March 30, 2021
As we head into spring, we are all looking forward to more opportunities to be out on campus and to connect through eagerly awaited programs and celebrations—both our annual events and a few new initiatives. If there are positive impacts of the COVID-19 public health crisis that we have been living with for over a year now, one of them is the opportunity to reflect on the importance of keeping our students and our communities healthy, both physically and emotionally. While this has always been a part of our curriculum and educational philosophy, our shared experiences over the past year have emphasized how very vital it is to ensure our students can look inward to their own wellbeing as well as understand their ability to impact the world around them.
Digital Kindness Week, March 29-April 1
Beginning yesterday and continuing through Thursday, many students will be engaging in Digital Kindness Week, which has been a key component of our digital awareness curriculum for several years. Each year, we dedicate time during this week for students to explore what it means to be good digital citizens. Girls in K-8th Grade will take part in developmentally appropriate, grade-level discussions on the impact of social media on young women's lives and the issues of privacy, online safety, inclusiveness and cyberbullying. I encourage you to ask your child what she has been learning about this week as she is encouraged to reflect on her own digital habits and how she can contribute to a more positive online world.
National Public Health Week, April 5-11
Next week, from April 5-11 we are launching a school-wide initiative to celebrate National Public Health Week. (Learn more at http://www.nphw.org/.) This year, we've all come to recognize the importance of public health and the critical need to keep ourselves and our communities healthy. Next week's public health activities will take place in all divisions, for all students, from the Preschool to the residence halls. In keeping with one of the NPHW themes, mental and emotional health, so critical during these COVID-times, will be a special focus. Personal and community wellbeing and opportunities for making a positive impact on our world also will be features.
The magnified national and global focus on public health aligns with programs that we have been offering here at GFS for over 15 years as signature features of our educational model. Our purposeful efforts to engage our girls and young women with STEM disciplines, including the diverse field of public health, have ensured access to instruction, resources and spaces that can help them fully explore their interests. From our youngest students learning about the environment and the benefits of exercise through campus exploration; to our Middle School RISE immersion/research program at Irvine Nature Center; to our public health electives in the Upper School; to WISE students' hands-on research on vaccine efficacy, global health, and so much more at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, our goal is to make STEM accessible, relevant, and compelling.
Finally, we'll be sharing with parents, through the weekly Parent Notes, resources you can use to support your own wellbeing during these days of ongoing, stressful challenges. It's been your partnership with us in upholding strong COVID-19 safety protocols that has enabled GFS to successfully return to a five-day-a-week in-person model for close to the entirety of this academic year, and we thank you for your commitment to the public health of our school community.
As we continue working together as a school and a community through COVID-19, there has never been a more important time to ensure our students‒of all ages‒have the support and resources they need to ensure their physical and emotional wellbeing. The schoolwide efforts and cross-curricular programming you will see in the coming weeks are just a few examples of how we are setting your daughters up to face challenges and work through difficult experiences successfully. I hope you will engage them in conversation about what they are learning and talk as a family about these important topics.