I attended another AAIE webinar with Dr. Robert Evans and Dr. Michael Thompson. Dr. Evans recently worked with private school leaders in Boston, Massachusetts. It is dawning on them, as with us here at TIS, this pandemic will be with us longer than what we previously anticipated. We were thinking of just getting to the end of this school year, but it looks like we will be dealing with this all of next school year. Dr. Thompson reminded us that we have different constituencies that we are dealing with and all of them have fears and anxieties. There are boards, support staff whose jobs might be in trouble, teachers over age 55 who are at risk if they catch the coronavirus and some parents.
Some of the concerns discussed were as follows:
- The possibility of running concurrent programs, on campus and online
- Dealing with a wide range of attitudes towards coming back to campus, some are eager and tired of being stuck in their apartment, others are fearful to leave their house. This is compounded by international schools having faculty living a long way from their homes and extended family. Schools are hearing from older teachers moving to retirement instead of risking their health working with so many different people.
- Some leaders are getting pressure to make decisions sooner rather than later because many people do not like living with uncertainty. Dr. Thompson recommends the wisdom of Anthony Fauci, “the virus sets the timetable”.
- One school in South East Asia follows the regulations from the government and goes one step beyond and have stronger measures. The school leader suggests having an outside body (third party) validate the measures the school is taking to reassure parents. In that particular school, 82% of parents sent their children the first week and now it is up to 95%.
- Dr. Thompson sees some “staff denial” and they don’t think they appreciate that they should be “fighting” for their jobs by providing the best possible online education.
- Dr. Evans feels that most parents want to send their children to school and are desperate to get them out of the house. He does not like too many surveys because parents are not professional educators. Schools should take the lead, tell parents what they are going to do and they can then make a choice.
- An elementary school in Switzerland that started today, 80% of the parents sent their children and they are expecting more. They focused more on isolating groups of 10-12 and avoiding crossing groups to limit the contact. Therefore, if someone tests positive, then easy to quarantine that small group.This is referred to as an enclave.
- Copenhagen International School is up to 90% attendance in their elementary. They were anticipating 50% return rate, but started 80%. Grades 6-10 are coming back on Monday with 750 students back on campus. Cafeteria is offering online orders in advance and sending them to students to avoid congregating. CIS has 3 teachers not coming in with clear guidelines from the Danish government and those teachers have certification from a doctor. They are providing support for students that are online.