As schools begin to reopen after spring shutdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19, parents world over are wrestling with the idea of sending their children to school or keep them at home to learn virtually. Some schools have reopened while others have chosen not to, taking their local context into consideration.
ICS has successfully opened its doors to students on Monday, 21 September. We have prepared our educational programs, health and safety protocols, and our campus, to safely allow for the return of students.
Almost one week into the start of school, we asked our new Chief Medical Officer, Krista Haley, RN, BSN to share her top tips to help lessen any anxieties about their children being at school during this pandemic.
Arm yourself with the facts. It’s easy to count the number of cases and worry endlessly about getting sick. “If we look at the numbers as a whole from when COVID began in Ethiopia the rate of infection is 6% and the death rate has been 0.09%.”* While this in no way minimizes the lives lost as a result of the virus, knowing that the likelihood of becoming severely ill is low could help ease some stress.”
For the latest information, we suggest you follow Lia Tadesse, Minister from the Ministry of Health Ethiopia on Twitter @lia_tadesse, or visit www.moh.gov.et.
Expect school to look different. As you have probably seen, ICS looks different this year. You can expect to see extra staff at every gate taking students’ temperatures and ensuring students are wearing their masks the correct way. Everyone has been and will continue to sanitize their hands upon entering campus and be required to keep 2 meters between each other when walking on campus. We have changed our classrooms for social distancing, creating social bubbles in ES, in addition to limiting access to campus. If this sounds restrictive, and it is, know that it’s all in an effort to keep everyone safe.
Know that all faculty will support your children. You might worry that your child will forget to sanitize their hands or keep their mask on all day. Luckily, all our faculty have been instructed on health protocols and know how to coach students to maximize their safety.
Avoid getting wrapped up in the what-ifs. Focusing on all the things that could go wrong in itself is ineffective and only causes more stress. Focus instead on what you can do and how you can support the health and safety of our community. The ICS Way is now more than ever important for all of us to do our part and follow all the health, safety, and quarantine guidelines from ICS, and the Ministry of Health.
Know that ICS has your best interest at heart. Our number one priority is the safety of our students and employees. Leadership has been working with the WHO, CDC, and international schools all around the world, and reaching out to healthcare professionals including our new Chief Medical Officer, to try and come up with the best option for the ICS community. While we have put in every effort to implement health and safety protocols to keep everyone safe, we also recognize the importance of taking a holistic approach to care. Our counseling office is ready to support students through our support program if they experience any stress.
“A holistic approach will encompass the physical, mental, and social well-being of children. If we don’t take care of our emotional well-being, then we risk jeopardizing mental health and that is equally important as our physical health.”
* Statistics based on figures from September 21, 2020