Fri, Jan 31, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Virus Fears: Some international schools delay classes, or go digital

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Concerns about the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has led several international schools and organizations in Taiwan to extend their Lunar New Year holiday closures, or take other precautions, given the number of students’ families and staff who traveled abroad during the holiday.

Many of the schools were due to resume classes either yesterday or Monday next week, compared with a majority of Taiwanese schools, whose long winter holiday break, which began on Tuesday last week, is not scheduled to end until Feb. 10, with classes to resume on Feb. 11 for most of them.

The Taipei European School (TES) in Shilin District (士林), which was scheduled to reopen on Monday, has pushed back the start of classes to Monday, Feb. 10.

TES said initially said that staff would be at school on Monday and Tuesday to make classroom preparations, including additional disinfection measures, so the campus could reopen on Wednesday, but on Saturday it announced it would delay classes until Feb. 10.

The Taipei American School (TAS), also in Shilin, posted a message on its Web site that it had moved back its opening from Monday to Thursday “to be sure we have the best and most timely information and have taken every precaution we can to keep community members as safe as possible.”

In an e-mail to parents, school head Sharon Hennessy said that the school would be checking the temperature of every person who enters TAS when it reopens, and that additional details of safety protocols would be announced later.

However, the Taipei Japanese School in Shilin reopened yesterday as scheduled, after notifying parents on Tuesday that all children and parents would be required to wear masks on campus during and after school, and that hand sanitizers would be placed at the school’s main gate and all entering the campus would be required to use them.

It also said that windows would be kept open to improve ventilation and that any student with a temperature higher than 37.6oC would be sent home.

The Kaohsiung International School had been due to resume classes yesterday, but on Tuesday, director of learning technology Brian Meehan posted a notice on its Web site that it was switching to online instruction under its “Digital Days” plan for middle and high-school students as of yesterday, and for elementary-school students today.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and hope to return to normal operations sometime between February 6 and February 10, though we may switch earlier/later depending on how the situation progresses,” Meehan wrote.

As of press time last night, the Dominican International School in Taipei, Morrison Academy — which has branches in New Taipei City’s Linkou District (林口), Taichung and Kaohsiung, as well as a satellite academy in Chiayi — the Taipei Adventist American School on Yangmingshan and the Asia American International Academy in New Taipei City, among other schools, had not posted notices on their Web sites or responded to e-mail requests about possible delays.

The Community Service Center in Shilin announced on Wednesday, that due to the postponed openings at TAS and TES, it was canceling its classes and tours next week, but planned to resume normal activities on Feb. 10.

The center’s Web site (www.communitycenter.org.tw) now has a 2019-nCoV page with links to the English-language Web sites of the WHO’s 2019-nCoV background information and the Centers for Disease Control’s “Latest News” page.

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