Physical School – Open from August 24th 2020
We opened the school on Monday 24 August for the start of the 2020/21 year, with our COVID-19 Protocol in place to protect students and staff from infection. Although we are ready to accept all students in the school, a government decree only allows students up to local Grade 1 to be at school. We are therefore open for the younger grades, and provide remote learning for all higher grades as well as remote learning support for younger students who are not able to be in the physical school.
Our COVID-19 Protocol is working well, including:
- No more than 10 students on a school bus, with staggered seating, face masks and hand sanitiser;
- Only students and staff are allowed into the school campus.
- Temperature check on school entry, with entry only allowed for healthy students and staff;
- Face masks for all students and staff in school (except when eating) with the school providing washable ‘Taigan’ masks for everyone;
- Hand sanitizer stations in every classroom and in corridors at every doorway;
- All touched surfaces (handles, desks etc) are sanitized at least once every 2 hours;
- Snacks and lunch for staff (and in future for Middle/High School students) are provided in picnic boxes to eat outside;
- Primary students have more staggered break times to allow social distancing when eating in the café;
- An additional medical isolation room and both a doctor and nurse in the school;
Our remote learning approach has built on our experience in March-June to now include:
- A more consistent in approach in using Zoom and Nearpod and ManageBac by all teachers;
- More extensive use of Managebac to help students track their own learning;
Within the physical school we have expanded the space available for students by renting neighbouring property for an external Reception for parents and visitors, Diploma student study rooms, a staff building. We have also added a covered roof terrace on the E-Centre for Diploma students and staff. All of these facilities improvements free up other spaces in the school for younger students.
We will open the physical school to higher grades as soon as government allows this to happen. We expect some change in the government position some time after parliamentary elections which take place on 4th October 2020.
Remote Learning: March-June 2020
On Saturday March 14th, five days before any COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the Kyrgyz Republic, the Government announced the closure of all schools from Monday March 16th, with reopening planned for April 10th. On Monday March 22nd the country entered an emergency regime, with overnight curfew and ‘stay at home’ lockdown. The Government lockdown was gradually eased between May 15th and June 1st but schools remained closed with all school events, including exams, cancelled, and ceremonies banned until the end of the school year. Further shutdowns are possible if COVID-19 cases increase in future.
At BIS, all staff met on March 16th for training on the pre-designed remote learning plans, which were fully implemented for all grades from March 17th until the end of the summer term on June 18th.
Remote learning provision was adapted to the curriculum and age group according to needs:
Preschool: Primary Years Programme
Students continued their inquiry-based and core subject learning throughout the school closure period. Teachers offered multiple sessions per day to meet either as a class or individually to ensure preschool students around the world had access to face-to-face interactions.
Students were also provided with daily activities to complete at home. These activities were often supported by remote learning activity packs delivered to families on a weekly basis to ensure fine motor skill development continued.
Students and parents had the opportunity to call Preschool teachers on a daily basis through open-call sessions. These calls acted as a support resource for those who had questions regarding the activities set.
Preschool students were able to participate in the Primary School assemblies during the remote learning period, and our learner profile certificates focusing on celebrating student efforts in being ‘Caring, Principled and Reflective,’ were extended to preschool students during this time.
Students had the opportunity to participate in assessment style projects though these were not formally assessed or reported. Preschool Remote Learning Report Cards reflected on student participation through individual comments. All standards covered during this time were also reported.
Primary 1-6: Primary Years Programme
Students continued their inquiry-based and core subject learning throughout the school closure period. Students met as a class community each day to explore their transdisciplinary themes or to inquire into mathematical or literacy concepts. Teachers adapted lessons in light of the challenges of learning from home to ensure that PYP activities could be accessed by all.
Students had the option of participating in specialist classes. Weekly activities and pre-recorded videos were provided for Music, Art, Dance and Languages.
For Library and PE lessons, students had the option of joining live fitness classes and reading buddies sessions on a daily basis. Our teachers brought lots of energy to these sessions and often set exciting daily and weekly challenges to keep engagement levels high.
Students used two learning platforms during the remote learning period. Our Primary 1 – Primary 4 students shared evidence of their learning and received feedback via Class Dojo. Our Primary 5 – Primary 6 students used their school emails and ManageBac accounts to continue communication and collaboration with their peers and teachers.
In addition to daily calls, activities and optional live sessions, students had the opportunity to attend weekly assemblies to meet as a whole Primary School community. These sessions included opportunities for students to receive achievement awards, recognition of learner profile traits, join in fun competitions and challenges, and share their talents.
All Primary 1 – Primary 6 students were set summative assessment tasks for their Unit of Inquiries. Students were not assessed for specialist classes during this time. Students and families were provided with a comments-based report. Grades for Unit of Inquiry summative assessments were also provided. Optional family reflections were added to reports as the nature of our inquiry-based remote learning included much collaboration between teachers, students and parents.
Middle School: Middle Years Programme
Students followed their normal timetabled lessons throughout the period of remote learning, but teachers shortened and adapted lessons in light of the challenges of learning from home. Students used our learning platform, ManageBac, to access activities for each lesson and submit ‘exit tickets’: short tasks used for attendance, to check understanding and provide feedback. Students had the opportunity to attend weekly video calls for each subject as well as reach out to teachers for individual calls where they needed extra support. Students submitted adapted MYP summative assessments as planned and were provided with a full report and full set of grades in June 2020 based on their performance across the academic year.
High School: Cambridge IGCSE
In the IGCSE programme, the IGCSE 1 students continued with their normal lessons throughout the period of remote learning. These lessons were shorter than the normal in class experience as they were adapted to focus on key concepts and allow for flexibility of different students with different challenges at home. All students used the ManageBac platform to follow their appointment schedule more closely with all assignment and exit tickets collected in one central location. Students also had the opportunity to have weekly lessons with their form teachers while IGCSE teachers were available for online hours from 15:30 – 16:30 on each school day. As for assessment, the students followed the assessment objective of the IGCSE programme with some adaptation to accommodate for remote learning.
On March 23rd Cambridge International Assessment cancelled the IGCSE exams for May 2020. For this Grade 10 year, we replaced the planned exam period with summative assignments for each course as part of their semester grade, with these assignments also available to submit to Cambridge to check against predicted grades if required. These summative assignments were aligned to Cambridge Assessment Objectives for each subject with care taken to ensure fairness in the application and assessment of each individual student’s submission to be as reflective of their true ability as possible.
High School: IB Diploma Programme
The planned education programme continued for first year Diploma Students. Live video calls via Zoom at least once a week for all courses, with attendance/engagement measured via ‘exit tickets’ with formative tasks to be completed within 24 hours. Summative assignments were adapted to the new environment and completed as planned, with the standard IB Diploma grading system.
For second year Diploma Students, Internal Assessments and oral examinations were completed as planned. For oral examination, exam papers were delivered to student homes and opened on camera at the start of the exam session. On March 22nd the International Baccalaureate Organisation cancelled all examinations for May 2020. We moved quickly for the graduating Class of 2020, to replace the exam preparation period and examinations with summative project assignments for each course as part of their final semester grade and High School Diploma requirement.
Problems Found and Support Provided
Students were surveyed three times during remote learning and parents surveyed twice, to assess student and parent experience and to understand how to improve remote learning provision. All scores and comments were taken into account and adjustments made to the provision of remote learning based on this feedback.
Some students required Chromebooks from school and these were delivered to student homes as required. Some students had poor internet access, though 4G coverage in the city was sufficient for most tasks. Problems sometimes arose if internet service providers failed during video calls or tests.
The School Counsellor was available to provide student support via Zoom or email as required. The Inclusive Education team continued to support students in need.
Initial COVID-19 Response: January - February 2020
From January 28th, following news of coronavirus in China and before any cases in Central Asia, we:
- Required all students and staff to stay home when sick.
- Provided immediate checks of any students with high temperature or cough and sent students home if they presented with flu like symptoms.
- Provided face masks at school for all staff and students to use if desired.
- Required any student or staff member who was coughing, but without flu symptoms (e.g. raised temperature) to wear a medical face mask at school to reduce the risk of disease spread.
- Trained all students again in hygiene etiquette, including effective hand washing with soap and water and covering their mouth and nose with a tissue or coughing/sneezing into their elbow.
- Provided hand sanitizers in every Primary Classroom and in Reception, to use as a back-up in cases when washing hands was not possible.
From February 17th, we added the requirement that any students or staff who visited any country with COVID-19 cases must not return to school for the first 14 days after their return to Bishkek, to reduce the risk of bringing the virus to school, and to discourage travel by our community to countries with known COVID-19 cases as reported by WHO.
Donations for the Ambulance Service
Our school doctor – Dr Asel – has been called-up to work full time as an ambulance doctor, with 18 hour shifts every second day, due to medical system overload with the COVID-19 crisis, and BIS decided to support the ambulance service in Bishkek as our small contribution to help with the emergency regime.
We thank everyone in the BIS Community who is helping and supporting the ambulance services. By the end of May donations already received were $3,654 equivalent and spending of $3,489 equivalent, including $228 for PPE and cleaning materials, $2,935 for hot food for ambulance staff from 28th April to 13th May, and $327 to purchase cooking equipment (electric stove, microwave and kettle) for ambulance station #3.
We are still raising money to buy similar equipment for other ambulance stations and Dr. Asel is finding out how else we can help them. Please donate what you can to support medical staff who are risking their lives to save ours. For SOM donations the Elsom e-wallet number is: 0706 200 200. Full instructions for Elsom are here. For USD donations, transfer to the special BIS account for ‘Medical Supplies’
Beneficiary name: PF “ESCA-Bishkek International School”
Account № of KICB: 070-55066534
Description of Payment: COVID-19 Donation
If you have any questions or suggestions or wish to donate physical supplies instead of money, please email firstname.lastname@example.org