COVID - 19 » Updates from the Head of School

Updates from the Head of School

 
 
HOS

Dear Baldwin Community,


When I was younger, I partnered with an outdoor camp working with students from different schools focused on life skills through experiential education. Their motto always struck me, branded on the back of their t-shirts, and lived through the activities and lessons in every moment:


Work Hard

Play Hard

Work Safe 

Play Fair


Just as we did several weeks ago with the OECC and Elementary Fun days, today we played hard in the M/US at SportFest 2022. The performances in our Pennock Field House were superb, and they were clearly a result of long hours of working hard through rehearsing, coordination, and perseverance. As one upperclassman noted to me, “I am spent and feel like a car at the end of a Grand Prix (the senior dance theme)”


With that, I wonder about the concept of living in hyper drive. As a society-at-large, we need to be mindful of the obsession to constantly feel productive; yes, as a school we are instilling the values of discipline, time management, risk-taking, and being principled. However, the balance in all of that is paramount, and often a struggle for many students (and adults). This is nothing new, but the demands of our lives, and our students’ lives, have increased in these last few years with external measures, and so has the pressure to keep up. It is critical that we understand the importance of being able to set boundaries and switch off. This vacation is purposeful not just for your children to break away from school, but providing the space for your children to play, no matter the age, and switch off from a rigorous schedule. I hope you are able to find the time to do the same with them.


Even as we return from the break, rather than continue in the cult of productivity, we will strive instead to reflect on our worth and value, and understand and appreciate our achievements. We will make our boundaries clear and build our resilience - and teach our students to do the same - so we can continue to create a healthy community where we sustain each other through challenging times.


Most importantly, I hope the time ahead for you is as fun as we have had today during SportsFest. Enjoy the time with your children.


Sincerely,


Greg MacGilpin, Jr.

Head of School

Dear Baldwin Community,

While my intention for this week’s Learning aHead was to focus on recent activities and learning, from FUN Days to solid journalism by our student newspaper and continued awareness students have brought to the invasion in Ukraine, I ask that you take a moment to read the following information concerning COVID and our recent cases in our School.

  • We have had a total of 15 cases related to the sixth grade over the past 10 days, including one student in grade 8, and 2 faculty members. We also know that some family members of the sixth grade have been sick. Our investigation concluded that there was transmission on campus, most likely prior to March 11. Most of these students are ending their quarantine period today and we are grateful that the sixth grade held classes online to curb the spread and look forward to class on campus.
  • This week, Baldwin’s health team has met twice on campus with the Department of Health (DoH) and their investigative units to discuss our current situation and to review our protocols. They are pleased with the implementation of the protocols, however, they also were clear that the outbreak at Baldwin, as defined by DoH as 10% more at a grade level or school, is of high concern and specific measures must be in place.
  • At this point in time, our primary focus is to ensure that we mitigate the spread to prevent any further campus closures to classrooms, grades, and our School.
  • Given the situation, and as part of the DoH protocols, next Wednesday, March 23, the DoH will hold a testing clinic on our campus. The DoH randomly selects students from the BioPortal.
  • While the most recent Executive Order allows us as individuals to be less restrictive, the guidance for schools has not changed drastically, and at Baldwin, we are reinforcing indoor masks and social distancing during this period of COVID transmission.
 

Our health team has been exceptional at fielding your questions, coordinating with the epidemiologist of three municipalities, and keeping our children safe during the day. It is also clear that whenever families are not proactive in sharing information or following our protocols, positive cases and external oversight will occur. It is imperative that each of us consider that we are part of the larger Baldwin and Puerto Rican communities. Should the current COVID situation change, we will communicate accordingly. In the meantime:

  1. If your child has any symptoms, do not bring them to campus.
  2. Honest communication with our Health Team when a child is sick or when they are tested is paramount. Always make sure to send any results to Healthy Baldwin and Resultados Safetrac.
  3. Wristbands and health checks as required to attend classes.
  4. We will require isolation or quarantine based on the DoH’s guidance.

Lastly, all of our individual behaviors affect the reputation of our school. We need to be able to demonstrate to the wider community that we can lead with others in taking effective measures to protect all. Thank you for joining me in that optimistic effort.

Sincerely,
Greg L. MacGilpin, Jr.
Head of School

Dear Baldwin Community,

There are many moments in the day that inspire me and my colleagues; perhaps few compare to the entire Middle and Upper school standing in solidarity under the mango tree as they did today.

Over the past week, there have been many discussions on our campus with all ages around the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  We have families connected to those in the conflict and we have MANY students and adults with it on our collective mind. Today, one of our seniors spoke passionately and courageously about her experience. You can see the full video here. Towards the end, she asked all of us to research and learn about Ukraine, think about the sources we take our news from, and do what you can as everything helps.

While many of our lives may seem far from Ukraine, we must make space and do whatever we can to make sure that all of our students feel safe, cared for, and heard. We know that children have a lot on their mind and may not always share it. Listening is never a mistake. And, as expected, our faculty have already been doing so here on campus. Here are some of the samples from classrooms and spaces all over our school facilitating our students’ thinking:

  • In our kindergarten classrooms, (after hearing parents say that there was a war), our teachers conducted an inquiry about what was happening and asked them what they thought about it. Some of the thoughts made by students were: "They are not resolving their problems", "People should resolve their conflicts by talking and saying sorry", "They should respect others", "They are not showing empathy because they are sad", "They are not kind".
  • Our 5th grade was starting a unit on Conflict using the Transdisciplinary theme of ‘how we organize ourselves’. They already started the provocation with the current situation in Ukraine, beginning with WWI-WWII; the students will be able to make strong connections to nationalism and militarism of the countries involved in the present as well.
  • Within MYP classrooms, we begin by answering the questions: “What do I know about the conflict/invasion of Ukraine? What do I want to know about the conflict/invasion of Ukraine.” We are also using the time to go over key international relations terms that they hear in the news but do not necessarily understand (ex- sanctions, soft-diplomacy, sovereignty, bilateral/multilateral, etc.).
  • In Individuals and Societies classes: “We have had conversations about the current situations in Ukraine with all 9th graders since I teach US history. They asked/commented: “can the United States use Puerto Rico as a negotiation tool (land) with Russia? What is the relationship between US Imperialism (for example, helping in dethroning the Hawaiian kingdom, the military intervention in the Philippines at the end of the 19th century) and Russian imperialism today? My stress levels are elevated by the current situation.”
  • In SSL 5 classes: Students came from the weekend wanting to talk about Ukraine. We pushed the day's lesson aside and we opened CNN en español. Students browsed the stories and chose one that they wanted to read as a class. Students took turns reading, asking about vocabulary, and discussing the situation completely in Spanish. They were not very informed when they arrived, but rather anxious and scared. At the end of class, we discussed how we can protect our mental health when the news and overall state of the world are overwhelming.
  • Our 4th grade unit of inquiry is on how we express ourselves:
    4th graders have been exploring factors that influence risk taking. We are currently learning about the American Revolution and we have made connections to our current events. Our next step is deciding which “forms or expressions” could be used to “help” the Ukrainians.
  • Our MODEL UN team joined a #standwithUkraine rally while attending their conference in Washington D.C., and was fortunate to listen to a speech given by one of our Baldwin parents. Our team has come back and continued discussion in their club and classrooms, and joined forces to plan the rally.
  • And today, a combination of Foundation de COCO, MODEL UN, and a dedicated group of students organized a walk out to show solidarity for Ukraine; this was in conjunction with other schools locally here in Puerto Rico and with other international schools. We have chosen to send all proceeds to CARE Ukraine Crisis Fund, an organization dedicated to and the greatest % of funds going directly to those in need. If you want to donate to others, here is a document: “Navigating the information: Ukraine” one of our students started about news and charities.
 

It is predictable that in the days and weeks ahead, the intensity of the situation and the media coverage will continue. Here are two thoughts along the lines of how to think about the media we consume and speaking with your children if/when they want to discuss any of it:
 
  • First, consider your sources. One of the threads in conversations for older students and our observations as teachers is how our reliance on social media platforms for news has made judging the accuracy of our sources a genuine challenge. For your consideration, Mike Caulfield has been working in the field of information literacy for years and offers a straightforward 4-step method, SIFT, to steer students (and other online information seekers like parents who need support) towards reliable and verifiable sources. His recent Twitter thread specifically on following news of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict is also helpful.
 
Lastly, the Peshersk International School, an IB World School like us in Kyiv, has launched a student-driven art movement, the main goal of which is to unite people across the globe in support of Ukraine and the anti-war movement. As of now, they received 150+ submissions in the padlet (virtual map where people can pin their artwork). If you and/or your child have time in the days ahead to create and send, it is another showing of support from Puerto Rico. Follow directions here.

May we all be able to experience peace in the days ahead.

Best,

Greg

Dear Baldwin Community,

With COVID on all of our minds coming back to this semester, it is easy for all of us to get caught in a negative spiral. And once in that spiral, it can be very difficult to get out. The emotional roller coaster we have been on - of being at the brink of life returning to 'normal' and then having it pulled away once again – may take its toll on us. As educators and adults who work with children every day, this uncertainty has led to numerous issues, including feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout, and stress. These feelings are affecting everyone in our schools and communities. So how can we keep ourselves hopeful and thoughtful as adults in a situation that induces such strong negative feelings?­­

By no means do I have an answer. However, being on campus provides me the gift of connecting with young people, and this week’s brightness of in-person learning was incredible and insightful. While speaking with two students at recess today, we discussed superheroes (Spiderman, in particular), and when I conveyed my love of superheroes and that we have so many here, they both smiled.

“Why do you think we have superheroes at Baldwin?”

Great question - our students do have inquiring minds-and it forced me to think quickly. I replied that superheroes are creations of our imagination -they embody the idea that we are already extraordinary and possess the ability to do good in our everyday lives -and I see incredible feats here. We are principled, we are caring. And, as I reflected like superheroes, we all:

    • Have been given great gifts: At Baldwin, we have people who love us, the opportunity to attend an incredibly great school, access to the world, sharp minds, and healthy bodies. Indeed, like heroes, we have a disproportionate amount of these gifts as a community and we know that “with great power, comes great responsibility”.
    • Have some incredible sidekicks and mentors in our lives- our peers, our families, and the adults at Baldwin: We sometimes succumb to the voices inside ourselves that tell us that our lives are hopelessly beyond our control and yet, we have people in our lives who can help us.
    • Are knowledgeable enough to identify right from wrong and seek good examples and role models: We know, in an age when it seems tempting to surrender or hide, neglect our responsibilities to each other, we must not allow others to take full responsibility for our actions.
    • Take risks to better ourselves and own our mistakes: People here know that how one handles life's trials or failures—as well as how you treat other people and share your successes --is an important part of the hero's journey.
    • Strive together to become better and happier versions of ourselves, in our own lives and as a part of our community: We do not try to control people, even for their own good; we create the space and place for others to grow and do good deeds as well (lest we become the villains!).
    • Act as role models for a society that must lead with dignity: All people deserve dignity and the right to earn respect. We see the worth of every person in our community.

From the organization of our clinic on Monday to the considerable planning of classes online and on campus, to the responses to the needs of families and students working through COVID and contact tracing, our community has been super in its intent and execution of our return to campus. If interested, our bi-weekly COVID monitoring information for 2022 is here, and we will continue to communicate as needed any changes in protocols, updates, etc. to keep us safe and engaged on campus.

Perhaps a question for your family: what qualities do you think heroes have and how do we continue to act on them as we move forward? I welcome your ideas and look forward to our continued growth.

Greg

Dear Baldwin,

There is no doubt that the quiet on our campus now is my least favorite sound. (I am actually able to hear the macaws and the planes pass). It masks the reality that we indeed have returned to learning after a deserved break, and while not with each other in-person yet, the quiet here masks the reality of the immense activity through our community online: from discussions of the social injustice or the creation of the atom, continued college prep, the interactive play with teachers, reflections on last semester designs, the laughter, the use of SeeSaw and singing, and the picking up of relationships among students and between teachers. I look forward to all that activity to be heard next week on campus.

Please take a moment to read the following information for next week’s return to campus, (following similar instructions from (last week’s Learning Ahead). As families and employees at Baldwin, we are juggling our children’s safety, their lives online and in-person, our own jobs, and the many commitments to others. While perhaps cliché, our success relies heavily on all community members doing their part and being prepared for our children.

Our Monday PCR Clinic 

As a reminder, we are requiring all students to provide a negative PCR result. If families are interested in using our free PCR testing clinic with CorePlus Lab, please note we are asking families to stagger their arrival (based on their last name) to limit the wait time throughout the day. 

CorePlus Clinic for families broken down by household name:

  • 9:30 - 11:00: A - H
  • 11:00 - 1:00pm: I - P
  • 1:00pm - 3:00pm: Q - Z

Download the Core Plus App and complete the registration prior to the clinic. Have your ID and medical insurance cards on hand to register as you will need to scan them in the app. This past week, the app has been having technical issues that are being addressed by the lab. While we anticipate this problem to be resolved over the weekend, the lab has contingency plans in place and we will still be able to test students. To address any possible technical issues on site, if you’d prefer, feel free to print the lab’s paper forms and bring them with you along with a COPY of your child/ren’s insurance and your personal ID. If you have multiple children, have separate copies for each. Please note that NO MEDICAL ORDER IS NEEDED for this clinic or uploaded to the app. 

Prior to arriving on Monday, you must open the app and click on Covid Test in the Home Screen. You will answer all questions listed in sections 1 - 3. The final section asks for a medical order, which is not needed for this clinic. You will proceed to hit Save and wait to scan the test kit’s QR code when your child is administered the test. 

If your PCR test is performed through school with our partner laboratory, CorePlus, we will have access to the results. If the testing is done elsewhere, the student must bring the negative result (taken within the last 48 hours) to the School Nurses’ Office (or email to healthybaldwin@baldwin-school.org ) by January the 19th.

*A child who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days does not need to get tested prior to returning to school. If that is the case for your child/ren, please send an email healthybaldwin@baldwin-school.org and include the positive test result to validate the timeframe.

Our Return to Campus

As communicated last week, we will hold classes on campus starting next Wednesday, January 19th with our usual ingress and egress procedures, including SafeTrac checks, handwashing, and mask wearing.

As per the Executive Order in place, all students, ages five (5) and older, must be fully vaccinated in order to attend in-person classes. Those eligible to receive their booster must also have received that dose. If a student is not yet eligible, he or she will have 30 days from when they become eligible to receive the booster.  Vaccination cards must be uploaded for every eligible student who wishes to attend school in person. Please enter your Veracross Parent Account to access your Magnus Health Portal. If a child has a medical or religious exemption, required original documents must be on file in the Nurses’ Office before the student attends in-person classes. The deadline to submit all documentation is January 31, 2022. 

Protocols and Preparedness

As we did at the start of the school year with the surge at that time, our successful protocols for the fall semester remain in place; should these change, we will communicate as such. Our classrooms and other learning spaces are set-up with the same measures we had this Fall, we will continue to use our contact tracing SafeTrac system and wristbands with all students and employees while on campus, and we will follow PR health requirements of masks and distancing. We will utilize our incredible campus for outside interactions throughout the day and be vigilant about how we treat each other both physically and emotionally. 

Our next few weeks as a school community will be intense as we move through this particular stage of COVID 19, engaging with each other with the respect and dignity we all know, and with all that we will accomplish, learn and enjoy. May the coming months of 2022 bring good health, stability, and happiness for our students and our community. We stand committed to supporting you, as Baldwin families, as we all are creating a brighter, safer, and healthier future for our young ones.

We look forward to seeing you on campus soon.

Greg MacGilpin, Jr.,

Head of School

Dear Baldwin Families,

 

I would like to wish you a prosperous new year and an early welcome back from our holiday break. Para los que observan, ¡Feliz Día de Reyes! Please take a moment to read about our update to begin the second semester.

 

We will return to the second semester by moving our PCR testing date and return to campus one week, and initially start classes online . Please note the following changes to our return from break:

  • January 12-14: First Days of Classes for second semester (online); principals will send out schedules for classes and other important instruction within the next few days.
  • Monday, January 17: PCR Testing for all students and employees available on campus (No classes); if planning on using our testing, please register with the lab’s app (WeCare Core Plus). Please refer to our email from Dec. 17 titled “Learning aHead - December 17, 2021” for registration details and instructions.
  • Tuesday, January 18: Online classes
  • Wednesday, January 19: Classes return on campus

I would like to thank our dedicated faculty for their determination to make the upcoming week’s online learning a valuable experience for our students. Since the COVID pandemic began, our faculty and leadership team have worked on contingency plans to be able to provide remote instruction for individuals and classes if it became necessary at times. Our teachers have embraced these additional demands to ensure that they are ready and able to deliver quality remote instruction, which is more challenging and burdensome than when we are on campus. Their efforts are on full display as we transition back to campus, and I know you will join me in appreciation for what they are doing.

 

Throughout the first semester, the policy of Baldwin is that we are committed to keeping our kids learning via in-person instruction. This commitment is still true as we do not make the decision to go online this next week lightly or without full consideration of the strain that this places on children, parents, and our teachers. Being on campus is and remains our preferred way of engaging with our students and creating environments for them to learn, and we have every intention to return to an in-person model and to continue with in-person learning the rest of the semester. Next week’s online learning pause is based on an effort to allow COVID positivity rates in our population to go down so that we can return on January 19 in person. This would reduce the possibility for community transmission due to the recent outbreak of positive cases in our area and give our families more time to secure the necessary testing and prepare for the requirements we have for Baldwin. When back on campus, we will continue the effective mitigation protocols on campus to keep our students, teachers, and staff safe.

 

I would like to share some data that helped make our decision regarding this next week’s program:

In the past two weeks, we have had 24 Total Covid Positive Students, Teachers, and Staff.

  • Currently, we have 5 COVID Positive community members.
  • A large percentage of the Baldwin population traveled over Holiday Break and are in the CDC-recommended quarantine period.
  • Baldwin will hold a PCR screening clinic on Monday January 17, for employees and students for the return to school on January 19. Ensure to download the WeCare (Core Plus) app and register your children in order to expedite the process on testing day.
  • We recognize the burden online teaching places on parents and the impact it has on their other commitments, especially their work responsibilities. We believe in communicating as early as possible with you about decisions being made so that you are given as much time as possible to plan. For that reason, we communicated the decision to go online the same day it was made, and in accordance with any government recommendations, and why we are reaching out to you now to let you know we are on course to open online Wednesday, Jan 12.

For those who have taken the time to reach out to provide support and to make helpful suggestions of how we can best achieve our mutual goal of providing the best experiences for our children—we appreciate it. We are confident that our community will continue to navigate these uncertain times together and still create an incredible positive experience for all Baldwin students.

 

Best Regards,

Greg MacGilpin, Jr.

Head of School

Dear Baldwin Community,

While we finish our classes here on campus and close for a few weeks, we realize many of your lives will continue to be busy through the holidays. As our Chair and I wrote yesterday, we are hopeful that we are moving out of the worst of these times, and we also continue to function in a state of cautious optimism and planning for the future. Prior to truly transitioning into vacation mode and putting Baldwin on-hold for a few weeks, please take the time to read a few notes:

Return to classes in January: For our return in January, we will follow the schedule below to ensure all students return to a safe start in 2022. All Baldwin employees and students, regardless of vaccination status, will need to submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours to return to campus.

 

 

PCR Tests available in January: We have scheduled a lab to conduct on site PCR tests on Monday, January 10, 10:00 a..m. - 3:00 p.m. While it is required for all students to return to campus on Wednesday, Jan 12 with a negative PCR test, families do not have to use our testing site. If you plan to attend our clinic, employees and families must download and register with the lab’s app (WeCare Core Plus). In order to expedite the process, please click on this link and go through a summary of the directions (full step-by-step guide here).

Ending 2021 with 2022 in mind: Baldwin is ready for the return to classes and in-person instruction. In the event of any major changes as we approach the start of classes, we will communicate all updates through this channel. In the meantime, put your backpack and materials away, clean out your lunch boxes and water bottles, and please keep your SafeTrac bracelet in a safe location. We will continue to require all students to continue to use the SafeTrac system (bracelets and app) next semester. To avoid having them unprogram, try to keep them active (charged and synced) at least once a week.

What are you and your child(ren) reading?: I have two books on my list over break -The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (I love natural history) and SuperSight by David Rose (wondering how augmented reality will shape our future). Have you thought about what you are reading along with what your children are reading? Help carve out time for joyful reading during this break!

 

And, on behalf of all of my colleagues at Baldwin, we hope all have the time to safely celebrate and rest this holiday season.

Best regard,

Greg L. MacGilpin, Jr.
Head of School

Dear Baldwin Community, 

One of the keys to great schools like Baldwin succeeding with all students is prioritizing our next steps – isolating and focusing on only the most vital, game-changing actions that ensure significant improvement in teaching and learning and then sustaining a disciplined, laser-like focus for a significant amount of time.

For the past three days, we have been deeply engaged with the International Baccalaureate’s (IB) remote visit. While you have not seen any visitors on campus or in classrooms, in every corner of our school, we have had a team of IB professionals- from Colombia, Costa Rica, Canada, Uruguay, U.S. - virtually meeting with parents, faculty, leadership, Board, and students. 

As the chair of the IB team stated, the visit acts as a mirror, reflecting on what we communicate as our strengths and areas for growth, and providing the reflection we may have not noticed before. 

Time and energy are precious, limited resources and if we squander them on too many initiatives or on the wrong ones, we will not move forward…in this case, less is more.  The COVID 19 pandemic has only complicated it, however, Baldwin has kept pace, and we are now poised to propel forward. So, from the visit, where will our IB focus be? While the IB report will come back to us at the turn of the year, we know these areas of Baldwin have the strongest track record of success, are easy to understand when presented in professional development, and lend themselves to being continuously refined as they are implemented by our incredible teaching teams:

  • Consistent, schoolwide implementation of a coherent, content-rich IB curriculum: Teachers have clear, specific direction on which skills and concepts to teach – the what and when – with discretion on the how-to and some room each week for teachable moments and personal passions. Curriculum focus has been the single largest factor that has affected both student achievement and growth and we need to continue to create time to allow our teachers to plan, discuss, and revise our curriculum.
 
  • Mastery by every teacher on the components of effective, explicit instruction: Of paramount importance is ongoing checking for student understanding (minute by minute, day by day, week by week) and adjusting instruction based on assessment. This is especially important for project- and problem-based learning at Baldwin.
 
  • An intensive, curriculum-wide emphasis on language and literacy: Many schools tend to overcomplicate instruction and assessment in reading, speaking, and writing. To succeed, students simply need vastly more time to purposefully read, discuss, and write about worthy, substantive literature and nonfiction across the curriculum and all subjects. We remain committed to all being language teachers.

 

The common factor at Baldwin and other successful schools is when leadership and faculty work in a way that is highly focused and relentless and provides plenty of opportunity for review and practice. This is what we have here and, as the chair noted, “To the greatest extent possible, this collaboration occurs in a climate that emphasizes helpfulness and growth, rather than strict evaluation.”

We have plenty to glow about, and we are ready to grow even more.

Best,
Greg

 

Dear Baldwin Families,

As you plan for both of the longer breaks in the coming months, please take a moment to read the schedule below for all students regarding the week after each vacation. As we observed after the summer break and other times of long periods away from campus, the transmission of COVID increases as we travel or those travel to us. The schedule prioritized the opportunity to test students and the adults who work with them, while minimizing the amount of time we are off-campus. It also honors the time needed to both plan and implement online and in-person instruction. 

To that end, we will require all employees and all students, regardless of vaccination status, to present a negative PCR lab test prior to coming to campus on Wednesday, 12/1. 

We will be a PCR testing site for the Mondays following the breaks and provide the opportunity for all students to come to campus during a specified period and test. We began PCR testing with a small sample this week (Faculty and staff/ 4th-6th grade athletes) and will expand in the coming weeks. Of course, families can choose other options for taking the required PCR test.


AFTER THE THANKSGIVING BREAK

Mon., 11/29

Tues., 11/30

Wed., 12/1 

Thur., 12/2

Fri., 12/3

PCR testing  provided on Baldwin Campus

All classes are online 

All classes held on Baldwin campus*

AFTER THE WINTER BREAK

Mon., 1/10

Tues., 1/11

Wed., 1/12

Thur., 1/13

Fri., 1/14

PCR testing  provided on Baldwin Campus

Professional Day for Baldwin faculty


No classes

All classes held on Baldwin campus*

*In the event that the large pool testing result is not returned by Wednesday, we will hold classes online on Wednesday and return Thursday. 


Please note that the expectation is for all students to be in classes at the designated dates and that the above shifts in our calendar are necessary for all to return in person safely. The expectation is also to be in-person, and any delay due to travel restrictions will not allow Baldwin to open online classes.

covid dashboard

We are grateful for all the efforts that every part of the community is making - parents, faculty and staff, students - towards a safe on-campus experience. We have completed three weeks of no COVID cases on campus and a second week of no monitoring issues. While the positivity rate has decreased in the larger community as well (3.45%), we must still remain vigilant about limiting transmission. Of note, a majority of our faculty have now received a third booster shot (Pfizer) and we are pleased to announce that on Saturday, November 6, Baldwin will host a vaccine clinic for Baldwin students age 5-11 for their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine (in coordination with HIMA San Pablo). Registration for the vaccine will be sent at the end of next week.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to continuing incredible experiences here on campus.

Best,

Greg MacGilpin, Jr.
Head of School





swiss cheese chart

Dear all,

The above image was originally conceived by James T. Reason and reimagined in late December 2020 by Virologist Ian MacKay, who titled it “The Swiss Cheese Respiratory Pandemic Defense”. We have found it extremely useful in thinking about how school(s) and those adults in them must approach living daily with COVID. The vaccination (or the masks...or the social distance) are not perfect in and of themselves; it is this idea that both personal and shared efforts together will limit transmission. For us at Baldwin, it can feel like we are the only ones doing our part- and maybe in certain moments it is- and yet we still need to take leaps, model our rules, and know that sometimes leading in this way has a powerful effect we cannot, or have not yet, see on others.

As we move from September to October, we know that there will be some resistance to being consistent; it is inevitable that wearing masks or being quarantined because of someone else’s behavior will wear on us. We are reviewing what works (being outside for lunches/recess, washing hands, monitoring SafeTrac) and also what could be added or removed safely (i.e., PCR Testing, increasing limits on visitors). Right now, for us to remain in person, our goal is to make sure we can act swiftly when one of our community members contracts COVID by logging it, quarantining as soon as possible, and continuing our classes.

This past week, there were no COVID positive cases among our students or employees; for our first five weeks of school, our COVID statistics for cases and transmission are below. As a school with over 820 students, over 150 employees, and thousands of daily interactions with each other, we know that a combination of individual and shared responsibilities we ask of you all work.

Of note, we will be introducing the option of free COVID PCR Testing on campus next month as another ‘slice of the cheese’. This opportunity is in partnership with Operation Expanded Testing, a program supported and funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide COVID-19 PCR testing to K-12 schools. As the first school in Puerto Rico to initiate such a program, we will help keep students and faculty safe in the classroom and prevent the spread of COVID-19 via frequent on-campus testing. Further introductions and information are forthcoming as well as how families can register.

Lastly, it is not lost on myself and my colleagues that today M/US students have dressed in green on September 24th, the official date established by "Fridays For Future" for global manifestations around the world and to bring awareness to climate change. Like mitigating virus transmission, perhaps solving our climate dilemma will take both collective and individual efforts. It is clear from speaking with our students they believe this combination to be true.

I look forward to working on these many fronts together!

Greg MacGilpin, Jr.
Head of School

Dear all,

One of the incredible parts of leading a school, at Baldwin in particular, is the access to student celebrations and performances.

However, we can get caught up in the perfection of it all; it is often the struggle and slip-ups that lead to powerful growth. This week, our Elementary School held Student Council elections, including speeches in front of the entire 4th and 5th grade. Speaking in front of 100 students and teachers in the VPAC is daunting, even for the most skilled of us. One of our candidates became flustered and could not speak in the moment - even with exceptional preparation - and froze. A few of our teachers took our student aside to coach, the audience of peers gave words of encouragement, and when the student returned, a strong speech was presented and the room roared with encouragement.

Such moments reinforce that in order to grow, in order to learn, we have to create authentically safe moments and model how to act when it is messy. As individuals, and as a School, we are going to falter in this work of growing young people. Our teachers are consistently trying new ideas and modeling vulnerability, and our students take leaps and challenge themselves in front of peers. And as a whole school, we regularly re-imagine what will work for our students and their learning. Our collective future, our students’ future, will require us to be able to make mistakes, seek the help they need, shift if necessary, and recover quickly.

Each one of the candidates was inspiring to watch, and the rallying around someone who needed support was what we expect here. Please take a moment to read excerpts from their own words (you can watch clips on our Baldwin Facebook page). If these students, indeed all of our Baldwin students, are our future, we are in good hands.

  • “I also learn from my mistakes and assume responsibility.” -Lucas Z.
  • “I will always put compassion into every situation...you have a friend and confidant willing to help you enjoy your school.” -Ricardo V.
  • “My focus is to leave a difference and hold more student-led activities. Students as the leaders.” -Bianca S.
  • “Being dedicated and responsible, and with clear handwriting and note skills, will help me communicate with the student council and the student body.” -Ana Lucia R.
  • “I choose the theme “Among Us” because I feel that we, as a student body, can relate to it. I want to lead our crewmates and student body against the impostors and the challenges to come together!” -Leonardo M.
  • “As a class, we are growing together and we are facing new challenges that together we can overcome” -Pedro Kury
  • “I want to reinforce COVID safety measures so we can continue coming to school and have fun and learn together in our classrooms” -Ian Foy
  • “I respect others’ ideas, am balanced and creative… and these are needed to be a part of a team”. -Adriana D.
  • “I want to keep informed of what’s happening not only in our school but everywhere that has an impact on students in Puerto Rico.” -Victoria D.
  • “To unite people so that nobody is left out, even during COVID, We will notice people that feel left out and ask them to join us.” -Emma B
  • “I will be able to help you no matter if I am elected or not. For me, the pleasure of being able to have participated in this journey was already amazing.” -Miranda B.
  • “I enjoy Minecraft...and it teaches me that for every system, you need a strong foundation and that is only possible with hard work and commitment.” - Mauricio A.
 
Of note, we will be continuing our process of IB re-authorization by creating four in-depth videos of our programs. Next week, we will have videographers on campus filming our teams, some student interactions, and campus life. We have already reached out for consent with specific students and we follow our no recording guidelines.

I look forward to many more inspiring moments here and our continued growth together.

Regards,
Greg MacGilpin, Jr.

Dear Baldwin Families:

We have begun to correspond with the COVID-19 Surveillance Unit for Schools, a division within the PR Department of Health, to coordinate randomized COVID-19 testing at Baldwin School, part of their collective efforts to keep the school safe.

The objective is to visit our School periodically and carry out randomized testing for at least 15% of our total population. In order to carry out this endeavor, parents/legal guardians must fill out and return the consent form for their child(ren) authorizing them to participate if selected. The School needs to receive a form for each household student, regardless of consent status.  Families are to send the signed and printed consent form with each child to give to their homeroom teacher by Friday, September 3. The consent forms will be filed in our Infirmary Office. We are expecting the Department of Health to visit Baldwin within the next two weeks. Please do not email the form to the school; it must be printed and signed.

In addition, Baldwin School is working to acquire antigen rapid tests in order to carry out these testing clinics in-house with more frequency and in-tandem with the PR Health Department. 

If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us at healthybaldwin@baldwin-school.org

Thank you for your cooperation.

Baldwin School

Dear Baldwin Families,


One of my favorite early activities these past two weeks has been being outside during recess and lunch. I am grateful to see our students interact, get to meet them, and particularly enjoy fortunate weather together. It also provides for the excellent opportunity to observe how our students interact with each other, and behave with our protocols. They engage with each other and their teachers informally, and it is where a lot of trust in each other occurs as we are more social in those moments. One of the big questions I have from students (older ones right now) is what happens if they are near someone who has COVID or gets sick…do they have to quarantine? I walk them through how we make decisions, show them where to look on the website, and speak clearly about their responsibilities.


I ask you to take a moment to look at our Baldwin flowchart for students who may be not feeling well, test positive or may have been exposed. It is meant to help families see our decision-making process for both their health and how we will operate at School. All families should think through what their household plan will be if their child(ren) will need to be home for a shortened period of quarantine. 


And, based on those conversations with students (and my colleagues at and after lunch), I ask every family to reflect on the following observations as we finish our first two weeks of in-person schooling and live together as a community.

First, please keep your children social, but set rules around their social media interactions and their weekend in-person functions. Social interaction is an important part of your child's well-being, and being back at Baldwin has opened up the door again to work on social relationships in-person. For some of our students that is very welcome, for others it may be overwhelming after a few weeks. It happens on the weekend as well. Please be clear that where and how they spend their time at birthday parties, social events, trips to the beach, etc. matter. Speak about your expectations and strongly consider what Baldwin does in terms of being safe, such as social distancing, masking, washing hands, limiting group sizes, as a measure of weekend activity. And just like in-person, remind your child to be polite, respectful, and appropriate in their communications and to represent your family’s values when interacting with others online. Most powerfully, how we model our interactions as adults hold massive influence on our children- whether in the car, online, or at social gatherings.

Second, remain mindful of your child’s stress or worry. One thing is for certain: Baldwin is implementing our protocols for in-school learning in response to unique circumstances, including having to quarantine classrooms or grades in order to keep our campus, to be in-school, open. This will continue to be a time of uncertainty for everyone and it is imperative for you to help your children manage the worry, anxiety, and range of emotions they may experience. Difficult though it may be, be clear and thoughtful about how you speak of these worries with them. They will be out of sorts, whether they admit it or not, and need as much normal routine as parents can provide. 

Third, please take an active role in helping your child process and own their learning. Though try not to ask “how was their day?” As we started back to full school days at Baldwin, your child has engaged with other students or adults dozens, if not hundreds, of times. These social interactions are opportunities for processing, extending, and consolidating learning. Asking your child questions about their day is a great way to stay involved, it can be even more beneficial for your child's studies and self-awareness. In these first few weeks of school, establishing the expectation you want to know is important for building for conversations later. However, if it is the same question each day, you may not be able to gain any insight (and they may just say ‘good’.  Ask specific questions, such as, “What is one interesting thing you learned today in (choose subject)?” or “Tell me about lunch today” and allow for them to share on their terms. As educators, studies show that students learn more when they talk about or explain what they are learning. Letting them explain their viewpoint to you is an opportunity for your child to build confidence in their way of knowing and processing the world around them.


We have had an incredible first two weeks on campus, and so many adults, both here on campus and in our families, are all contributing to that success. I think of one of our core beliefs at Baldwin, “Learning is profoundly influenced by social relationships and affected by emotions”, and am grateful we get to practice that with intention here every day. 


Hope you are able to enjoy some safe recess time with your family this weekend.


Greg MacGilpin, Jr.

Head of School 

Dear Baldwin Families,

If we see our School as ultimately a place to optimize learning, there is a simple formula to we must adhere to:
 
In order to learn, a child must be engaged.
And in order to be engaged,a child must be -and feel- safe.
 

Over the past two weeks our teams have spent time on those two fronts: getting ready for a safe return to campus-both physically and emotionally-and getting ready to engage with your children in making meaning of the world around them. We are thrilled to do so and we recognize that there are significant emotions that come with such a transition. Our efforts have been towards creating a culture of continuity, balancing as adults to both accept our students where they are at right now as they return from summer and our ambitious learning targets for each and every student.

As a result of a year-long effort updating infrastructure and protective equipment, investing in both software and hardware, and complete summer upgrades, Baldwin is in an excellent position to continue our mission in person. Our updated 2021-22 COVID protocol page is in a simple drop-down menu format describing all efforts related to creating a physically safe campus and first weeks of classes. Should you not find an answer to your question along these lines, please do reach out to any member of our leadership team. Of particular note, the following points are important for our first days of school:

  • On Campus Learning: It is our goal at Baldwin to provide as powerful an on-campus experience as possible for all our students, and accordingly, we have adjusted health and safety protocols so our youngest ones who are not vaccinated can learn safely and productively. Any accommodation requests due to high-risk COVID -19 related health conditions must be submitted in writing to the appropriate division office and nurses office, including medical documentation. Requests will be evaluated by the respective division office and our Nurses’ Office. Should either government or administration deem it unsafe to be in-person, we will move to Baldwin’s online platforms.
  • Masks, wristband, health check: Our most significant mitigation effort in creating a safe environment for all students is the combination of mask wearing, daily health screenings, and SafeTrac wristbands. We require every student (and faculty/staff) at Baldwin to have each of these ready before entering campus. In addition, we will conduct regular health checks, consistent complete hand sanitizing and washing, and reinforced established physically distanced interactions.
  • Vaccinations and screening: As communicated earlier, all parents of grades 7th through 12th students must either a) upload their vaccination card to Magnus, or b) communicate with our nurse team their vaccination status, or c) complete an opt-out form prior to the start of school. Note that all unvaccinated students must present a negative PCR test each Monday in order to come to campus. No student will be allowed to begin classes until this is completed for them. All of our faculty/staff follow the same protocol.
  • Visitors to Campus: You will read that we are only allowing students and faculty/staff on campus during the school day and during after school activities (Pick-up and drop-off will be curbside only for parents in all three divisions). We know that parents in-person connections are valuable and hope to integrate this later in the semester. We will continue to conduct online meetings and parent-teacher interactions (i.e. conferences). Vendors and third-party services will be strictly limited to essential activity, must be vaccinated, and allowed on campus by appointment only.
While I believe we still have a long journey ahead, those who we consult within the medical field suggest we are settling into the steady stride of mitigation that will now become an integral part of how we do things going forward. As we aim to preserve the importance of face-to-face education as critical to the development of young people, we will spend time engaging in work on wellness and caretaking that will sit at the center of our continued recovery and living.

Finally, I was fortunate to meet a few Baldwin students in person as several 11th and 12th graders helped host new families in our VPAC. What a pleasure to speak with them and informative to listen to what they are expecting as they return to campus. Such interactions reinforce that our mission and values serve to keep us on the same page and bring clarity to uncertainty. And that Baldwin is ready to keep our students as the heart of the school and provide for a safe and productive start to the school year.

We are grateful for what we all have, for what lies ahead, and the opportunity to see you next week.

Greg MacGilpin, Jr.
Head of School
Dear Baldwin Families,

As previously communicated, the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be a strong ally in protecting the general population, including students, teachers, and other school employees, from being infected with this dangerous virus. In Puerto Rico, the PR Department of Health’s Administrative Order addressed towards the education sector (No. 509 of July 22, 2021) establishes the requirement to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition to attend school for students, teachers, and other school personnel, with the exception of those with medical or religious exemptions.

Following the Department of Health’s Guide for the Prevention of COVID-19 in Schools K-12 (pub. July 22, 2021), it is our requirement that by August 11, Baldwin families who have had their child partially or fully vaccinated, will have communicated it to the School by uploading their child’s vaccination card to the Magnus Portal, or otherwise submitted the Vaccination Opt-Out Form and other required documents to our Infirmary office. To make sure we know our families’ status and begin the school year safely, please ensure you have performed the tasks below:

  1. Log in to the Magnus Portal to upload your child’s vaccination card. Feel free to contact our school nurse, Betzaida Rivera, for help with this task.
  2. If your child in 7th - 12th grade has not received a vaccination or will not be able to be fully vaccinated by August 11th, please complete this form by Friday, August 6.
We are looking forward to returning to a full and vibrant campus on Monday, August 16. We will send additional information on safety measures, ingress and egress procedures, and other protocols at the beginning of August, including SafeTrac reminders and registration instructions, and mask requirements. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. 

Sincerely,

Mr. Gregory MacGilpin, Jr.
Head of School