To our UNIS Hanoi Parents: Distance Learning Veterans, and Exemplars to Parents Internationally

Dear Parents,

It’s been eight weeks. So, how are you doing?

Burnt out? Yes, some of us are.

Tired? Certainly.

Stressed out? Uh, that’s going to be a “yes” again.

As you have heard, it’s time for a well-earned, week-long break from distance learning.


Parenting doesn’t stop, and while school may pause for a week, our parenting continues. For working parents, for single parents, for all parents – next week isn’t a holiday. It is a continuation of a stressful, difficult and unprecedented time in our lives.

It is hard to contemplate how many of us, within our diverse community, are increasingly worried and anxious for our loved ones throughout the world. Worried for our children. Worried for ourselves. We will each have our stories to tell when these days are done, and we can hope that they are stories of resilience, strength and success in the face of the impact of this historical event.

As UNIS Hanoi parents, we can already make claim to the title of “Distance Learning Veteran”. If that sounds impressive, that’s because it is.

After eight weeks, we may even be ready to feel proud of how far we have come as parents and as a community.

Our students came back from their Tet breaks without a school to physically attend. Their levels of resilience, humor, acceptance and flexibility were an example to us all.

Our teachers adroitly pivoted within 24 hours of returning to work to commence our distance learning programme. As campus closures become more commonplace around the world, we are able to see in hindsight how professional that turnaround was.

But it is our parents – you all – it is what you have done to hold your families together during this time;

The cooking, cleaning, uploading to Seesaw, cancelling vacations, arranging Zoom calls, consoling, cajoling, planning, replanning, sharing computers, wiping away tears, washing hands, keeping informed, connecting with loved ones… and through it all staying hopeful and positive for your children and families.

To that we humbly say:

Good work teachers – terrific effort kids – and congratulations and commendations to our amazing UNIS Hanoi parents.

And we know you will find the strength and courage to keep doing all this and more after the April break.

If we could send you all flowers, wine, chocolate – or maybe just gift you five minutes to yourselves – we would.

As it is, we send our heartfelt respect.

Dylan Meikle & Kris Bezzerides


Elementary Counsellors: Letter to UNIS Families – Beating Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever is a term that describes the feeling of being cooped up at home, confined to an inside existence, and one that is a “catch all for the boredom and restlessness brought about by being inside for too long”*.

Whether in Hanoi or abroad, many of us are under self-quarantine. It is important to be aware of cabin fever syndrome – rooted in the feeling of confinement and isolation for an uncertain period of time. Some symptoms may include feeling irritable and restless, feeling low and lethargic, lack of patience, low stress tolerance, increased anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and decreased motivation.

Here are some strategies to help you cope with cabin fever, shared via the Western Academy of Beijing (a school that is also undergoing a period of distance learning):

  • Exercise and take a short walk outside the house whenever possible (following guidelines to help prevent exposure to the virus). Access to daylight regulates our body’s natural cycle and releases endorphins. Daily exercise is also a proven treatment for stress and low mood.
  • Keep up normal daily routine and maintain healthy eating patterns as much as possible. Routines and familiarity in times of uncertainty provide a sense of safety.
  • Avoid relying heavily on screen and tech as mindless distraction to pass time. Stimulating our minds (board games, craft, drawing, reading, crossword puzzles) helps us feel productive and reduces feelings of isolation and helplessness.
  • Maintain a positive attitude and think about how we’ve all coped with difficult situations in the past. We will overcome this too.
  • Make sure everyone gets alone time as family spends a long time together in confined spaces. It is healthy to plan and designate ‘time out’ from one another. Accept that conflict and arguments may occur between siblings, parent-children, and amongst adults.
  • Maximize the opportunities of having time inside together by taking on achievable projects such as spring cleaning, with the view to donate excess toys (etc) to a local organization. 

 Warmest regards,

The UNIS ES Counseling Team

Kris Bezzerides (Discovery – Grade 2,

Dylan Meikle (Grades 3-5,


*Being Trapped Indoors Is the Worst: The Atlantic

Beating Cabin Fever: Psychology Today