by Zuzanna Kaczmarek and Abaigeal Lorge
Like ASW, many schools are now open following the start of the new academic year. With the beginning of the new school year, many of the schools have chosen to implement strict regulations to protect the community. The most common guidelines include maintaining social distancing, the sanitization of hands and surfaces, and mask wearing.
Margarida N., a student from a private school in Lisbon, Portugal, Colégio Pedro Arrupe, provided insight on her school’s approach to prevent the spread of the virus within the community. Regulations include “mask wearing, open windows, different breaks for each grade, sanitation, only certain grades allowed in certain spaces, different entrances.” The school aims at separating the community into cohorts in order to prevent the spread of the virus throughout different grade levels, ranging from Pre-K grade twelve.
Moreover, students, as well as teachers, may choose to switch to online school if they “have any special health conditions” or concerns regarding their safety. Likewise, ASW students and faculty can alternate between virtual (hybrid mode) and regular school.
In the neighbouring country of Spain, the International School of Madrid has overcome its obstacles, reopening for this academic year. However, strict regulations must be met by both students and faculty: “Masks are obligatory at all times of the day everywhere on campus, [and] sanitation is required when entering each class,” said Victoire D, a student from the school. He says that all students must “clean our desks upon entering each classroom” for every class throughout the whole day. Moreover, the health status is monitored regularly: “Temperature checks are required when entering the school.” Throughout the whole campus there is a strong emphasis on obligatory social distancing: in classrooms the “desks are measured to be exactly 1.5 meters away from each other.”
In contrast to ASW, however, the ISM does not administer regular COVID-19 testing “unless you have been in close contact with someone confirmed with corona.” Any student with a positive test “must confine for 10 days and then get a PCR test – if negative they may come back to school.” In ASW, on the other hand, COVID-19 testing plays a major role in the school’s regulations, with students being tested weekly or even daily.
Some schools, however, have not implemented as strict regulations. A public high school in Malmo, Sweden, has invited their 1400 students to return to school this August, but implemented limited COVID protocols. When asked about whether masks were mandatory, Emelie A, an attendee, responded that “No one wears a mask.”
The school does implement some regulations, such as the one which Emelie A mentioned, stating that “They open the windows (ish)… before school.”
Due to little testing, Emelie A expressed that “there are like two confirmed cases that [she’s] heard of, although there likely may be more. They [the administration] doesn’t really tell anyone.” The school only informed the community of the two COVID cases once an article came out in the press about the infections.
Nevertheless, some schools have remained virtual. In many countries, it is beyond the individual school’s choice as to whether or not they choose to open their campus to students and faculty. According to Sophia T., a student attending the International School of Port of Spain, “We’re planning to be in virtual school indefinitely. The government has said that it’s unlikely schools will open before December 31st.” Unless otherwise indicated by the Polish government, or by an escalation in the crisis rendering the campus unsafe for students and faculty, ASW intends to remain open for the remainder of the school year.
While some schools have had the luxury to open following the 2020 summer vacation, and others less fortunate have remained closed, ASW has implemented a variety of concrete measures and safety procedures for its community, surpassing many of the protocols implemented by other schools.