Nobody was fully prepared to deal with the lockdowns international schools have been experiencing.
Some international schools experienced teaching from home, doing remote learning. And though many international schools are back to in-person learning at the moment (with or without masks), others are still in the throws of remote teaching!
It has been hard on all stakeholders, and it continues to be hard on the international school community. Most of us are subjected to the rules and regulations of our host country, which can be comforting and also stressful. And international schools must make plans to follow these (sometimes ever-changing) rules.
We all want to do our part to get this pandemic over and done with. But the reality is that it has been very stressful constantly making changes to how we teach. And even if an international school teacher is getting into the groove with their current setup, there is always a sense that a new change is coming soon.
Adding to the stress and anxiety, the truth is that some international school teachers haven’t been back to their home in over two years because they have not been allowed to leave their host country!
How then have international schools made these decisions to teach during the COVID 19 pandemic? How have they made their decisions to teach in a safe way, and how were those decisions perceived and experienced by the staff?
Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. We have a comment topic called, “How did this school handle the COVID-19 situation?” and here are 11 comments that have been submitted in this section:
“The school went above and beyond on the covid-19 situation in helping families, setting up robust online learning. Some teachers took advantage of this, so things have tightened up a bit. Online learning has greatly been minimised due to extreme government caution but everyone is still masked and subjected to frequent test requests / inspections etc. Travel is severely hampered and is totally unpredictable…” – Western Academy of Beijing (76 total comments)
“The school did a great job following the government’s guidelines…” – International School Saigon Pearl (103 total comments)
“Terribly. They furloughed most of the teacher assistants and cafeteria workers. They fired someone very last minute, claiming low enrollment when she had already signed a contract for the following year…” – Ruamrudee International School (Ratchapruek) (45 total comments)
“Not well. When 40%+ of the faculty was trapped outside china (along with much of the families) the school furloughed/fired a huge chunk of them even though all of us who weren’t furloughed/fired eventually got back in. The school then hired replacements for the classrooms. It was clear that the people that were fired were people the administrators wanted to get rid of (i.e. tougher personalities). It felt like the school used COVID, instead of normal improvement plan processes, to part ways with people. This left many individuals stuck in countries that weren’t their home with no job and no income – it was devastating to many. Most of us wish they would have kept everyone on at reduced pay for 1 year (supposedly we had the money to do so) with knowing that they would need to make reductions the following year. It would have been compassionate to give everyone time to figure out what they needed to do…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) (197 total comments)
Thailand (Chiang Mai)
“COVID has had a huge impact on the school, its managers, teachers, parents and students. Parents and teachers have been critical of some of the things the school has done but generally, everyone accepts these are intolerably difficult and unique times and that management does not have a crystal ball and is generally reacting well to the latest whims of government policy…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (55 total comments)
“In March of 2020, the school followed government guidelines and transitioned to remote learning mostly synchronously. This was initially meant to last for a few weeks, but in the end, we never returned to school. Our spring break was shortened so that we could end the year early, and this was generally appreciated. With a rigorous testing/masking/distancing regimen in place (and a general ban on parents entering the building), we were able to return to in-person classes for the entirety of the 2020/21 school year. There were always a handful of students who attended in a hybrid mode, and small categories of students were occasionally excluded and moved to virtual mode for short periods of time depending on testing results. Graduation was held in drive-in mode on campus for the classes of 2020 and 2021, which was an excellent concession. The protocols continue to be followed this year (though hybrid students are generally not accommodated for except in extraordinary circumstances) and things feel as close to “normal” as one could hope for…” – American School of Warsaw (167 total comments)
“Brilliantly. Paid for flights and quarantine costs for all employees stuck outside of China. Will do the same for the next summer break as well…” – Shekou International School (109 total comments)
“We were very lucky to have only 1 month of online/remote learning in which the Head of Tech Integration was able to set up the online program for teachers, students, and parents…” – Hope International Academy Okinawav (76 total comments)
“Really really badly although the CEO is convinced otherwise. During the last lockdown, staff was close to breaking point (and still are). Laurent and his minions decided the stick approach was best so forced staff to work from campus and remove lunches, remove the ability for staff to buy their own, and remove coffee. Then they decided that it was a good time to do appraisals, observations and hand out personal criticisms. You honestly couldn’t make this shXX up. Every single one of his remaining decent staff members is now looking elsewhere. He has fundamentally damaged the core of the school-his staff and does not appear to see this as a problem. In 18 months this school has gone from ‘has potential ‘ to ‘RUN’…” – Berda Claude International School (39 total comments)
“The school has an online learning plan when it is necessary to implement. Macau has been a very safe place to live and work during COVID but with that safety comes very limited movement. Getting into Macau is very difficult and when you are here it is basically impossible to leave. This has made life very hard for expats…” – The School of the Nations (Macao) (28 total comments)
“China, and especially Suzhou, is lucky to have been open most of the time during COVD-19! SSIS was forced to have a delayed start to the school year this year by the local government due to COVID-19 which has affected the calendar a bit by shortening staff vacations…” – Suzhou Singapore International School (147 total comments)continue reading
Let’s be honest. Not all countries are equally successful with their COVID19 vaccination roll-out.
Many of us are in countries in which there seems to be no hope to get vaccinated before the summer (or even the foreseeable future). The international school community hasn’t been able to see their families in almost two years, so they are eagerly hoping to do so this summer.
Although vaccination is not a mandatory prerequisite for travel, being vaccinated would definitely give them some peace of mind while visiting their loved ones.
Different regions of the world are having different dynamics in rolling out their vaccination programs. Europe is currently lagging behind the countries such as UK, Israel, Chile, Serbia, the USA, etc. But most developing countries are lagging behind Europe.
Because of the time crunch, a number of international school teachers are choosing to go to their home countries anyway and looking at maybe also getting vaccinated there.
As plane tickets are being bought (hopefully with a flexible rescheduling policy), we are currently seeing new waves of infections in many countries around the world (and maybe even your home country). This puts all of us in a moral doubt of whether we should take a risk and travel to see our friends and family or should be more patient and wait until more certain times.
After looking at some flights from Europe to the USA, the prices look very attractive compared to previous years. So buying one of these flights is hard to resist.
However, it is hard to know what the world will look like come June. We don’t know yet which requirements you’ll have to meet to even fly to your home country. As of today, most countries just require proof of a negative PCR test for citizens of that country (and their spouse/family).
What are your plans for this coming summer? Will you take the chance and fly home?continue reading
The vast number of international schools around the world are still closed and doing some kind of remote learning. It has truly been a challenge for these schools to adapt and adjust to this new way of teaching.
The pressure has been on the school’s administration to organize a clear plan that will follow the local government’s rules and guidelines. These administrators strive to clearly communicate to all stakeholders given the very short amount of reaction time to put the new ways of working in place.
When using ISC’s unique Comment Search feature (Premium Membership is needed), we found a number of comments that had the keyword Covid in them. Here are 10 comments that show some implications of Covid-19 on these international schools:
“School communication has always been a struggle for the school, particularly for the foreign hires who generally hear things last. During the distance learning program due to Covid-19, this had huge repercussions in the trust of the school. Ultimately however the school eventually came to good decisions that people were happy with….”
“The school is currently going through the accreditation for NEASC and IB/PYP. This process may be delayed due to Covid-19…”
“DISK is working on accreditation with WASC, They were to do the initial visit before the end of this year, then Covid-19 messed it up. We expect them in September. Due to Covid-19, we extended the closure of campus to May 11. Learning is still taking place online…”
“Because of Covid 19, our school has been doing remote teaching for many weeks now. But after only 4 weeks, the Danish government has ordered that kids aged 0-10 should go to school (MS and HS still have remote learning, probably until the end of the year). The Early Years and Primary School sections are now teaching in person again on campus, but we have so many new rules and guidelines that we must follow. We are calling it “emergency learning”. One rule is that there can only be 10 kids per classroom because we need to have kids sit two meters apart and to limit the number of adults the students interact with. That in turn requires more teachers to teach a grade level, so the drama, art, music, etc teachers are now all classroom teachers teaching. It is very full on!”
“Students in EC-Grade 5 are using Seesaw as the primary platform for learning while students in 6-12 are using Google Classroom. This has been very helpful in transitioning to online learning due to the Covid-19 situation…”
“Pretty much all PD cancelled when Covid 19 hit. Even those that could have been rescheduled…”
“Covid-19 has put teaching online. Added costs of increased electricity use and wifi upgrades (if required) must be born by teacher. One school in the vicinity has provided a bonus to its faculty for this increase in costs…”
“New principal is hardly at school and doesn’t know teachers. In every critical situation (earthquake, Covid-19 closure) director was the first one to leave the country and ‘manage from distance’…”
“As of March, 2020, KICS has switched to online learning/teaching as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a bumpy transition, especially as it happened right at the start of the spring break, which is why some teachers and families are out of Sudan…”
“Salaries for primary and secondary teachers have been cut to 80% during the Covid-19 shutdown even though teachers are expected to teach their full course load. IB PYP candidacy was abandoned…”
ISC would like to hear from you! Log on to ISC today and submit a comment about the consequences of Covid-19 on your international school. You can submit your comment in the School Information section under the comment topic “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”continue reading