Dear Parents and Colleagues,
Last week’s newsletter had a summary of the results of the virtual open meeting and the thought exchange we had with parents and staff. Above everything else, the priority for Academia Cotopaxi and IMAGINE is to ensure, to the best of our ability, the safest, cleanest and most child-friendly atmosphere for our students and staff. At the same time we will continue to focus on maintaining and extending the robust learning that your children are accustomed to receiving. At the same time as we plan for the safest of campus access, we realize that we will need to continue access to on-line (distance) learning experiences for a variety of contingencies, students who cannot be on campus for health concerns, temporary closure of the campus in case of a resurgence, travel restrictions that keep children out of Quito. These are all part of the scenario planning we are currently undertaking.
With respect to social distancing and hygiene, at Academia Cotopaxi we have many unique characteristics that will, like our teaching and learning, place us as a leader in the community and around the world. These characteristics include:
- 1) A very large campus for the number of students with many underutilized learning spaces as well as large classrooms for social distancing and additional division of groups. Some schools are considering splitting the days into morning and afternoon groups or alternating days by grade level due to congestion in their classrooms. We should, pending government authorization, be able to as closely as possible mirror our current hours of instruction for all students. We know it is very important to parents as they return to work that their children have a safe school that they can attend for the full day.
- 2) We collaborate with and learn from examples of other schools in Asia and elsewhere that are in the process of reopening their campuses.
- 3) We have an idyllic climate with no need for air conditioning or heating, which can recirculate potentially contaminated air.
- 4) We have an excellent team of professional educators and support staff dedicated to your children's academic, emotional and physical well-being. They get it. We are all aware we need to place health and safety at the front of all our decisions and actions.
- 5) We have a supportive and engaged community of parents (you) who have proven to be true partners in learning during our distance learning. We all know that empathy and teamwork will continue as we adapt our operations to reopening.
Things will be different. That is true in every business and place where large numbers of people meet and interact. But we have the means to ensure safety while not overly impacting the joy of being with one’s classmates and teachers. There is lots of information we will be able to easily confirm regarding the “how” once we have official government requirements. The big question is “when”. Our intention is to start school on August 19 as on our annual calendar, regardless if on-campus or on-line. We still do not have official government notifications regarding this. As soon as we have official notification parents will be the first to know.
Here are some videos on how other schools are opening. I invite you to watch these. We will adopt and adapt from these and many other examples for our realities and requirements here in Quito.
- Reopening Schools in Denmark
- Taiwan Reopening schools (Note: Taiwan has 23 million people and only 7 COVID-19 deaths. They are a culture used to wearing masks.)
- This school in China has shared a very comprehensive model of their safeguards for health and safety.
As stated we have the opportunity to build upon the examples of other schools for a most robust safety protocol which will be communicated with parents prior to opening. This is important as we are a team in the effort to ensure everyone’s health.
Robert van der Eyken