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American International School of Bamako

Vol. 14.9   March 03, 2020

From the Director

Dear Parents, 

Although there are no reported cases of coronavirus in Mali at this time, AISB is keeping a close eye on developments and has prepared for the possibility of coronavirus in the country.  
 
The school is in contact with the medical office of the US Embassy to ensure that our protocols for responding to the threat of coronavirus are appropriate and effective now, and as the situation evolves. We have also confirmed that we have the equipment and people in place to be able to activate these protocols as needed. The protocols outline increasing levels of response “as and if” the threat from coronavirus increases, and they address how and when we will, for example:
  • Introduce handwash stations and fever checkpoints at the gate; this will happen immediately, once a case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Bamako
  • Control access to the campus  and limit gatherings of the AISB community, at key points in the trajectory of the disease
  • Adjust campus operations
  • Educate students, staff and parents -as in this newsletter, but also through classroom lessons and reminders for students on hand washing, covering coughs, and reporting symptoms
  • Activate AISB’s Virtual School (that is, online learning) in the event of school closure -- see the article later in this newsletter
  • Communicate within the AISB community. Please ensure that the contact information sent out in the updated AISB Directory for you is correct. The updated directory will be sent out in the next week
  • Provide emergency care on campus.
 
In this special newsletter, you will find articles with more details on these areas of focus. Please see the WHO page of frequently asked questions on coronavirus, here.
 
And...school life goes on! In this newsletter you’ll also find information about the upcoming Board elections, our grade 12 students’ early acceptances, the upcoming talent show, standards-based report cards, the reading program at the Sleeping Camel, and much more. 
 
See you at school... as long as you're not coughing :-)

Brad
 
Upcoming Events
  • Career Day: March 20th
  • Talent Show: March 27th
  • Spring Break: March 28-April 5
  • Campus visit of Dr. Stacy Rosie (incoming Director): April 7-11
  • MAP testing: April 15-30
  • Quarter 3 report cards go home: April 16th

Absences: Taking care of the AISB Community

We will be taking extra care to monitor the health of our students at this time.  The WHO advises the following: 

“Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.”

If your child is not feeling well, please do not send them to school. Children who exhibit symptoms similar to coronavirus will be sent to the nurse’s office, for immediate pickup by parents. 


If you suspect that anyone in your household has coronavirus, it is essential that:
  • You keep your child at home, and 
  • You inform us that your child will be absent, and why.
Please call Oumou to keep the school informed! 

If your child is home from school and AISB Virtual School has not been activated, your child’s teacher will gladly work with you to ensure that your child’s learning is not interrupted. 

Important Health Update: From the Nurse’s Office

Dear Parents,

In order to prevent as much as possible any communication of  coronavirus COVID-19 within the AISB community, we will ask you to help us apply the following preventive measures:
  • Review the CDC guidelines for good hand hygiene at home, and also see the instructions for effective handwashing, which has also been explained to children at school. Effective handwashing is an essential step for preventing the transmission of coronavirus. And be sure to set a good example yourself!
  • Keep sick children at home until they are completely well.  

Please reassure your child
With all the talk going on, children may become alarmed about coronavirus.If your child should become anxious, it is very important to remind them that most people do not become seriously ill with coronavirus -- in fact, many people never know that they have coronavirus at all. Handwashing and coughing protocols are in place to help us to protect the most vulnerable members of society - that is, older people, and anyone whose immune system is compromised. 
 
If your child is worried about coronavirus, please let us know. Contact your child’s teacher and Nurse Djouma (ddrame@aisbmali.org). We will help to reassure them.
 
Teaching About Coronavirus
Corona virus is transmitted via droplets, which exit the mouth of a person carrying coronavirus when she or he coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets may be inhaled directly by another person, or may remain on objects or surfaces where others may pick them up. 
 
So at school, we will be teaching your child appropriate hygiene, including: 
  1. Frequently clean your hands
  2. Cover your cough with the bend of elbow or a tissue (sneeze like Dracula!)
It is also recommended by the WHO to maintain a distance of a minimum of one meter (some doctors recommend two meters) from anyone who is coughing, sneezing or who appears sick.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus are:
  • fever
  • tiredness 
  • dry cough
Some patients also experience:
  • aches and pains
  • nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • sore throat, or
  • diarrhea.
The symptoms of coronavirus are usually mild, and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms, and don't feel unwell at all.  
You will have seen information about coronavirus in the news media; but we have shared more information, from the WHO, here
 
AISB will take all possible precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus within the community. If a case of coronavirus occurs in Mali:
  • Children or adults with fever will not be allowed to enter the school.
  • Children who develop a fever with a cough or cold while at school will wear a surgical mask and be separated from other students until parents quickly pick them up.
 
We count on your participation in the application of these rules to ensure the maintenance of your children in a healthy and secure space. 
 
Thank you
 
Nurse Djouma

AISB Virtual School

AISB Virtual School
The goal of Virtual School is to allow education to continue with minimal disruption during unplanned school closures. Working together, parents and teachers can make sure that learning goes on, and that kids have regular contact with their teachers and friends even if we can’t be all together at school. Virtual School has an important role in promoting students’ well-being: when the unexpected happens, a regular learning routine, with contact with their teachers and friends, can help students to maintain their own sense of well-being. 

How it works
Elementary students access the Virtual School through SeeSaw, Secondary students through Google Classroom. Teachers create daily lessons for home learning, and post lessons and resources by 9am each morning. Students submit their completed work and receive feedback from their teachers, online. Teachers remain accessible by phone and email throughout the day to answer questions and provide help and feedback on student learning. 

Families must contact the school if they are experiencing difficulties with Virtual School. In the event of a school closure, AISB students are expected to participate in Virtual School, to the greatest extent possible. Families without an internet connection, or who are experiencing any other difficulties with Virtual School, should contact their child’s teachers directly to make alternative arrangements. All faculty and staff are on hand, every day, and expecting to hear from parents by email or phone. They will help students and parents to work out practical solutions so that learning carries on smoothly. 

Virtual School isn’t exactly like on-site school. 
During Virtual School, teachers provide students with learning experiences designed for home-learning --  some of which will be very like what they usually do in school, and some of which may be quite different. Teachers provide lots of support materials to help students learn independently, and may organize group chats, recorded demonstrations or “live lessons” to run at a pre-arranged hour of the day for any student who can join in virtually. 

A break in the usual routine can be exciting -- and challenging. Your child may find that learning at home is faster than learning at school; he may also find it frustrating or lonely. Check in with your child every day, to make sure things are moving smoothly and they have what they need to learn happily and well at home. See the guidelines below for some age-appropriate suggestions.


AISB Elementary Virtual School: Make it work!
  • Do what it takes to make Virtual School special and fun. Virtual School is more likely to be successful if your child sees it as a chance to take a break from the usual routine, learn in a new environment, and share their learning experience with you. Your child’s teacher will be designing learning experiences that will keep your child engaged and learning on track. It won’t be exactly like regular school -- which is fine. In fact, some kinds of learning are better done at home. Help your child get ready for some innovative, creative learning experiences.
  • Be prepared. Have a computer set up for your child’s access. Make sure your internet connection is working as effectively as possible. Have a stock of lined and blank paper at home, with writing, drawing, cutting and pasting, and coloring materials handy. 
  • Make a Virtual School space for your child. Having a special place to work can help make Virtual School successful. Set up a table or desk for working, with a comfortable chair, in a central area of the house. Make it tidy and attractive -- this is your child’s office! 
  • Parents have important work to do, too. Consider establishing a family workspace: working alongside mom and dad might help your child see the value in his or her own work. And your child will probably be thrilled to be included in the important work of the family.
  • Establish a reasonable learning schedule. Virtual School is more successful when parents establish a regular routine for learning and working at home. Who would deny that starting a little later in the morning might be terrific for everyone, for a change? But don’t let the day slip away. If your child knows that Virtual School starts straight after breakfast every weekday, then it’s easier for everyone. Save “weekend” activities such as movies until after formal learning has finished for the day. 
  • Follow the planned schedule -- flexibly. Your child’s teachers will suggest a learning schedule for each day’s lessons, that reflects the regular school schedule. But each child and each family is different, and learning at home is not exactly the same as learning at school. Parents should adapt the schedule to suit the needs of the child and the family. If there’s a museum trip or an ice-cream expedition happening, by all means postpone the math! It will keep. 
  • Be available, and help your child work independently. Your child may need your help each morning to get set up and organized. Elementary students will also probably need help to access their Virtual School learning activities, to follow through with the planned lessons, and to upload their completed work. But older elementary students often work independently at school, and should feel comfortable to learn independently at home, too. Be available as appropriate, to help with questions, to encourage your child to stick with it -- and especially to admire your child’s accomplishments and progress.
  • Make sure your child takes frequent breaks from sitting. Staying active is important for all young people (for all people, in fact!) and students, even during Virtual School, should not be spending all day sitting at the computer. Build regular breaks into the schedule, with snacks and exercise to help keep young brains active and engaged. Avoid “video” breaks, since they are not active for the brain or body. Children have a hard time returning to “learning” mode after being in “video watching” mode, so save video and computer games for after formal learning is finished for the day. 
  • Avoid using incentives or giving rewards for learning. If your child is not ready to do her lessons at that moment -- fine! It can wait a bit. Tempting as it is, promising your child rewards for reading or math discourages learning for its own sake, and sends the message that reading and math are not really worthwhile. Instead, make plans for what you’ll do together, after Virtual School has finished for the day -- before the argument starts. 
  • Virtual School doesn’t mean spending all day sitting at the computer. Virtual School daily learning plans will be posted by 9am each day. While some of your child’s Virtual School lessons will have components for reading, watching or “doing” online, many will simply provide a resource and a set of learning tasks. Learning tasks will involve a range of activities, including reading, writing, exercising, discussing, drawing, going outside, investigating, listening, and more. 
  • No tears at the table! Your child’s teachers will provide guidance on how much time each lesson should require. If a lesson is taking much longer, it’s a sign that it’s time for a break -- your child can’t learn well when she’s feeling frustrated or tired. And if your child has had enough for today, that’s fine!  
  • If your family has traveled, take advantage of cultural learning opportunities, museums, galleries, parks or the theatre. School closures, while never desirable, can offer families an unexpected but valuable opportunity to extend their child’s learning beyond school walls. If you are planning a museum or gallery visit, let your child’s teacher know! She or he will be able to help you make it a rich learning experience. And your child can share the experience with his friends and classmates.
  • Most of all: be in touch with your child’s teacher if you are having difficulties with Virtual School. Contact your child’s teacher, and Brad Waugh, if your child seems to be struggling with any aspect of Virtual School. No internet connection? Don’t understand the reading assignment? Teachers are expecting to hear from you, and will gladly help to work out practical solutions. 

Secondary Students, this is for you!!
  • All secondary students are expected to complete their Virtual School planned learning every day. But...
  • Virtual School doesn’t mean spending all day sitting at the computer. Virtual School daily learning plans will be posted by 9am each day. Some Virtual School lessons will have online components for reading, watching or “doing”, but many will simply provide a resource and a set of learning tasks. Learning tasks will involve a range of activities, including reading, research, writing, exercising, discussing, drawing, investigating, listening, and more. Expect some creative solutions for home learning.
  • Stay active! Build regular breaks into your schedule, with plenty of exercise to help keep your brain active and engaged. Avoid “video” breaks, since they are not active for your brain or body. Save video and computer games for after formal learning is finished for the day. 
  • Establish a work space that is not in your bedroom. Studying in your bedroom can interfere with your sleep habits. If you don’t already have a working space that is separate from your sleeping space, now’s the time to fix that. Set yourself up with a quiet space, a good table, a comfortable chair, and plenty of light. Put a plant on the table for company, and get ready to be a scholar!
  • Establish a reasonable learning schedule. Virtual School is more successful when students establish a regular routine for learning and working at home. Who would deny that starting a little later in the morning might be good for everyone, for a change? But don’t let the day slip away. Make a schedule, and stick to it -- you’ll find it all much more enjoyable. Save “weekend” activities such as movies until after your formal learning has finished for the day. 
  • Take advantage of travel. If your family has traveled, great! Work in the morning and go to a museum or an art gallery in the afternoon. Experience the forest! That’s learning too. And let your teachers know what you’re up to, so they can help you take advantage of new learning opportunities.
  • Learn with a friend. Virtual School can get lonely -- so try scheduling working periods with a friend, even if you’re in different places. Why not study together over Skype? Make it a group chat!
  • Having trouble? Be in touch with your teachers. All students are expected to participate in Virtual School. No internet connection? Don’t understand the assignment? Forgot your book at school? Your teachers are expecting to hear from you, and will help you to work out practical solutions. 

How is AISB’s Virtual School system activated?
In the event of a school closure, the Director will send an email through the schools all-parent list announcing the activation of Virtual School. If you received the email notice for this newsletter, you are on the all-parent list. If not, then you should contact Mariam Keita (mkeita@aisbmali.org) to be added to the list. 

From the Counselor's Office: Handling worry and nervousness about coronavirus

As parents, we often worry about what will happen to us and our family. Living overseas can heighten these concerns due to safety, political stability, and now the recent rise in reported cases of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus.
 
When the news covers the outbreak of the virus, it is completely normal for people to become anxious and worry about their family and their health. But this anxiety can have a serious effect on your mental and physical health.
 
Here are a few ways you can cope with the feelings of nervousness around the virus:
 
Take a break from the news
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about the information you’re receiving about the virus, try to limit your media consumption. I would recommend filtering where you get your news. For example, rather than watching Fox News or CNN, that focus on the more terrifying aspects of the virus, I would look at the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control that offer the whole picture of what’s happening. While it’s important to stay connected and updated to what’s happening, too much news consumption can have a negative impact on you and your wellbeing.
 
Try to be present in the moment
Sometimes your fear can take over and it can be difficult to remain in the present moment. The unknown surrounding the coronavirus can be scary, but it’s helpful to focus on the here and now. Positive affirmations can help. “I am healthy today. I live a healthful life. I am at peace. I feel calm. I have control over my life and my emotions.”
 
Remind yourself of what you can control
While we may not have control over what is happening, we do have power over ourselves and our actions. It’s important to remind ourselves of the small steps we can take to prevent infection not only of the coronavirus, but of other colds and flus. Practice good hand hygiene, and encourage the same behavior of your children. Be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms, and be prepared to consult your doctor immediately should similar symptoms in your family.
 
Practice gratitude
When the world feels catastrophic and gloomy, it can be a good idea to point out the things in your life that you are thankful for to help bring perspective to the situation. Practicing moments of gratitude can help keep you grounded in the present moment and help you be appreciative for what is good and right in your life right now. Consider making a mental list every day or writing them down in your journal or diary.
 
Reach out for help
It’s natural to feel anxiety and other emotions amid this global health crisis. But it doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. Reach out to friends and family to work through these feelings and to seek comfort.
 
If you’re finding that these feelings are getting worse and interfering with your ability to sleep or concentrate, please reach out to me. I am available to help you sort out your feelings and concerns, help you find ways to ease the concerns in your children, or just be a sympathetic ear.
 
Send me an email at ehenderson@aisbmali.org to make an appointment or stop by if you have time during morning drop off. I am here to help.
 
Be well,
 
Elmeka Henderson
School Counselor

The AISB Board of Trustees and AGM

The AISB Board of Trustees will host the Annual General Meeting and AISB Board Elections on May 14, 2020. 

The Call for Nominations for the election will go out late in April, but in the meantime, the Board is eager to talk to anyone interested in serving as a Trustee. Keep an eye out for upcoming “Get to Know the Board” events, and take a minute to watch this video of our students inviting AISB  parents to serve as Trustees. (The video, by the way, is compelling -- who could say no to these kids?!)

Who is eligible to run for the Board?
  • The AISB Board is comprised of seven voting members and there are five openings this year.
  • The Director and the US ambassador’s representative are non-voting ex-officio members.
  • Terms are for one or two years - candidates nominate their preference.
  • All AISB parents (except employees of the school or their immediate family) are eligible to run for the board
 Board responsibilities
The major responsibilities of the Board are:
  • Hiring and evaluating the Director
  • Reviewing, revising and approving the long term strategic plans and goals for school growth and improvement
  • Reviewing, revising and approving school policies
  • Approving and monitoring school budgets
  • Monitoring school performance and student achievement
  • Actively listening and responding to constituents concerns on the above
To fulfill these responsibilities Trustees are expected to attend monthly Board meetings and committee meetings, typically also about once a month.  Board meetings are conducted in English.
 
Interested?
If you are interested in learning more about the Board, feel free to contact the Board at board@aisbmali.org, or the Director at bwaugh@aisbmali.org. You can also read more about the work of the Board on the school website, by looking under the “About AISB” tab.

College Counseling

Hello AISB college community!
The hard work that our seniors put into their college applications is starting to pay off! Here is a list of our students’ University acceptances that have been received thus far:
  • Greenwich University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • John Cabot University
  • Trent University
  • Humber College
  • Carleton University
  • Seneca College
  • Memorial University
  • Many more to come!
We are very proud of our seniors! The job’s not finished, though --  our students are now  working hard to finish the year strong, and  ready for their University experience.
 
The PSAT
Our 9th and 10th grade students will be taking the PSAT on Wednesday March 18th from 730 AM - 12 noon during the school day.
 
Students should make every effort to arrive at school on time on that day! They will need to have a number 2 pencil and a calculator for the test. But other than that, 
the PSAT is a practice test, and nothing to worry about. This test gives insight on the student’s progression towards the SAT, and areas that they should be focusing their study efforts on over the next two or three years. AISB students take the PSAT during their 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.  
 
Our Juniors have also been preparing themselves for future University careers. For 11th grade students, here are some important things to remember:
  • SAT Registration Deadline April 3, 2020
  • Students take SAT May 2, 2020
  • Scores released on or around May 15, 2020 (A little later for International test takers)
  • TOEFL test: Students should write this test before the end of this year (if needed)
If you have questions regarding your child’s college application process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch... (tdarcy@aisbmali.org). I’ll be glad to hear from you.

Coffee with the Counselor

Dear Parents, 

I am looking forward to talking with you this week about ways we can care for ourselves to be more available to our children. We will be discussing building a foundation in caring for ourselves, discuss how we can incorporate more time for ourselves and our loved ones, and looking into accessible ways to manage stress while living overseas.

I look forward to seeing you either tomorrow evening at 7pm or on Friday morning for coffee. Additional information about future topics you will find in the attached flyers. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Be well,

Elmeka

AISB Talent Show

Sign up by February 28
  • Auditions March 5
  • Show on March 27th

AISB Grade 11 students reflect on their Internship experience

Storytime at The Sleeping Camel

Our first Storytime at The Sleeping Camel event in January was a great success! There were bubbles and several books were read aloud including a West African tale with music from DJ Sakopapa. Our next Storytime is Sunday, March 15th at 15:00. Please bring a book if you would like to read in a small group with your child(ren) and their friends before or after the read aloud stories. You are also invited to bring a book if you would like to read aloud to the whole group. 
 
THE SLEEPING CAMEL is located at Badalabougou, corner of Rue 25 and Rue 18. For more information about the Sleeping Camel, click here. Please note that the event is not posted on the Bamako Friends Facebook page, for security reasons. If you have any questions, please send them to jgibson@aisbmali.org.
 
See you there!
AISB on Facebook
Website
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