make it slightly cheaper for themselves. We recognize that the Yearbooks cost a reasonable amount of money and are trying to make it easier for families to afford to buy one Yearbook per child.
If you would like to order one (or more) Yearbooks, please make the payment to the VIS bank account by 24:00 today, Friday, 24 April. There is no need to email the Yearbook Team to confirm your order. You will find below the details to make an online or in bank payment:
Am Belvedere 1
IBAN: AT27 2011 1837 2730 1401
Payable to: Vienna International School Yearbook
Please ensure that you put in the reference section your child's name and class. If you are ordering more than one Yearbook, please put in the name and class of the child that you would like to receive or collect the Yearbooks. It is usually better that older siblings collect the Yearbooks as they are very heavy for young children to carry and less likely to get lost.
Once the books arrive in school, copies ordered for students in the Primary School will be delivered to the homeroom classes and passed directly to the students in their homeroom. Secondary students and parents will be able to collect their copies during specified times in the Secondary Library. It is important to keep a copy of your payment proof to bring along when you collect your copy of the Yearbook in the case that we do not receive record of your payment from the banks.
We are planning for the books to be available by early June, sometimes there are delays, but definitely they will be distributed before the end of the school year. If you are leaving the school and would like to have a Yearbook posted to you, then please contact the Yearbook Team to find out about arrangements for this. An email is sent out to all and a notification in the newsletter will take place once the books are ready for distribution.
Students who arrive at VIS before mid-March are included in the Yearbook.
Please note that there will only be the number of Yearbooks requested in advance actually ordered, so please take care not to miss out on your copy. If you do not prepay your order you will likely not receive a copy of the Yearbook.
Any queries, please contact us: visyearbook(at)vis.ac.at
The Yearbook Team
Distance Learning Update and Feedback
Many thanks to those parents who have provided feedback after the first week of implementing changes to the Distance Learning Programme which arose from the recent feedback surveys. We endeavoured to capture common themes and questions and address them here.
Spirit Week and Support for Maher
The Primary Student Council is pleased to present Spirit Week from 4 to 8 May. Our Primary Student Councillors have been busy organising various events and activities designed to lift our spirits, connect students together virtually and even help others along the way.
Each day of the week has a particular theme and special event associated with it, some of which are also in support of the students of Maher. While further details will come next week to the community through Seesaw, Google Classroom and ManageBac, please see below for a brief summary of the events planned for the week:
- 4th Monday - “Maher the 4th Be With You!” - Dress up like a Star Wars character and raise money for Maher.
- 5th Tuesday - Maths and Reading Challenge Day - Fun and mind-bending Maths challenges and reading quizzes.
- 6th Wednesday - Hobby Day - If you’ve learned a new skill or took up a new hobby during the period of Distance Learning, share it with the school community and raise money for Maher.
- 7th Thursday - Recipe Day - Share a tasty recipe with others!
- 8th Friday - Courage/ Risk-Taker Day & Get Fit for Maher Day!
Message From the Secondary Principal
A huge congratulations to the Class of 2020, as today was their last official day of school. Below is an extract from an email I just sent to the Class of 2020:
“We are all very proud of your accomplishments at VIS. You all worked hard and deserve more in terms of celebration than we are able to guarantee at this time. We understand that this has not been easy for you at all. We are all so impressed by the way that you have handled this situation.”
We are working hard to ensure that we can celebrate their achievements in an appropriate manner - again, well done!
Thanks to those of you who were able to join the meet the Director's Online Session earlier today. I would like to share with you the answers to some questions that were addressed to the Secondary School directly.
Have a great weekend.
Question 1: What are the school's plans for the Grade 12 graduation ceremony and related events?
As mentioned in a letter that went home to Grade 12 last Friday, we fully understand the need to celebrate the achievements of the class of 2020. We will celebrate the Grade 12s as normal as possible. We will have to see what we are able to do as per guidelines from the Austrian authorities regarding dates and types of events that will be allowed. We will always try to make sure that we can run an event that will be as personal and as face-to-face as possible. We will communicate with Grade 12 parents and students with an update soon.
Question 2: Should school reconvene sometime in May, can the administration please make sure that the students are not overloaded with assessments during the last weeks of school?
Assessment should be ongoing during Distance Learning as well. We will ensure that we communicate to teachers to ensure that they avoid doing this. We also monitor assessment on ManageBac to limit assessments on a given day.
Question 3: Could an opportunity be provided to all students to give positive and constructive feedback to their teachers in the very near future?
A survey will be going out to the community again soon to gather feedback on Distance Learning. We would like to include all Secondary students in this round. I would encourage students to send direct feedback to teachers. I am sure they would appreciate words of encouragement.
Question 4: You have set “off screen “ periods. To my understanding assigned work should be set instead but what happens is that students get to have almost 3 hrs off screen twice a week as FREE PERIODS. doing nothing ... what is the point apart from being “Off screen theoretically” if they are locked down and parents are busy on the other hand with their own work ...!
There is only one time per week where we have scheduled off screen time. This is on a floating schedule that was communicated in last week’s newsletters. In all other cases students should have work assigned whether on screen or off. Please let us know by reaching out to the teacher, Grade Level Leader or the Secondary Principal. Grade 11 students have normal free periods and should have more than enough work to keep them busy.
Question 5: It would be helpful and more beneficial to some kids if the PE department could be more innovative. Some students are more motivated by challenges than doing only workouts.
The PE staff are looking at ways to increase physical activity for students. There is an additional challenge as these are run during the school day and students live in different settings, houses, apartments, gardens, no gardens, close to parks, etc so activities need to be limited so that they are accessible to all students regardless of where they live. I would encourage parents to develop afternoon routines that increase the level of physical activity as well.
Question 6: Is the 2 week deadline for grading of assessments still valid?
This should be the same as in the past. Please let teachers know if you have some concerns.
Question 7: How are parents supposed to know if their child has not registered for class or not handed in work. There has been no communication from the teachers to the parents of the individual ways of handling the attendance.
As during an normal school day, class attendance is being recorded on ManageBac. You should see the attendance for all classes on ManageBac by the end of each school day.
Question 8: We’re hearing that 11th Grade may be the only grade to return to the school in early May. How do you plan to implement social distancing measures amongst this group and how will end of year tests be conducted with these measures in place?
We are acquiring gloves, and masks for all students. There was a press release today that included recommendations with regards to ensuring social distancing in classrooms. We are sure that Grade 11s will also recognize the need to ensure these are followed on their way to school and when they are not in lessons. When students and teachers arrive back to school they will have clear instructions and guidelines.
We Want to Support MAHER From Home – Because We Have One
Deeply concerning news have arrived from MAHER (see video HERE), the children’s charity in India that VIS is supporting for more than 15 years, as part of our corporate responsibility. MAHER is in lockdown mode, very similar to us, but under different circumstances. While we are very lucky to live in a country that successfully manages to keep the COVID situation under control, other countries are struggling. As of today India has registered over 23000 cases with more than 1600 new infections per day.
And while we have a home to stay inside and protected, many people in India don’t even have that. Our friends from Maher are lacking the medical support, the basic safety accessories and cannot easily isolate all the children that they care for and keep them in distance from each other. Additionally, MAHER tries to help wherever possible and has started to give out portions of rice and other goods to the people most in need. A lot of people work for the sugar cane industry and live from hand to mouth. Currently, all work has stopped and countless families have lost their tiny incomes. The pressure on Maher rises every day and we hear that hungry people are desperately banging at their doors. Moreover, their supporters worldwide have already stated that they will not be able to support them like in previous years due to the economic situation. As a result, MAHER stopped the necessary construction works to save some money but nevertheless they are afraid of not being able to cover for all the costs for the many children they care for plus the people in need.
We need your help to make a difference for MAHER!
When: 4 May 2020 – VIS Support Maher Day
Our goal: Many of our fund raising events have been canceled and and we are very short of donations this year. Our goal is to raise about 10. 000 Euros to support Maher in order to enable them to keep providing a home to the ones who need it most and to being able to pay for many of the special expenses this year connected to the current crisis (medicine, higher food prices, masks, etc.)
How can we help: Together with our students, we will look to define ways in which students can individually bring their contribution to this cause, as part of their learning about being a global citizen and helping the ones in need. On May 4th, during screen reduction time, various activities will be run throughout the school, as decided by each grade. The activities should link a physical or other challenging activity for our students with some financial support donated by the families. Apart from being healthy and challenging, the activities are to raise awareness and participation is recommended. Donations are of course voluntarily. More details to follow in the next newsletter.
On behalf of our friends from Maher, we thank you in advance for your generosity and send you our best wishes.
The MAHER team
During these challenging times, it is important to take care of your family's well-being, including mental health. We want to remind families and students that the Primary and Secondary School Counsellors are available online during regular school hours to support the social and emotional aspect of online learning and provide counselling services.
The Primary School parents are welcome to contact the Primary School Counsellor Elizabeth Iino via email (eiino(at)vis.ac.at). In the Secondary School, students and parents have the option of requesting an online appointment with the Secondary Counsellor Kirsty Hantsch by using this form, or contacting the Counsellor via email (khantsch(at)vis.ac.at). For more resources and advice for improving the mental well-being, you are all very welcome to access the website that the school counsellors put together for supporting the VIS community: https://sites.google.com/student.vis.ac.at/vis-wellbeing/home .
We want to congratulate Sreeja Roy, a Grade 9 student, for creating this artwork for the Secondary Library as part of Service and Action.
The quote reflects the fundamental part that the skill reading takes place in our world, as it's not only valuable for vital life abilities such as following along with the news or writing job applications, but also to develop the mind, imagination and creative side of people, as well as enrichen language skills and use the competence to further educate oneselve in any area of life that one is interested in.
Reading is important because words - spoken and written - are the building blocks of life.
We are, right now, the result of words that you have heard or read and believed about yourself. What we will become in the future will depend on the words we believe about ourselves now.
People, families, relationships and even nations are built from words.
Happy Earth Day!
This Wednesday, 22 April, the VIS community celebrated the Earth Day. As an Eco School we are committed every day to create awareness for the need of a sustainable environment and to leave a green print on our planet. We were excited to see how our students are becoming active participants and make positive changes in big and small ways. Thank you for sending us your contributions and for taking care of our Earth!
Over the Spring Break the Grade 6 students took on the challenge of recreating famous painings, inspired by the Getty Museum Challenge. What a wonderful idea for spending your time! We congratulate the talented students for being brave to take on this challenge and for doing an amazing job, as you will be able to see in the gallery below (shared by Nikhil Abel John).
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