by Craig Coutts, Head of School
Welcome back to all our returning families and a warm welcome too to those who have just joined our community. After the past two and a half years of uncertainty around whether we could open the campus, welcome people, or run activities and program, it is wonderful to start the new year with a greater sense of confidence that we can once again be YIS as YIS is meant to be. Our school has always been known for its community and the feeling of belonging, and maintaining this cohesion has been challenging during the pandemic.
We are of course still living with COVID and must continue to be vigilant in safeguarding the health of our students, staff and their families, including those with underlying conditions who may be more vulnerable. However, with the high vaccination rates in Japan and advances in medical treatment, the risk profile of transmission of the virus on campus is considerably lower than it was earlier in the pandemic. Moreover, we have learned much from the experience of the past two years and are now better able to manage things in a way that will allow us to operate the school with as few disruptions as possible. As long as everyone continues to support each other by following the protocols in place - in particular staying home if sick and consulting with the YIS Health Office in case of infection or close contact - I believe we can see our school operate at full strength once again.
This is a year of optimism and opportunity, and already during our teacher preparation week last week and our new family orientation last Thursday, that feeling could be felt around the campus. We have a large cohort of new families and new staff members with us, and as always our returning community members have joined together to make them all feel welcome. Thanks to the PTSA and many parent volunteers, the mentor program has brought people together to help our new families settle in. I hope you all take advantage of the coffee mornings and other social gatherings that are planned over the coming weeks to allow people to get to know each other as well as the school.
Much of the strong feeling of optimism that I mentioned has to do with the fact we can plan for the full spectrum of opportunities for our learning program and we can give our students those chances to explore and expand once again. We are very much looking forward to student activities starting in the opening weeks, first in Secondary School, and in Elementary School from mid-September, as well as the start-up of our Service program providing students with the chance to once again engage with our wider community. Our Student Council has already been planning events for students to socialize and come together, and further in the school year we look forward to Expeditions taking place in the spring.
One other big difference this year has been the fact we have been able to start the year in our new campus. Although this already feels very much like our home, the access to larger and purposely designed facilities has given us the confidence to explore new opportunities for our learning program and develop further choices for our students. It was wonderful to see the new students playing in the pool as part of their orientation and I can’t wait for our volleyball teams to use the facilities for the first time as their season begins in the next few weeks. It feels good to write these things and have greater confidence that we will be able to follow through with plans!
This really is an exciting year ahead and one where we look forward to working closely with all YIS community members to reignite aspects of our learning program that have been on hold for the past few years and explore new possibilities. Thanks as always for your support and I very much look forward to seeing you on campus in the coming weeks.