I hope you have had a peaceful Songkran Break with your families safely at home as we all continue to experience this global lockdown. To say we are all in very challenging times at present is an understatement and I just wanted to give you all a heads-up on where the school is at as we start Term 3 still on a virtual platform. Normally during the first week of Term 3, I comment on how quiet the Patana campus is with our Year 11 and 13 students away preparing for exams. As I look out my Sala window this morning there is an eerie, subdued quietness as we head into another week of school closure.
Earlier this week, our Foundation Board Chair Dr Tej Bunnag wrote to our parent community sending his support and sympathies as many of our Patana families are really feeling the consequences of this COVID-19 crisis. As a school community, it is important to recognise the impact the pandemic is having on our families as we deeply care about them and hope that there is a positive light at the end of the tunnel.
On Monday April 20, which is the official start of Term 3, our Continuing Student Learning programme gets back into action. We have sent out two parent surveys and we are receiving regular student feedback relating to their CSL programme. We intend to survey teachers later next week and then will send out another parent survey the following week, as we really want to support our students as best we can during this challenging period. Our teachers are totally committed to our CSL programme and have spent hours making sure their interaction between their students is as high quality as feasibly possible. Can I remind you that the most effective means of communicating regarding your child(ren)’s learning continues to be through their class or subject teacher and the Leaders of Learning in Primary or Heads of Year/Faculty in Secondary. On the last day of Term 2, the Primary and Secondary principals wrote to you with updates on the CSL programme in their respective schools and I have included key takeaways from their letters below.
Our CSL provision in the Primary School is continuing to develop and evolve, and after the holiday period, we will begin delivering some of the learning in real time. To ensure that this is as effective as possible, we will start small (1 Maths and 1 Literacy lesson per week) and expand as the teachers and students become more familiar with this new way of teaching and learning. The weekly small group well-being check-in calls will continue as well.
A concern raised from the first two weeks of CSL in the Secondary School is that students would like more direct teacher contact in each of their lessons. Teachers have rapidly upskilled in their use of MS Teams and all will be in a position by the middle of the first week of Term 3 to provide more regular contact in the following ways:
- Teachers will be present throughout each lesson, available to support students as needed.
- Teachers will almost always begin the lesson with a video call – welcoming students, sharing and explaining the Learning Intention/Success Criteria, providing resources and setting students off with their learning. Basically, exactly what happens in classes in school.
- Teachers will almost always bring the class back together for another face to face at the end of the lesson to check on progress with the success criteria, field questions and say goodbye.
Information has been sent out to all Year 11 students stating that;
In Term 3 all subjects will offer a pre-IB preparation programme for Year 11 students.
This involves a range of specially designed and tailored activities, resources, and mini-projects to support our Year 11 students make the transition from (I)GCSE to IB.
As well as stimulus material to engage and challenge students’ thinking, there will be regular opportunities to participate in online sessions as part of our CSL programme with subject-specialist teachers and like-minded students. Students can have face-to-face interactions in groups for discussions, mini-lectures, on-screen demos or to ask questions. The programme will start in the first week of Term 3 with the release of stimulus material and a sign up for face-to-face sessions starting the following week.
A number of parents have written to me over the holiday break to ask realistically when I think school will be able to reopen especially after reading the MOE announcement dated 9th April stating all Thai schools will not reopen until 1st July.
The last paragraph in the MOE announcement mentions that ‘Furthermore, international private schools with different school term dates (including Bangkok Patana), are permitted to start school semester immediately, providing that they are able to offer instructional models and methodologies in line with the State of Emergency as declared in the area where each school is located.’ Therefore, the ability of schools to reopen thereafter will depend on the control of the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Thailand. The good news is the number of COVID-19 cases in Thailand has been on the decline over the past week, so the social distancing strategy seems to be working thus far.
We remain committed to being able to open the campus as soon as the government authorities allow us to do so. Over the April Break I have been reading and reaching out to school heads in China who are further down the lockdown process and are now looking at reopening their schools in the very near future.
Their reopening plans include the introduction of systems limiting campus access such as temperature checks and green QR health codes, heightened cleaning and sanitising regimes, systems to manage pupil gatherings such as staggered dining and online assemblies broadcast to classrooms, protocols for managing suspected virus cases during the school day, and changes to school transport plans.
Lots to think about as we look at a reopening plan at some stage hopefully in Term 3. The Senior Leadership Team are meeting regularly to strategise and talk through all the issues as we continue to deal with this very challenging pandemic. As usual, I plan to keep you updated whenever there is a new update from the government relating to schools or if there is a change of plan. I do hope our Patana students are fully recharged and ready to start their CSL programmes on Monday.
Head of School