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Director's Dispatch: Returning to Campus

We welcomed about 500 students on campus today. In visiting the classrooms, I am impressed with how engaged the students are in learning. We have a high number of absent students mostly related to Covid, but also many families have not returned to Dakar yet.

We have 11 substitutes on campus and 9 positions are being filled by teaching assistants, other teachers, and administrators. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and willing to fill in where needed. The secondary teachers will be teaching via Zoom for the students who are not coming to campus and the elementary school has designated an online support teacher to help those who are not in attendance. If you or your children have any questions or concerns about the online support, please contact the classroom teacher directly as well as the principals, Kelly Chumrau, Elementary, ( and Lorne Bird, Secondary (

I would like to thank Marylène Michelet, our Human Resources Manager, and Hélène Dioh, our HR Assistant, for their outstanding work in organizing coverage for all the staff who are not able to come to campus.

Given the current circumstances, we have adjusted a number of our health and safety guidelines. Below is a summary of the major changes and reminders.

Health & Safety Reminders and Changes

  • Now that school has restarted, if a student has attended school and later tests positive, the student’s cohort will have to quarantine for five days. The teacher(s) will move to online learning during this time.

  • Previously, individuals who tested positive needed a certificate from a doctor stating they could return to campus. Given the high volume of cases and some reports of getting appointments for this purpose, we will not require a certificate from a doctor to return to campus. Instead, we would ask all students who tested positive to stop by the medical clinic first thing when they return to campus for a wellness check.

  • The following guideline is a clarification of the information we sent out in the past week. If you came into close contact with someone with COVID-19 and you are in one of the following groups, you do not need to quarantine.

  • You are ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people.

  • You are ages 5-17 years and completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.

  • You had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days (you tested positive using a viral test). These guidelines are based on updated CDC guidelines.

  • Given the expected high volume of cases, if we have a positive case that requires a student cohort to quarantine, we will only notify the parents of the students in that cohort. We will no longer send an email to all parents stating we have a positive case and if you were not notified your child is not in the cohort.

Our medical team would like to remind families that if someone in the family tests positive, that person should isolate from the rest of the family for five days, if possible. Hopefully, this will protect the other family members from contracting the virus. As a reminder, if a student is quarantined due to a family member testing positive and then the student tests positive themselves, the student’s timeline to return to school will restart based on when the student tested positive or developed symptoms.

On Campus Reminders

  • Masks are required for everyone who comes to campus. Students may remove their masks only when eating and when actively participating in physical education classes.

  • After-school activities and sports will not start at least until February. We do not take this decision lightly as we know how much students enjoy these activities. However, with so many staff members being absent as well as the high rate of illness in Dakar in general, we are not able to guarantee we will have enough adults to properly staff the ASA programs. We will try to restart these programs as soon as possible.

  • Students must leave campus at the end of the day. Families are still welcome to use the campus on weekends.

I am proud of the ISD staff’s commitment to holding classes on campus. As always, our goal is to have as many students as possible on campus for as many days as possible. Thank you to all of our parents and guardians for your support of our health and safety guidelines.

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