A “normal” world

In a normal world, there would be no school on this 1st of May, I would therefore like to thank the teachers for having responded to the call and come to work today – donating their time and energy to teach their students for a day without pay.  A thank you for coming in also goes to the administrative staff and the assistants, who will take their day off at another moment. Finally, thank you to the students – and their families – for showing up for school (95% attendance). What  one wonders, does a normal world really mean these days? Even in Taiwan, where the pandemic couldn’t be better contained, the global crisis provoked by the Coronavirus has consequences for all of us at varying levels.

At school, the “new normal” means parents waiting at the school gate, everyone wearing masks all the time, temperature control checks at the entrance, meals eaten in silence sitting far from one another, and a school year that is stretching out before us without any exams on the horizon – except for the 1ère students who will get to do their French oral exams for the Bac (lucky them!). Fees for all national exams have been reimbursed to the families concerned.

Beyond the world of school, many of us are quite simply in shock about what is happening in the world right now: holiday plans are up in the air, family and friends are in confinement back home with moods  swinging from resigned to desperate, and the chances of getting to see them in person this summer are getting slimmer by the day. I know that the current state of uncertainty means a lot of French Section families’ professional and personal plans are in disarray; many of you have contacted the school to notify us and we are very grateful – even when you don’t have much concrete information at the moment – it helps us to prepare realistically for next year. Please do not hesitate to reach out and let us know if your planned departure has been delayed, or on the other hand, if you thought your family was staying with us in 2020-2021 and it now turns out that you are leaving. We will of course treat anything you share with us with the utmost confidentiality.

On a personal note, Andria and I are also going through a similar experience to a lot of you – uncertain plans and a fluctuating calendar are our new normal. Just a few weeks ago, we were being congratulated on the news of my nomination as head of a French school in New York, whereas now friends and family are concerned to see us leaving for one of the virus’s epicentres (rest assured – we are stockpiling masks!). Our departure date is unsure – July? August? September? Will schools be open there then or not? Who knows?

In the meantime, while we are all waiting for answers to our questions, the FS administration is preparing for the school year 2020-2021: room, teacher and class timetables, school councils, the transition from CM2 to 6ème, estimates, maintenance work, orders, admissions, welcoming a new head and primary head…we are resiliently working to prepare a normal back-to-school in an abnormal world, so that everything will be in its right place on the 24th August.

Because school will definitely be open then, right?

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