You will have read in last Monday’s Weekly Memo that the school reopening has been accompanied by requirements that oblige us to cancel a number of projects, activities and outings, which had been scheduled to take place up to and including the 4th of May (a timeframe that may well be prolonged). In deciding to cancel these events, we are following the  instructions of the Taiwanese authorities, which TES receives regularly and acts on promptly.

Sometimes the instructions are open to interpretation in the manner that they apply to daily life at TES, sometimes no interpretation is necessary. For example, that swimming classes must be cancelled is spelled out in black and white, but what about trips to the Yangmingshan campus as part of the all-important CM2-6eme transition? Or awards evenings? The instructions are less explicit in these cases.

The TES leadership team has dedicated many hours to working out a framework of reference to ensure maximum student safety, to guarantee the school’s essential services and to help us make important decisions.  Our priority is to keep access to our campuses to a minimum and to curtail student gatherings as much as possible (see this week’s letter from the CEO).

As a result, we have decided not to host any activities run by external specialists (a decision that has had an impact on the primary ECAs and the peripatetic music lessons). Owing to the nature of their work, external specialists may visit many different schools and clubs, thus multiplying their potential risk of exposure to and/ or transmission of the virus. Non-essential events (the secondary disco, the international food fair) have also been cancelled.

However, we are doing our utmost to host the strictly academic activities that had been scheduled, albeit under adapted circumstances. To give you two examples: the Maths Kangaroo competition will still take place, but we will not gather all of the competitors together in one large space as we traditionally do (thank you to the teachers who have volunteered to supervise the myriad of smaller groups this year); the 1ère and Terminale interviews will be held at the French Chamber of Commerce tomorrow on the condition that participants will be subjected to the same screening process as at school (temperature checks and hand sanitisation).  Thank you to Stéphane Peden, the director of the Chamber of Commerce who has ensured that these conditions are met.

As I was saying, it is not always easy to decide which activities should be cancelled and which should still be held. Firstly because the teachers have spent so many hours preparing projects and they, like the students, are disappointed to learn that the main event cannot take place. Secondly, it is sometimes difficult to assess the risks (especially when we are so aware of the gains!).  Finally, it can quite simply be frustrating to find a solution (our British colleagues, whose exams start sooner than ours are facing a serious challenge as they try to organise the exams under the best conditions – because of course we cannot cancel the exams!).

Adapting to the state’s requirements is time-consuming, but essential work because obviously we cannot play fast and loose with the health of our students and staff. It is above all particularly effective on a countrywide scale. How can one fail to be impressed by the manner that Taiwan has managed this health emergency and kept the number of cases relatively limited on this island?

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