Page 8 - FIS World December 2020
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The Bright Side
A look at the positive outcomes of our pandemic response
Late on a Friday afternoon last March, the German government announced that schools would be shut down due to increasing numbers of Covid-19
cases. The abrupt closure and quick transition to the Distance Learning Plan (DLP) was a big test for the FIS community. School leaders were faced with an unprecedented crisis situation, parents had to cope with extraordinary demands juggling childcare with working from home, and teachers were challenged to maintain continuity of learning through new modes of teaching.
As we cope with the inevitable challenges of the next few months, let us keep in mind the positives that this shared experience has brought to our community.
school is really like for the kids.”And since campus ac- cess has been restricted since the start of school this year, FIS has also reported an uptick in attendance at virtual information evenings and parent confer- ences, with the recent Upper School Back to School Night recording the highest ever attendance. As Dr. Michael Johnston, Assistant Head of School explains, “Parents were able to attend from different countries, from their living room, or while feeding their children in the kitchen, and they didn’t need to worry about who would look after their children.”
In service of others
The pandemic has offered many opportunities for our community members to demonstrate empathy toward one another and our wider community. The FIS Cares email address was set up for any FIS community member experiencing dif- ficulty due to Covid-19 or a quarantine to write to request support. Whether assisting with shopping needs, translation or other support and advice, FIS parents, faculty and staff have stepped up to help one another.
One such parent was Karey Crain. At the beginning of the pandemic she began to make masks for her family and kept adjusting the design to make them more comfortable. When she finally found a design that everyone liked, she set to work making masks for the Oberursel Campus Primary School teachers. Ms. Crain says, “Our teachers at the Primary School are so lovely, and they are helping our children through what could be a very stressful time if not for their loving guidance. I made masks for them as a small token of my appreciation.”
Students stepped up, too, with Grade 12 student Tom S. being awarded the Mark E. Ulfers Award for the leadership he showed during this year’s Kalahari project. Tom explains how a team of students is supporting children in South Africa during the pandemic: “Over the past few months, the Kalahari Team has been developing an off-the-grid learning management system to provide local learners with
   An assortment of colorful masks sewn by PS parent, Karey Crain. Many parents and faculty have provided masks for the school.
The effect on our students was profound: children were physically isolated from their peers and dis- tanced from the hands-on support they were used to from teachers. For our youngest children, under- standing why they were only able to interact with classmates and teachers on a screen was itself a con- ceptual challenge. For older students, having to rely more on their own organizational and self-manage- ment skills was a steep learning curve.
Nevertheless, as a community we have much to be grateful for. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), many students worldwide were not offered remote learning and/or did not have access to a computer to use for their schoolwork. FIS was fortunate to be able to quickly mobilize, launching the DLP within two days of the school closure being announced and pooling resources across divisions to ensure every student had access to a digital device at home.
Since then, it has become clear that the pandemic has driven countless positive experiences and interac- tions among our community members, and the ways in which we have responded with resilience and em- pathy are changing our school for the better. Here are just a few unexpected outcomes and heartwarm- ing stories arising from our pandemic experience.
Home-school connectedness
During the FIS school closure, parents gained insight into their child’s education as they took on the role of the teacher, discovering, as one parent put it, “What
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