7 Aug 2020

Welcome back to a new school year!

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students

I hope that you have all had a safe and relaxing summer holiday and are feeling ready for a new academic year.

1) As you will be aware, given the current status of COVID 19 in Hong Kong, we will be starting the new school year with 100% online learning.  As per our calendar we will be re-commencing on Aug 12th with our Student Induction Programme. You will receive a more detailed outline for the programme from the Middle and Senior School teams in due course. This induction period will be especially important in ensuring students settle well back into their school routines and that new students in particular get to know their peers and their tutors.  Classes will resume as scheduled on August 17th.

2) As you know we solicited regular feedback from students last year as to their online learning experiences. The single biggest challenge for them was being constantly online and on camera, without sufficient independent time to get their work done. As we are now at 100% of students doing online learning we are taking the opportunity to adjust the daily schedule and the length of lessons. Direct contact with teachers will take place according to the timetable (periods 1-5) until approximately 1pm daily. Thereafter, until 3.20pm students will have independent and personalised study or one-to-one meetings with their teachers. In this way we hope that students will be able to better manage their workload and their screen time. We will take feedback on this approach after two-three weeks and adjust accordingly. We will also delay the start of the GTS programme for two weeks to allow students to get their subject lessons underway prior to the start of this course from Sept 1st. Once confirmed we will share the Online Learning – Daily Schedule with you.

3) We will also be sharing our updated Online Learning Protocols with you next week.  One issue from last year that was never satisfactorily resolved was students consistently having their cameras on during lessons. Now that we are starting a new school year online with new teachers and new students who do not already know each other, it will be impossible for us to get to know each other sufficiently well without the use of the camera. This will now become an expectation for online learning. Students can use alternative backgrounds on the technology platforms to maintain the privacy of their actual location and teachers can support them with setting this up if they don’t know how.

4) As we shared with you at the end of last academic year the new ESF App has been launched. We will be moving to using the app as our main communication tool in the next few weeks so we would like to encourage all parents/guardians to download the app if they have not already done so.

5) As part of enhancing communication with families I shared with you in the summer term that we intended to have Middle and Senior School “Back to School” events in the next few weeks.  We will now run these online so be sure to watch out for information about these in due course.

6) As you know from our communications over the summer we were once again delighted with our IB examination results. The annual ESF Chairman’s Award scheduled for next week has regrettably had to be cancelled however, so instead I will be sending a communication about our Chairman’s Award recipients to celebrate their success. Make sure to look out for this!

7) As some of you may already know, Ms Dionne Lashley, our Head of Middle School welcomed a beautiful baby daughter into the world in July and is currently on maternity leave until early December. Chris Rowlands will be taking over as the Acting Head of Middle School supported by Deputy HOY 8 Phil Jackson as Assistant Head of Middle School.  We also wish Mrs Kate Rogers, VP Teaching and Learning, the very best of luck as she goes on maternity leave in late August. She will be replaced by Paul Drew, our Head of Faculty for Science, as Acting Vice Principal until February 2021.

While we hope to be on campus and learning face-to-face in the not too distant future, for now we look forward to working together online to provide high quality teaching, care and support for every single student.  I know you will continue to support us in doing this, as you did last academic year.

To finish, I’d like to offer you all a very warm welcome back.  On behalf of the Sha Tin College community I’d also like to offer a particular welcome to our new families and new staff joining us in Hong Kong from around the world.

Kind regards.

Carol Larkin