The principal of an international school in Hong Kong has said after nine weeks of physical disconnection due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have learnt a lot and “stumbled at times”.
All schools in Hong Kong have been closed since 12 February indefinitely and have been operating digitally. Online learning has resumed after the Easter break.
Ben Keeling, principal of Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong, said: “Challenging times often bring a community together. The period of extended suspension in Hong Kong has been as invigorating as it has been exhausting – when the dust settles, we will emerge stronger and more united. Only the silver linings will remain.”
Keeling said he has been able to offer guidance and advice to a number of schools in Europe.
The period of extended suspension in Hong Kong has been as invigorating as it has been exhausting – when the dust settles, we will emerge stronger and more united
He said: “Centralised control of the attendance of students in Hong Kong has been countered by a relatively flexible approach towards employees. While many schools here have opted to close their doors for the duration, we have remained open to staff throughout.
“It was a critical decision, but the opportunity to connect regularly with colleagues has proven to be a powerful antidote to rising claustrophobia. Application of reasonably flexible working routines have been complemented by fixed periods of attendance designed to reconnect and reinvigorate staff teams as they work to perpetually innovate online.”
Keeling said schools should “prioritise intuitive access and secure control” with digital learning.
“The preparation of online learning materials is immensely time consuming. Teachers, students and parents (in the new role of direct consumer) will need immediate guidance (on both the platform and the new rules of engagement) and ongoing points of reference.”
He also encouraged patience: “Novelty fades fast (it lasted for about three days here) – pace yourself. Timeline the steady introduction of new initiatives. Not only will this allow you to periodically reinvigorate the experiences of students, but to support staff ahead of eventual delivery.”