Let me begin by expressing some words of gratitude to you all. Your understanding, assistance, cooperation, and feedback have been paramount in helping us navigate this uncharted terrain as a school. There are moments in life when the things we value most are tested. While the COVID-19 crisis has put many things to the test on a global scale, as a community we face these challenges together. I feel fortunate to be a member of this community, and pledge to continue to put the safety and wellbeing of our students and community members above all else.
I would also like to thank all the students and parents who responded to the Distance Learning Follow-Up Survey from last week’s KAIS News. If you didn’t get a chance to fill out the form, you can still give us your anonymous feedback here. We will continue to seek ways to optimize the student learning experience while classes temporarily take place in your homes, and greatly value your input in this process.
We have been following the situation closely for over a month now, collecting information from the government, international organizations, and local international schools in order to make careful and considered decisions regarding the direction of our school. As it stands, the situation is getting worse, with the gap between confirmed COVID-19 cases and the recovered rising dramatically. International schools around Tokyo continue to push their reopening dates further into the year, some even closing their doors until the end of the school year. Several municipal wards have recently extended school closures until Golden Week, including Meguro-ku and Shinagawa-ku where both KAIS campuses are located.
In order to protect the safety of our community as much as possible, we have decided to postpone our school’s reopening until Monday, May 11th, extending the Distance Learning Program throughout the month of April. If the situation allows, we will reopen our doors on May 7th, during our school’s scheduled Golden Week break, to help reintegrate our students into regular school life as early as possible. If this is the case, we will inform the KAIS Community by Friday, May 1st. We deeply regret the continued burden being placed upon your shoulders at home, but please understand that this decision was made with the entire community’s safety in mind. Some of our major considerations were:
Several students must commute daily on crowded trains, risking their health, the health of their loved ones, and all other individuals with whom they come in contact. With so many people spreading the virus asymptomatically, opening the school up again does not seem wise.
Should a student contract COVID-19, we would be forced to close our doors for a 14-day period, adding further tension to this already difficult situation. Following our re-opening, if yet another student were to test positive for the coronavirus, we would have to (once again) take strong action against this by closing down, adding further instability to an already stressful situation. This is a realistic scenario that we would prefer to avoid.
Several students live with or near elderly relatives or relatives with health complications. Our responsibility extends beyond our immediate school community to these individuals who have a higher risk of major health implications should they contract COVID-19.
To address the spread of the virus, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) recommends that schools (1) ensure thorough ventilation in all spaces, (2) maintain physical distancing, and (3) minimize short-range conversations and loud voices. Sadly, there would be no way to consistently maintain safe distancing between students and staff within the school.
There will be several improvements made to the DLP moving forward. We will notify you of these changes in an email on Monday, and will continue to look for ways to improve upon the program in the month of April. While this situation has tested us in various ways, there are many opportunities embedded within its framework. We are being called to learn new skills, build resilience, and find new, creative ways of staying connected with friends and loved ones. There is physical distance between us all at the moment, but it can be helpful to remember that we are all going through this together. I am optimistic that one of the results of this shared experience is that it will have brought us all closer together in the end.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions, comments, or suggestions. We strongly appreciate your patience and understanding, and wish for your continued health and safety.
All the best,