How are schools helping families through the pandemic?

30th July 2020 by Gracie Stewart 3 Min ReadFrom ensuring home-based learning matches the quality of education delivered in the classroom, to managing the financial impacts of the outbreak, SHINHE CHO, Digital Marketing Manager at International Community School Singapore, shares some of the ways the school is helping families through the pandemic.Tuition freezeSingapore is among the 10 most expensive countries in the world for an international education. So, it’s no great surprise that COVID-19 has brought about financial difficulties for many families. However, while school fees still need to be paid, there’s some good news for parents; many international schools are looking to freeze tuition fees for the 2020-21 academic year.At ICS Singapore, the Board of Directors has voted to freeze tuition at the current rate as a way to help support families during this difficult time. This means the current published fees will remain the same for the next school year.As a registered charity, ICS operates solely on tuition and donations. All profit is placed into financial reserves at the end of each school year to be reinvested directly into the school and children’s learning. The decision to not increase tuition for the upcoming  year means ICS will use its financial reserves to cover the difference between the originally planned 3% increase and the actual 0% increase in fees. Staff wearing masks, ready to welcome students backOnline learning hubSince the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown measures (including the Circuit Breaker here in Singapore), schools around the world have been rolling out online learning. This has allowed students to continue their studies without interruption. While home-based learning can’t substitute entirely for classroom learning, according to former Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, “it’s important that schools blend the two, so they can harness the best of both worlds in a modern education system”.As a result, ICS Singapore has introduced an Online Learning Hub to keep the community connected and engaged. The idea is to promote continuous learning whether at school or at home. The Online Learning Hub provides useful tips, resource recommendations, health and wellness advice, online learning expectations and more, and is a one-stop shop for students’ continuous learning. The school has also introduced an #OnlineLearningWins hashtag across its social media accounts as a way to promote positive home-based learning. Socially distanced desksNew health and safety protocolsThere’s plenty for children to look forward to when they return after the summer break; catching up with friends, for starters! However, not everything will remain the same. Schools wil be looking to introduce a “new normal”. This means finding ways to reopen without putting pupils, teachers and their families at risk.ICS has been working hard to get the campus ready to resume face-to-face learning on 12 August. The team says that they’re committed to providing the safest possible environment for children to learn in. To this end, they’ve implemented all of the protocols and procedures the Singapore government has mandated on campus. This includes evaluating changes in the following areas:Operations: How children access campus, the bus service, drop-off and pick-up, and use of the canteen, gym and playground.Scheduling: Safe distancing of students in hallways, staggered bell schedules, and altered recess and lunch times.Teaching and learning: Distanced desks in classrooms, equipment wiped down between classes, wearing masks, no mixing of small groups, and assigned seating and collaboration work.Social-emotional: Individual counselling available, and K-12 in-class presentations by counsellors about safe behaviours and safe classrooms.Find out more about ICS and contact the school at ics.edu.sg.