We’d like to thank all parents who time out of their busy day to join our first Head of School Community Meeting zoom call this week or watched the shared recording. We are pleased that nearly 100 parents joined the meeting live and a similar number have watched the recording which is still available for parents on the Parent Portal.
Our team responded to as many of the questions that came up during the meeting as possible, and because of the large number in attendance, parents were invited to submit follow-up questions via the Parent Portal. Below is a round up of questions asked during and after the Community Meeting, together with our answers.
Do you want to remind people to sign up for the laptop/device insurance? And the cost?
Parents are given the opportunity to sign up for laptop/device insurance as part of our enrolment and re-enrolment process. We will add the details under the Secondary and Elementary School sections on the Parent Portal for convenience.
When will we have more details regarding the December School Holidays?
We will provide more details regarding the Winter Break immediately following Autumn Break. Please note:
- Autumn Break will run as scheduled the week of October 12-16.
- The first two weeks (December 19 – January 3) of Winter Break will not be adjusted. It is the third week that will be confirmed or moved following October Break.
Last week, an Elementary School student entered the School and parked his bicycle. As he was making his way to the classroom, someone stopped him and asked for his ID card. When he couldn’t produce it, he was told to go back outside the campus and walk around to the main gate and re-enter the campus from there, which he did. I know he’s not supposed to leave the campus without school and parent’s permission. Can you explain what happened on this occasion please?
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We will work with our security team to ensure this does not happen again in the future. Elementary School children do not need their ID to enter campus. Only Secondary School students are required to produce their ID and will be directed to the main gate if they do not have their ID on them.
Curriculum and Co-Curricular
I hope that students who want to take four IB Diploma (DP) Higher Level subjects are given the opportunity to do so.
Please contact the IB Diploma Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or your child’s School Counsellor to discuss your child’s IBDP course selections.
Will students be going on Trip Week this semester?
Trip Week for Grades 5 – 12 are currently postponed. We have marked this on the School calendar since the start of school.
Was there MAP testing during the first semester last year?
Last year, we did not have students take the MAP testing at the start of the school year. This is a change from last year and we will continue this new timeline moving forward both for baseline data and to include new students.
My child tells me that he struggles to play sports with a mask on. Although I fully understand the importance of wearing a mask throughout the school day, I’d like to know if the PE teachers are adapting the curriculum to accommodate the wearing of masks?
Our PE teachers are actively monitoring the students and the impact of wearing a mask during activities. Lessons are planned to take into account the wearing of masks. Please also encourage your child to speak directly to the teacher if they are experiencing difficulties.
When will parents be allowed on campus again? If it’s not possible to allow full access, would it be possible to allow limited access, at off-peak times, such as afternoons or weekends? It would make the logistics of swim practice, music lessons and ASA pick-up so much easier for parents of younger kids, especially those who don’t live in Ciputra.
Guidance from the Ministry of Health, Department of Education and Training in Hanoi and the Tay Ho authorities is ever evolving. At this time, we do not know when parents will be able to join us on campus. We do continually review the situation.
As all MRISA events have been cancelled this year, what are the plans for UNIS Hanoi to intermix with other schools in Hanoi? Can we join any other international school or Vietnamese school tournaments for sport or drama or art etc?
Through a collaborative decision making process with partner schools from APAC and MRISA the decision was made to suspend all activities requiring travel outside of Hanoi for the first semester. Meetings with our partner schools will reconvene in early 2021 to evaluate the situation and determine if this position will extend through the second semester.
We are in continuous communication with other schools in Hanoi, including all Hanoi Activities Conference (HAC) partners, to prepare to participate in tournaments, arts, and various cultural exchanges when it is deemed safe to do so. We are also exploring the possibilities of virtual options for various activities and events including virtual ASAs, virtual cross country events, virtual swimming events, and virtual MUN conferences.
Will the Head of School Community Meeting recording be available via the Parent Portal?
The recording of the presentation was made available via the Parent Portal on Tuesday afternoon. It will remain accessible via the home page until the evening of Tuesday September 22.
In the future, can you explain to us how we can have a dual communication approach in terms of hearing from the parents and addressing some other questions that might be out there? For example, ask for questions before the session and then do a FAQ during the meeting?
We have used many models in the past and will continue to explore different options for effective engagement and dialogue with our parents during the year. However, for this meeting, as we had a significant amount of information to present for the start of the school year and given the high numbers expected in attendance, a more general Q&A session was not practical. We hope that opening up the question submission option gave parents adequate opportunity at this stage. Formats will continue to be adjusted throughout the year.
What is the deadline for signing up onto the Goody Bag Discovery Trail?
The Goody Bag Discovery Trail (September 26-27) is our very first Community Connections event and seeks to bring new and returning families together to explore the great things on offer in fabulous Hanoi. To join the Discovery Trail, families are advised to sign up before September 24 in order to receive their eco-bag in time. However, there is no deadline for the programme which will run all year long and your eco-bag is your ‘passport’ to all the special offers available through the programme. You are also welcome to simply ‘join the trail’ without sign-up but you will not have access to the special offers
Are parents welcome to apply for the UNIS Impact Fund for a project related to the School?
Yes! The UNIS Impact Fund is directed by a cross-community committee with parent, student, faculty, staff, Board and alumni representation. All these stakeholder groups in our community can also apply for Project Grants. The Grants Committee reviews all those applications for decision making. The Grants Committee is a sub-group from the main Impact Fund Committee and has two SCO reps on that committee. To learn more about our process and the criteria for approval, please visit our Giving page on our website: https://www.unishanoi.org/giving/impact-fund
Are there any plans to postpone UN Day to next semester when parents may be allowed onto campus?
We have discussed the timing of our UN Day (November 13) and the possibility of postponing celebrations, but the overwhelming feedback from students and teachers was that they wanted to stay as closely connected as possible to the International UN Day (which occurs on October 24) and make the most of our current on-campus presence. The SDG Week (November 9-13) which precedes UN Day is also a key part of the School’s planning for students and ties to many of the current curriculum units. However, we are considering ongoing opportunities and we are certainly planning to find ways to involve all our community members in activities to celebrate that week.
Sustainability and food packaging: It would be good to have a discussion about how we manage the use of packaging given the current canteen set up. What is your plan for this? Also, has feedback been provided to the canteen service, and questioning the reasons for the food waste that happens in the classrooms when students aren’t eating the food delivered? This is not aligned to our core values of sustainability around food consumption.
Providing a boxed lunch service through our Canteen providers, Epicure, is a temporary measure which we created as a service for our families in these challenging logistical times. Families are welcome to opt into this service or students can also bring a boxed lunch from home if they prefer. And many choose to do a mix of both. We encourage students to study the menu before ordering to avoid food waste. The menu for the boxed lunches has been updated with feedback from students and parents. Currently we deliver more than 500 lunches daily and this number remains stable with high levels of satisfaction reported.
In addition, we planned the delivery service to be as environmentally friendly as possible and all the packaging is bio-degradable and made from recycled materials. We are currently investing all our energy in this area in resuming a canteen service under strict regulations. Sustainability is a School goal this year and we will be focusing on this later in the year once we have service resumed.
Canteen and Cafe operations: There is confusion in the community as to why Concordia and BIS have opened their canteen and cafe from the start of the school year, while UNIS Hanoi hasn’t. Also, I have heard that a number of other international schools in Hanoi are providing opportunities for their students to have access to a choice of meals, including hot meals, from the cafeteria or cafe. Can you explain why we’re operating differently?
UNIS Hanoi is subject to restrictions imposed by Hanoi and Tay Ho authorities (People’s Party, Health Authority, and Department of Education and Training). Our COVID plan was subject to an inspection and agreement with the local authorities and in line with government directives. We cannot comment on how other Schools are operating in different local authority areas.
Please detail further the canteen plans you have for improving the quality of food served. This is not just about returning to hot lunches, as even prior to COVID-19, the food quality and nutritional content was very questionable. Would it be possible for the school to look at an independent nutritionist to assess the service and provide advice? Given pre-ordering, has it been considered that students could have a weekly menu of options that is available each day so that they can choose? Has any feedback/dialogue been formally provided to parents and the canteen service regarding the service of the canteen?
A number of changes based on student and parent feedback were implemented in the canteen at the start of the 2019-2020 school year. At that time, a “Student Food Advisory Committee” was also formed and met regularly during the first semester. There are plans underway to reconvene this committee in the next couple of weeks. As we move towards reopening the canteen and moving back to regular canteen services, we will continue to work with our parent representatives on the SCO regarding our food services and also gather feedback from the wider community through our Annual Climate Survey. The boxed lunches were designed as a short term solution for those in our community who wanted continued lunch service. There are a number of suggestions embedded in these questions that will be taken under advisement and shared with our Canteen Services provider, Epicure.
Can Secondary School students be given access to microwaves to warm up food brought from home? Perhaps an Epicure staff member could operate the microwave to help ensure social distancing is practiced?
Microwaves are not in use at the moment because we would have to disinfect the microwave to meet COVID-19 sanitation standards between each use.
Bubbles and Masks
I am very clear on the process and purpose of the contact tracing system, and how it works. UNIS is working hard to mitigate risks, and can only be responsible for this on campus. However, I am not sure that the ‘bubbles’ you presented at the meeting will adequately hold up against the government guidelines if there is a COVID case (F0, F1) at UNIS. I support the social distancing approaches and mask use. But the current approach to keeping grade levels separated is not effectual – e.g. mixed grade classes (drama, language, maths), parents/teachers mixing across grades, siblings in different grades, cleaning staff travelling together to school and working across the school. Can you please explain the rationale for the ‘bubbles’ in a bit more detail, and a good way to do that might be to ‘map out’ a few ‘case scenarios examples’ for parents on what it might look like if there is a COVID case connected to UNIS. I assume you have already done this in our Business Continuity Plan so this might be a good process to share with the community.
The concept of bubbles is part of the government regulations. Our goal with bubbles is to limit the number of our community members that would be considered F1, F2 or F3 should there be a case in our community (parent or student). We are currently required to contact trace as an organization and report F0, F1 and F2 contacts. For example: If a parent with a student in G10 tests positive, the G10 student would be F1 (until tested); classmates, ASA peers, and bus peers would be F2; the remainder of our students would be F3 or F4. We would request that F3 and F4 students remain on campus (this has been granted in the past), rather than being required to close campus for all students.
Please see the detailed explanation from our Director of Operations and Finance, Misty Shipley in her article “Bubbles, Canteen, Masks and more…” in this week’s Tin Tuc (September 18).
According to WHO recommendations, “children aged up to five years should not wear masks for source control” (Advice on the use of masks for children in the community in the context of COVID-19 Annex to the Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19 21 August 2020 https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-IPC_Masks-Children-2020). With this in mind, why does UNIS, which has continuously put forward its compliance to WHO recommendations during this COVID-19 crisis, not followed the said recommendations on the use of masks for 5 years old children and younger?
We do appreciate measures which allow the UNIS campus to open in a situation when Covid-19 infections occur. Ensuring good hygiene and washing hands, measuring temperature and separating different grades (bubbles) are good examples of this. Wearing masks at entrance areas and “mixed zones” will support this bubble system. However, wearing masks within the homeroom for kindergarten children seems, in the current situation, too much and not right if we consider the strong impact on the children’s development such as hindering their social and language development because they can’t see faces. We hope that UNIS will further develop the current system to be more flexible. A system consisting of different levels with defined measures, could be easily applied if the situation might get more difficult again – and opened up again in a defined way if the situation allows. Of course we understand that UNIS has to comply with government regulations. However, we see that public and international schools in Hanoi do not require kindergarten children to wear masks or socially distance within their groups. Is this a special regulation which applies only to UNIS Hanoi? And if yes, what is the strategy to negotiate with the authorities about the loosening of these requirements for kindergarteners?
The early childhood setting is all about prevention. In the ECC we are continually trying to lay the foundations for the children to develop an internal locus of control. Locus of control is split into two parts, internal locus of control and external locus of control. External locus of control is the belief that situations and outcomes are a result of the environment and the environment only. Internal locus of control is the belief that situations and outcomes are the result of one’s personal skills and abilities. If a person has a high external locus of control they will contribute things that happen in their life as the effects of other environmental situations outside of their control. If a person has high internal locus of control they will credit a particular situation as an effect of something they did personally. A fundamental component to development in early years is establishing consistency. Consistency allows the children to understand fully what the boundaries are and what is expected of them. Realistic and achievable boundaries will allow the children to express themselves in the correct way and create a secure atmosphere whilst the child is in the setting. As the times are still unpredictable and there is no guarantee that there will not be another outbreak. It needs to be taken into consideration how developmentally appropriate it is to have consistent policies in place for our youngest learners, in order to prevent confusion, misunderstanding, and unnecessary frustration surrounding staying safe and healthy.
At UNIS we consider teachers and parents to be partners in the process of learning, as well as fostering and placing value in reciprocal exchanges between children and adults throughout the course of constructing knowledge. I would like to invite you to consider the notion that there is not clear scientific evidence to support the concept that children are not carriers of Covid-19. Below are a few articles on the subject. As a community, the health of our educators is extremely important and should also be considered when putting in place preventative policies.