COVID-19: ISH Updates 

Updated: April 1st, 2020

Dear ISH Community,

Traditionally, a fun day on the calendar, my guess is that April’s Fools Day is on hold this year. But as Mr. Nicholson said this morning, moving into a new month, and turning the page on the calendar was psychologically beneficial. What is difficult for all of us at this time, is that everyone’s situation is different and one solution is not right for all. We are very aware of this and are striving to adjust and alter learning needs as the situation unfolds. Last night, Mr. Bellew and I attended a zoom call with over 140 international school leaders regarding how well technology has worked since school closure and what tips schools who were in week 7 of lockdown had to share. We concluded that ISH is in a good place and the steps we have taken in the transition to Continuous Learning have been a good example of best practices. 

For most teachers and students there are THREE challenges:

1. Pacing: Continuous learning takes longer!
2. Screen time: Justin Reich, an online learning researcher at MIT, says full on-screen time isn't the best approach to use, especially in the younger grades. "Young people don't have the attention or executive function skills to be able to sit and learn online for hours every day on their own."
3. Fatigue: Students and teachers do get tired! Particularly so about Week 6. Most schools started with a mirror schedule of their on-campus schedule in MS and HS but have amended that as they have moved into week 3 to reduce the amount of screen time for students, to make it more sustainable for teachers and to increase wellbeing for all.

From a pedagogical point of view, asynchronous learning is best most of the time. But one on one, occasional chats with kids is crucial. Office hours are very important for students!

A lot of learning we are doing relies on the intrinsic motivation of the students, even more so now that we have removed extrinsic motivators such as the G10 IGCSE exams and G12 IB Diploma exams. Daniel Pink in his book Drive identifies three essential elements of that:

1. Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives;
2. Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters;
3. Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

It is this that we must communicate to students and grow at all levels.

There was also a lot of talk during the zoom on the role of parents in this situation. Parents all over the world are in the same boat. As most parents at ISH were familiar with Google Classroom and Seesaw, our transition was smoother than in some schools. One participant said her child attended a state school and they were given an envelope with Xeroxed worksheets for their children and that was it. International schools are doing a much better job with Continuous Learning overall. May it continue!

What We Know Today

Today there are now 859,556 confirmed cases of COVID-19, in 180 countries, according to the Johns Hopkins CSSE site.  1457 active cases are in India, and in Telangana, there are 79 cases, and still 36 in Hyderabad.

We continue to follow the CDC and WHO websites and Indian Government guidelines and be in regular contact with ICRISAT, the US Consulate, British Deputy High Commission and the ISH Board Chair as well as other international schools in Hyderabad, India and globally.

What ISH is Doing:

  • Phone calls to the Community Yesterday, a team, led by Sunayana, contacted all the ISH families to do a check-in.  There was an overwhelmingly positive response from parents, who all seem happy that their children have a routine at home and are working productively. A few parents had concerns over screen time and wanted more. Please see the earlier message regarding this. As always, if any of you have any specific concerns, please speak with the classroom teacher and the divisional principal if necessary.
  • We will be holding a virtual Three-Way Conference next week. This is an opportune time for reflection and feedback on progress made thus far in the school year and notably with this new way of learning. Conferences will take place between 8.00 am - 6.00 pm on Thursday, 9th April and 8.00 am - 12 noon on Friday, 10th April. This is a similar schedule and process to what we have done in recent conferences and allows for most teachers to have discussions with almost all learners and families. Of course, this time it will be done virtually. We will thus be counting Good Friday as a school day but everyone will get a clean break from noon through to Monday. We are taking the learnings from schools that have already undertaken virtual Three-Way Conferences. Details will be out from the division by the end of this week.
  • We have taken into account the information from other schools, as well as the feedback from the recent secondary survey, and will look to adopt a modified schedule from Monday, 6th April. The day length will be sustained, but zoom timings and homeroom timings varied. This is in line with what is considered a healthy, balanced learning day for secondary students.
  • STUCO has discussed and will lead some whole school spirit virtual activities, generally culminating weekly, on Fridays. We hope that this helps sustain student social discussion, with a focus on creativity.
  • We will be sending out a Google form regarding your intentions related to remaining at ISH for the next school year. For some of you, this will be an unknown, but we appreciate as many of you as possible filling it out (even if unknown) to help us plan, giving the uncertainty going forward.

The US Consulate passed this along regarding children’s overall health during this time:

CDC - Children and COVID19 - 23 March 2020

FROM THE WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL - Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

 "Yesterday I sent a tweet with a single word: Humility. Some people asked me why.  COVID-19 is reminding us how vulnerable we are, how connected we are and how dependent we are on each other. In the eye of a storm like COVID, scientific and public health tools are essential, but so are humility and kindness. With solidarity, humility and assuming the best of each other, we can – and will – overcome this together".

Finally, for today, I was fortunate to be part of a Women in Leadership group who were ‘Pressing Pause to Carry On’ by sharing a meaningful poem or video, etc. One school leader sent this An Ordinary Miracle Day Please enjoy.

Updated: March 30th, 2020

Dear ISH Community,          

As we begin our third week of continuous learning, I hope we are all energized after a restful weekend (albeit for many of us a bit busier than normal with cleaning, washing, and cooking, etc.). The SLT continues to meet daily to check that learning is functioning successfully. The sun is shining, and we are luckier than many around the globe and we remain truly grateful for this. On a  very positive note, one of our Juniors (Grade 11) student’s Prakhar Varshney scored 1500 in the SATs – this is in the 99th percentile. Quite incredible. Congratulations Prakhar!!! If anyone has any achievements to share, please send along to Sunita (s.verghese@ishyd.org).
 
What We Know Today

  • Today there are now 722,435  confirmed cases of COVID-19, in 177 countries, according to the Johns Hopkins CSSE site. 1024 cases are in India, and in Telangana, there are 66 cases, of which  36 in Hyderabad. We are aware that it is difficult to be completely accurate with these figures.
  • We continue to follow the CDC and WHO links and Indian Government guidelines and be in regular contact with ICRISAT, the US Consulate, British Deputy High Commission and the ISH Board Chair as well as other international schools in Hyderabad, India and globally.

What ISH is Doing 

  • Continuous Learning is being adjusted in secondary school as per survey feedback.
  • Our operations team will be reaching out via phone to all 280 ISH families this week to check in with all our community.
  • IB and IGCSE teachers continue to meet virtually to discuss the impact of the cancellation of the examination session.
  • Online attendance remains very important for completing the school year.
  • Please continue to refer to the Continuous Learning Site and COVID-19 information for the latest updates.
  • Resilience and keeping well during this time is crucial for all. Here is an essential read for a school community in support of your children's mental health from WHO: "Mental health and psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic”.  Resilience during COVID-19

We are all part of a global social experiment, whereas a community we are in lockdown. There is very little research on the amount of time or context where isolation starts to take a physical or emotional toll. The cautionary tale here is to stay connected, by whatever creative means. Psychiatrists prefer the term "physical distancing", to ensure socialization continues, even if done virtually. So, please feel free to contact any of the team, at any time. We are here for you.
 
Be kind to one another.
 

Updated: March 27th, 2020

Dear ISH Community,

As we end our second week of school closure for students and our 8th day of continuous learning, we remain very optimistic on the learning front. We are delighted as to how this is working and thank you for the positive feedback to teachers and leadership - everyone is doing their best. We are also aware of how tough it can be for families who are all working from home.

This is really a 'Change Situation' and many of us have taken courses, both in the business and educational spheres on Change Management and once this is over, we will all have our tales to tell. But I think when change occurs, of any nature, there is often a sense of loss. A parent sent this link which she is sharing with all her staff in this time of exponential change to everyone's normal daily life. It is worth a read.

https://hbr-org.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/hbr.org/amp/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

A few uplifting quotes from parents:

  • Not sure if the kids will go back to regular school as they are enjoying online school too much!
  • I would like to congratulate the ISH team for doing such a wonderful job in these difficult times.
  • The online classes have been excellent and great to see kids studying and on a schedule. The school community is amazing and we are so fortunate to be a part of this.
  • We as parents cannot imagine what it takes to continue to manage the education of children at ISH in such an extreme situation.
  • We are so appreciative of all of the efforts of the teachers and the ISH leadership team.
  • The efforts the school is making towards continued learning with focus & dedication is truly exceptional.
  • The teachers at ISH are our true heroes in this unprecedented time.
  • I have always known our kids are in the best hands but this past week how the school efficiently transformed into an online environment so seamlessly is the true testament to all of you.
  • My deepest gratitude to you, your leadership team & all the teachers who have kept our kids engaged in their learning journey without slightest disruption.

What We Know Today

  • The Government lockdown continues.
  • Today there are now 531,684 confirmed cases of COVID-19, in 171 countries, according to the Johns Hopkins CSSE site. 727 cases are in India, and in Telangana, there are 44 cases, of which 36 in Hyderabad.
  • We continue to follow the CDC and WHO links and Indian Government guidelines and be in daily contact with ICRISAT, the US Consulate, UK High Commission and the ISH Board Chair as well as other international schools in Hyderabad, India and globally.

What ISH is Doing

  • Our Leadership Team continues to be in daily virtual contact with all teachers and have been talking with whole grades over their concerns, especially the exam-taking classes. This situation is unprecedented in both IB and IGCSE history and all schools are grappling with this. I am on an IB Schools in India group on Whatsapp (there are a lot of schools!) and although they too all have many questions, it is great to hear that most of them have managed solid online learning too).
  • Our Operations Team has reached out to every one of our ISH workers and they are all healthy and eager to return to work.
  • We are asking that all teachers take their weekend to relax as the weeks are intense.
  • We continue to emphasize that all students attend classes online as they need to do this in order to complete the school year, however, this may unfold. For grades 9-12, this is a graduation requirement.
  • The Secondary Division has created and shared a survey with students and parents to gather input regarding the continuous learning schedule structure.
  • We are preparing some entertainment for you…but you will have to wait!
  • Please continue to refer to the Continuous Learning Site and this page for the latest updates.