During the Annual General Meeting, Thiaba Camara Sy, ISD Board Chairperson, and Alan Knobloch, ISD Director took questions from the participants. Below is a selection of the questions along with the answers.
Question: Will Thiaba be chairperson next year?
Thiaba: It will be up to my colleagues if they re-elect me to this position.
Question: Are you planning on having an extra-ordinary summer camp session in July?
Thiaba: Yes, but the question is when will school open again. If school were to open in August, it would be hard to have activities in July due to maintenance work.
Alan: There are two government regulations that are affecting us right now. One, schools are not allowed to re-open, and, two, there is a restriction on public and private gatherings. When those restrictions are eased, we can look at what the possibilities are for programming we can offer.
The number one thing we have to look while schools are opening, it is not an automatic that of going right back to the way it was, really having conversations about school in a social distancing environment. This will be an issue the Board will continue to discuss. We are forming an expert panel to advise us.
The enrollment for next year is a hard one. We know that 60% of our students are still in-country. In a recent parent enrollment survey, results were incredibly strong with the vast majority of people sharing their intent to come back to school. Believe it or not, despite all this, the number of applications for next year is the second-highest we have ever recorded.
At this point, the Board has not terminated any teacher contracts, the Board is continuing to look at their options and will be making some decisions as we move forward in regards to the amount of staff we need for the enrollment. We remain very optimistic based on the strong responses we have gotten from our families.
Question: Are the options discussed (on-campus and online learning) options or are there definite plans.
Alan: The short answer is there are no definite plans right now. We have a number of committees looking at next year and the combination of what we have to do to social distance on campus and how can we keep a program for online learning for a variety of scenarios, families may want their child to continue with the school but do not want them to continue on campus for various health reasons.
One of the things the Board has been considering is what amount of staffing we would need to run two programs at the same time.
At this point, these are all the scenarios we are starting to plan for and as the circumstances start to dictate, we will be in very close communication with the families to let them know what is possible and what is not possible.
Question: Have predictions changed given the President’s announcement this past Tuesday in terms of opening mosques and schools.
Thiaba: Not really. As you know school ends on June 10. Schools will reopen on June 2nd for the testing grades, but we did not consider making changes in our programs. For the rest, it will mostly be about health and safety issues.
Alan: While the President stated the examination grades could open, he specifically stated that the remainder of the grades would remain online. It is too early to tell when Senegal will start to see some form of re-opening as we are seeing in other areas.
Question: Would we consider two shifts, one group on campus in the morning, another group in the afternoon, or half one day, the other half the next day?
Alan: We have not ruled anything out. One of the advantages of other school’s going first is being able to look at what they are doing and how it is working out for them. We have started planning for that and if the need is to continue to socially distance, reduce the density of the students, there are a lot of different ways we can do that. Educating in shifts is one way if we had enough staff, and depending upon how many students we have, we could have everyone on campus for basically the main part of the day. There are some things you can do with staggering starts and staggering dismissal times, staggering how students do different activities. It is definitely on the table at this point. It is part of what do we need to do to keep our students, staff, and parents as safe as possible.
Question: Will the school fees be impacted by online or partial schooling or will they remain fixed as current?
Thiaba: We are still working on it, looking at the scenarios, we do not have a solid answer at this time.
Question: How can programs be completed if shifts are implemented and would that mean reduced holidays?
Alan: We are starting to redefine what schooling means. Schooling as the amount of time you sitting in a classroom may not be the only way we count schooling. There could be an idea that we have to be flexible in our schedule for next year. I have communicated that to our teachers that our schedule may change, our school day may change. If we are doing some form of shift, only have some of the students on campus at one time, it would be a hybrid program, for part of their time they would be on campus, and part of the time they would be online. For each of those, it would count as school time. If we have a mixture of onsite and online learning, we can tailor the instruction based on where the student is.
Question: Did the seniors all end up getting the IB Diploma?
Alan: The results for the IB Diploma will come out in early July. They have canceled the in-person exams. The International Baccalaureate Organization is looking at the student’s internal work as well as the predicted grades, what the teachers had predicted they would have gotten. The students will find out their results on July 6.
Question: How is the new building going? Did the construction stop?
Answer: The work from our contractor in Senegal is basically done. The remaining work on the Performing Arts Center is the seats, the lights, and the acoustics. Given the complex nature of this, we contracted with outside companies coming from South Africa specializing in this type of installation. They were scheduled to fly in after spring break. With the closure of the airport, they could not come in. All the materials are all in Dakar and ready. As soon as the airport opens and it is safe for them to come, the team will come in and do the installation work.
As for the athletic complex, the material for the gym roof still needs to be shipped in. That material has to come from Europe. As you know, work stopped in Europe for a period of time. We are processing the order and will have it shipped in as soon as possible. It will be installed by the team from CDE. Once that is enclosed, they can finish the work in the gym.
The two things that we are waiting for, that were impacted by the Coronavirus, are the ability of teams to fly in and do the installation, number one, and number two, waiting for the roofing material to be delivered from Europe.