We start the run towards the end of a school year that appeared normal in many, many ways yet so different in many others. While the unbroken onsite learning of students was very much welcomed and celebrated the impacts of COVID were ever prevalent with hygiene protocols, testings, and severe restrictions to experiential and service learning opportunities. The long tail of COVID still has an impact. The pandemic has repeatedly shown us that people have an inbuilt capacity to adapt. This is what is at the heart of resilience that our students, families and staff continually demonstrated. We know that most students, and indeed their families and school staff will be looking forward to a normal school year from next August.
What appeared to be normal was not always so. For example, COVID has impacted almost half the lives of our Grade 1 students. Many of our students have until recently not seen their teachers without masks. Our experiential learning programme has also been curtailed. It has only been in the last quarter that GISST sports and After School Activities have resumed. Our Community Days last week was an opportunity to reconnect and share experiences; opportunities that have been sadly limited over the last three school years. The work that Frau Steinberg, Mrs Ang, and Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr (FSJ) Paula, Selina and Magda have devoted to initiating and developing our Community Days has simply been phenomenal. Thank you. And thank you to all our staff for leading, participating and making these activities possible.
Notwithstanding the challenges of the past three school years, we look forward to the next school year with purpose and optimism. Overnight field trips are currently being planned and more information on this will be communicated at the beginning of the next school year.
Another essential element in the school community is home/school partnership. The FIS has a home school partnership that stresses that all children need a positive and supportive partnership between home and school. The home/school partnership must be seen as a real and active relationship, promoting the highest expectations between school, parents and students, and setting the standards for the future. While the pandemic has asked us to support each other by staying apart, we now must look to affirm and strengthen this partnership further. We have started a dialogue with our PTO to look to build these connections through community events, opportunities for parents to share in their learning experience of your children, and for parents to be more involved in the life of our school. PTC will also be re-established and we will look to firm up the format and approach over the coming weeks. We look forward to continuing this dialogue and developing tangible and impactful means to strengthen our partnership.
However, before we are too harsh on ourselves, this need to reconnect and re-establish was predicted. Some of the literature has compared COVID to a natural disaster. All disasters have both individual and collective impacts. Zunin and Meyers (1991) have examined the phases of a disaster: pre-disaster, impact, heroic, honeymoon, disillusionment and reconstruction. We are moving out of disillusionment and are looking forward to “re-establish a healthy, functioning community that will sustain itself over time” with you all.
Head of School