Published for the Arts Based School Community
August 19, 2021
How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert
“The kids will be about it the way you are about it.” - Old ABS adage
Welcome back, friends! We all share the excitement, anticipation, jitters, and the desire to do good under any circumstances that come our way. All of the planning and preparation, which has been our main focus, fades into its rightful, structural backdrop position when we see the children arriving. Such joy!
The last time we had a “first day back” it was in April, when we were just emerging from months of remote-only classes. Although we are still wearing masks, it feels different. The teachers are accustomed to safety precautions and have confidently folded them into their daily procedures, understanding that this is what it will take for us to be in school.
Because the teachers are able to smoothly guide students through these expectations, the students are able to smoothly comply. And so our students arrived displaying the usual first day array of emotions. We witnessed excited (socially distanced) reunions of friends, shy newcomers, bold newcomers, wide-open Kindergarten eyes, self-confident 8th graders. Mini-parades of Kindergarten students were led through the office by their teacher tour-guides, who explained, “This is Miss Hannah. You might visit her sometime to say you need a band-aid, or to ask if she would call your mom or dad…”
This was all the same as any first day of school. Although we continually sense the backdrop of caution and vigilance, we gratefully welcome the reason for it all: your children, and our opportunity to support them as they learn, create, play, and do.
We know that we can choose the lenses through which we evaluate these days, and the lenses we choose will impact our students, our colleagues, our parents, and ourselves. We are so happy to be back.
Starting the New School Year
Hello to all our new and returning families! The ABS Board has approved the ABS Health and Safety Plan. This plan is based on the COVID protocols required and/or recommended by the Strong Schools NC Public Toolkit, updated Aug 18, 2021. NCDHHS has also provided a FAQ document for families regarding COVID safety.
Here are a few things to know…
All students will participate in in-person learning on a regular, full-time schedule.
We are unable to provide remote learning for students enrolled at ABS. As a charter school, we are not permitted to conduct virtual learning.
Students and staff will maintain social distancing of 3 feet between K-8 students within school settings to the greatest extent possible without excluding students from full-time, in-person learning.
All students, staff, and visitors will wear masks while inside the school building.
Masks will not be required during outside activities.
Parent volunteers will be permitted to volunteer at the school, but are required to wear a mask inside regardless of vaccination status.
Students will be permitted to attend field trips and be transported by bus to field trips. Students will wear masks while riding the bus, and will be socially distanced.
Daily symptom screenings are no longer required at school. Parents are asked to keep students home who have a fever or symptoms of illness.
Surveillance COVID testing will be available to ABS from NCDHHS in September for no cost. Grant funding may also be available for nursing services, if testing is implemented. More information is below.
How Do I Stay Up to Date with School Health and Safety Plans?
We’re doing our best to keep ABS families, staff, and community updated with the latest information about our health and safety plans as the requirements continue to be adjusted based on current COVID spread and the latest science. We will continue to provide information in multiple places, including direct email, Thursday Notes, and Virtual Parent Meetings. If you have specific topics or questions, please send them to us via this form so we can be sure to address them. In case you missed the Virtual Parent Meeting, you can watch the recording or review the slideshow to learn more about the COVID safety and mitigation protocols.
COVID Screening at ABS
At Arts Based School, we seek to maintain a safe environment for students, staff, families, and the community. To support those goals, we have partnered with Concentric by Ginkgo to provide an optional and free pooled testing program.
But first, we need your help! We are requesting each family to participate in this program to help safeguard the wellbeing of our entire school community. Please sign the consent request linked below and read the attached overview from Concentric to answer some questions you may have.
We anticipate weekly testing in all classrooms beginning Tuesday, August 31. This has been shifted by a week to allow time for the vendor to ship materials. A virtual parent information session will be Friday, August 20 at 12 noon. If you have not received an evite and want to attend, please email email@example.com. So far we have 40% of our students participating in the program with signed consent forms.
To get started, please fill out the consent form with your permission to perform a COVID-19 pooled test for your student at ABS. This process should take no more than 5 minutes to complete using a computer or a smartphone.
- First, click here (https://testcenter.concentricbyginkgo.com/minor-consent).
- Then, enter this access code: 42DLUR
- Finally, enter your child’s information, and you’re done!
Note: If you need to provide consent for more than one child, please complete the process once for each child.
What is pooled testing?
Pooling can test 25 people using one test. All students in a class swab their own noses and place their swabs in a single tube (that’s the pooling step). The samples in that tube are then run as a single sample, using one test. See it in action here.
Why pooled testing? Why should my student participate?
You know the old saying: “knowledge is power.” Tools like pooled testing empower us to make great decisions. Without knowing the specific prevalence of COVID-19 in our school, it’s tough for us to make informed decisions about safeguarding our school community, returning to school, or continuing in-person learning.
Only students with completed consent forms are able to participate in testing. If you do not want your family to participate, your student will not be included in the testing program. Though, we hope you do!
Testing empowers us to make these informed decisions about in-person learning and allows students, teachers, and staff to come to school with peace of mind.
To learn more about pooled testing, read the attached overview of Concentric’s pooled testing program and watch this video from another school using this service.
For more information, visit Concentric by Ginkgo’s website or reach out to Principal Hollis, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our side door is the main entrance for children in both buildings. It is locked at 8:15 in the morning. If you arrive after 8:15, you must park your car in the lot (please do not park in the fire lane next to the school) and walk your child to the front office.
In order to keep our building secure, we ask that you please do not open our side doors for anyone after they are locked. If you are exiting through the side doors and someone is waiting there, ask them kindly to enter through the front. Thank you!
Traffic Volunteers are needed for school days! Please email Donna Brown, dbrown@artsbasedschool, if you can help tame the traffic in the mornings (7:45-8:15am) and in the afternoons (2:30-3:00pm).
Parking Lot Safety
Here are a few safety reminders and procedures to ensure the safety of our students and families in the school parking lot when school begins.
- Please drive slowly and cautiously through the school parking lot at all times.
- Do not use cell phones while in our parking lot.
- Watch for children and adults in the parking lot.
- Please allow extra time the first week as parents and children become accustomed to the routine.
- Please be kind and courteous to parking lot helpers.
- Please be responsible for explaining the drop off/pick up procedures to your after school daycare vans or anyone else who may be picking up your children.
- Remember to enter only on Chestnut St. (by the white church) during pick-up and drop-off.
Please review the traffic map for more information about drop off and pick up procedures.
Of course, it’s nearly impossible to replace our great teachers, but our ABS subs do a mighty fine job when the need arises. Our school uses our own pool of subs and we’re always looking for patient, kind, and reliable people to add to our list. If you are interested in subbing at ABS, please reach out to Stephanie LeFever to learn more about it.
Looking for more information about our school?
Check out our website! You can find a form to pay your student activity fee, and much more! As an ABS parent, you also have access to the Parent Portal section of our website, where you can access directories, handbooks, a volunteer hours form, and detailed information about a host of topics. Last year’s password will expire on Monday, August 23, but you should have received the new login and password with your class lists. If you need help accessing the portal, please email Leah Lavin.