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How are other Int’l schools doing?


Amidst a cascade of mandatory school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of schools worldwide are transitioning to virtual learning programs. Working to limit the disruption of education, private and public schools around the globe have implemented varying policies concerning the scheduling of classes, testing, and academic integrity. To better understand what school life is like for other international students in this unprecedented time, the Tiger Times interviewed students attending schools in six different countries. 

Sumin Jeon (11), Concordia International School in Shanghai

“While some students may enjoy the luxury of being able to stay home in their pajamas all day, I do not prefer having classes online. Although we’re assigned the same amount of work, it is far less interesting as the assignments encourage passive learning: we can’t conduct labs for our Science classes, nor have discussions for our English and social studies classes. The fact that all of our classes are asynchronous further limits our ability to have close interactions with our teachers and classmates. I just hope that our workload for non-AP classes decreases in the weeks to come so we can better focus on our AP Exams, especially given that one question determines our entire score, and that we’ll be taking them in the middle of the night.” 

Jasmine Liao (12), Phillips Exeter Academy

“Although teachers ultimately decide whether they want to meet synchronously during their block, our school has placed a heavy emphasis on asynchronous learning due to the number of international students and students with other home circumstances. While students at other schools may be concerned about maintaining academic integrity, our school uses a Pass/Fail system so I doubt cheating will happen. While I’m satisfied with the way our school has handled virtual learning, school simply isn’t the same. In particular, every class at Exeter revolves around discussion based learning and it is virtually impossible to replicate that online, especially since most of our classes are asynchronous. Since it is my last semester of high school, I want nothing more than face-to-face quality time with my classmates.” 

Janice Cho (11), Northfield Mount Hermon School 

“Since I go to a boarding school that is based in the US but has a lot of international students, attending scheduled calls is ‘optional’. Students are just expected to “sign in” into their classes within 12 hours after the live session class. Since I am back in Korea and in a very different timezone, most of my classes start in the evening. Although it is inconvenient and has forced me to invert my sleeping schedule, I still attend live sessions as I wouldn’t be able to ask questions otherwise. Perhaps more inconvenient is conducting leadership position interviews for the clubs I am involved in: I have had to wake up at 3 and 4 am for the past week to talk to interviewees and advisors that are still in the US. I hopefully will be able to get proper, continuous sleep in the weeks to come.” 

Toranosuke Naito (12), Fukuoka International School in Japan

“Having switched over to online classes in early March, our school adjusted our schedules to have less screen-time. Although I miss spending time in person with friends, I am happy to have a more flexible schedule with shorter classes, especially as a senior. Most of our assessments have also been replaced with projects—mainly because we no longer have IB exams in May—which further helps alleviate stress. However, the measures the school has taken to prevent cheating in classes that must test regularly are very strict. We are monitored by teachers as we write our answers on a single piece of paper. Both of our hands, our face, the piece of paper, and the writing utensil we are using must be visible at all times. We submit our answers by scanning our papers and emailing them to our instructors. Going forward, more trust between students and teachers is definitely needed….”

Sean Chang (11), Singapore American School 

“Despite only having switched over to online classes three weeks ago, our school has made several significant changes. All classes have been shortened to one hour, and a guidebook for virtual classes with specific rules about the dress code and decorum was sent out to parents. Due to the constant changes to the content and format of AP tests, we haven’t had many assessments. However, we have been required to submit screen recordings for every test and project we have had so far. I’m more concerned about keeping myself focused and motivated for the rest of the year. With a lot of our teachers ending the class after assigning work, we have a new level of independence we have never had before. Other lecture-based classes are hard to stay concentrated in, especially given how distracting the electronic devices we have our classes on are.” 

June Lee (12), American School of Dubai

“I personally like online learning because our school has a different system that doesn’t require us to be present in live time. Free video calling services such as Skype and Zoom are blocked in Dubai, so none of our classes involve actual scheduled conference calls. As a result, we have far more homework to turn in, but are provided with various different ways to complete all assignments. We are also provided with enough time to complete tasks: our teachers are incredibly lenient and understanding in terms of timing issues as a great number of students have left Dubai and are in different time zones. Although we have had a few open books tests, our school hasn’t fully sorted out the grading process yet. As a senior, I’m mainly concerned about how the school plans on grading us as I want to make sure my grades do not drop before they are sent to my university. I know that most of the junior class is also worried about their grades this semester as our school only takes final grades into account. We hopefully will be provided with more details soon.” 

Felicia Yeh (11), Taipei American School

“Like most of my friends, I prefer having classes in school. It is not only easier to ask teachers questions during lunch or a free period but also to ensure classes run smoothly: sometimes the quality of our internet or the platform we are using is not guaranteed, disrupting our classes to the point where it is unbearable. I just hope our school can allocate its funding to purchase more alcohol swabs, alcohol wipes, masks, and other resources for the school so that teachers and administrators who still have to visit campus are safe.” 

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