Today, we celebrate having students on campus for 38 days! Please find a few updates from me below.
We will continue to implement changes on campus now that we are in Phase 2 of our reopening plans. The biggest change this week will be having our Pre-K through Grade 2 students staying a full day until 3:00 pm. Other changes include mixing cohorts which will allow us to have French and Spanish classes in person as well as grouped math classes in Grades 9 and 10. The students are also able to mix cohorts at lunch and during breaks. In addition, we will start cross-country and dance as well as offer a limited number of after-school activities for the younger students.
It will take a number of weeks to see the impact of these changes, namely will there be a transmission of the virus on campus or an increase in the number of students who have to quarantine. Therefore, we will be in Phase Two for at least one month. After which we will review the situation both in Senegal and in our community and decide if changes will be made to our learning scenarios or health and safety plan.
With some schools in Dakar opening up fully, including abandoning physical distancing guidelines in some cases, and the Senegalese schools scheduled to start on November 12, some parents have asked why ISD is not allowing all students to come on campus every day.
Firstly, we continue to follow the published guidelines of the Senegalese government which require 1 meter of physical distancing in classrooms. We could not have 1 meter of separation in many of our classrooms if all of those students came every day.
Secondly, we believe that we must make decisions based on an abundance of caution and vigilance. Just because some schools have chosen to move away from the guidelines does not mean it is safe to do so. Initial news reports from Europe and the United States are showing that schools are not super spreader events. There has been a transmission of the virus in schools, but not a significant amount, which is encouraging. But many of those countries have seen a spike in cases as the restrictions were eased in general as we are seeing here in Senegal.
Lastly, the reopening of the Senegalese schools could cause a rise in cases in the country. I do not want to relax our health and safety guidelines prematurely and risk taking backward steps in our reopening plan. This is especially important given the current state of Covid-19 outbreaks in Europe.
By the end of November, we will see the initial impact of having the Senegalese schools open and the effect of ISD moving to Phase Two which allows more student interaction.
I know many of our families want their children to come to campus every day for both educational and family reasons. I very much want this as well. As we have seen in Europe and the United States, reopening too fast will cause an increase in cases. Our goals are minimizing infections in our community and keeping the school open for classes on campus for as many days as possible. We have been able to accomplish this so far by taking a conservative approach and will continue to do so.
Ecole Actuelle Bilingue (EAB) is the bilingual school close to ISD on the Corniche. EAB
has changed the start time of their school to their original time of 8:00 am. The start time was previously changed to 9:00 am due to Covid. Therefore, we are seeing the return of the traffic jam along the Corniche. Please plan accordingly for your morning commute. Students can arrive on the ISD campus starting at 8:00 am.
ISD teachers and administrators have given their initial feedback on whether they will return for the 2021-2022 school year. We have had a limited number of resignations to date, far fewer than last year. Below is the list of vacancies. If you know of a great teacher, counselor, or administrator who would be a good fit for ISD, invite them to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name.
High School Counselor
IB Diploma Coordinator
MYP Design Tech
MYP Physical Education