A Message from the Head of School
Dear Griffin School Community,
Happy new year! I woke up this morning feeling hopeful about the future and feeling grateful to be in a community that is navigating this challenging time with care and compassion. I hope this winter break has been a time full of relaxation for you and that each of you has been connected to your family and the people you love.
We enter 2021 in a dangerous place in this Covid pandemic. It’s hard to fathom that about 3500 Americans died yesterday on the last day of 2020 because of Covid. In the Austin community, hospitals are near capacity, and we are not doing enough to bend the exponential spread of this virus. Clearly, the first month of this new year is a time to be extremely careful.
The distribution of Covid vaccines is providing hope. I am delighted that school staff members and people with underlying health conditions that put that at significant risk with this virus are both included in Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout. Griffin staff members are likely to get access to their first dose of Covid vaccine in the next week or two. By March, it’s expected that 50-100 million Americans will be inoculated against Covid. With another huge chunk of the population who have some resistance to the virus because they contracted it themselves, the springtime looks to be a time of significantly less anxiety around this pandemic. We are likely to still be masking, distancing, and keeping fresh outdoor air circulating through the end of the school year, but things promise to be much, much better by then.
Okay, so let’s not get sick with Covid this month! We need to stay vigilant for the next 8 weeks in order to get to a time when can really see the positive impact of mass vaccinations in our community.
Remote Learning To Start the Semester
Austin Public Health is recommending that middle and high schools be in a remote learning mode for two weeks after the winter break. With that in mind, Griffin School will do so. All classes will be online through January 15. (Note that January 15th is the day we will be doing all-school and online activities related to MLK Day, and there are no classes scheduled that day.)
On January 19, we will start back on campus with 11th and 12th graders. 9th and 10th graders will be back on campus the following week, and we will sustain a two-week cycle going forward.
A Comment About Excessive Screen Time
One thing we recognized by the end of the fall semester is that excessive screen time is something that needs to be addressed going forward. For both students and staff members, the wear-and-tear of all of that work on computer screens was a challenge. With that in mind, teachers are working on activities and assignments that provide the option for pencil-paper work or hands-on work that does not require a computer. It will be up to students to choose these off-screen options (and to step away from their laptops when they are not working) to get a break for their eyes and their brains. It is also important to note that most schoolwork will continue to be done on computers – there is just no feasible way to eliminate much of the on-screen work that is inherent to online classes.
Deep Breath Weekends and Late-Start Days Added
As we lean into the 2nd half of this school year, we know it will continue to be stressful for students, parents, and staff. Online and hybrid schooling is hard on all of us. With that in mind, we are adding two additional long weekends (we call these “Deep Breath Weekends and encourage teachers to reduce homework assignments to the extent possible) into the calendar. The additional days off will be Monday, Feb 1, and Friday, Apr 16.
We are also adding four days when classes will start at 10am to provide a bit more space in the schedule. These late start days will be on Wednesdays with that day’s Block C class moving to Friday in place of Skills Workshops. The late start days will be:
• Feb 3
• Feb 24
• Apr 7
• May 12
We will include updates about all days off and late-start days in Caroline’s weekly email so students, parents, and staff can keep track.
Thanks to all of you for your patience, engagement, and support through this school year! Although it will surely continue to be a challenging time, let’s approach it with confidence in our inner strength and resilience, a commitment to our own health and wellness, and with a spirit of support for each other. Looking forward to a beautiful springtime ahead!
Adam Wilson, Head of School
January 1, 2021
How To Contact Us
If your student or family has any specific needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us—we’re on call for you! We’re now calling email@example.com the “Griffin Hotline” and it’s the quickest way to reach us. Email the Hotline to report absences during online school hours, to report technical issues during an online class or if you can’t locate a class link, or for anything else you need.
For questions about admissions or shadowing (we’re doing online shadows!), email Caroline Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where Do I Find the Latest Information?
To stay up-to-date on school information, current students and families should stay tuned to their “This Week at Griffin” emails. In addition, many people are finding the “Griffin Today” on the Pin To Mind Go app useful during this period to see the daily calendar, bell schedule, and information about upcoming events. Refer to your “This Week at Griffin” emails for more information on how to sign up for the app.
Our Faculty Ready to Greet Students!