Planning for the Future in a COVID World
Nov 12, 2021
It is now two years since the first cases of a new illness that we now know as COVID-19 came to the attention of medical authorities in Wuhan. Over the past 24 months, our lives have been transformed by COVID-19 in many ways, both profound and perfunctory. Without much thought, we now wear masks almost everywhere outside our homes; for many this has been a small step, for others it has been a more difficult journey; for some, masks have even become a fashion item, offering a way of displaying individual taste. We have even begun to forget what our friends and colleagues look like without their masks.
Globally, however, the ‘mask-age’ reveals some deeper, life-changing phenomena. In particular, our travel habits have been profoundly affected. The increasingly frenetic movement of humanity around the globe in recent years, often at a moment’s notice, whether for employment or entertainment, paused, then ground to an almost complete halt – an unthinkable scenario save for the dystopian narratives of popular science fiction. Frustratingly, fretfully for some, we are now physically bound ‘in place’, with only our virtual selves free to roam the zoom-world at will. Any journey that crosses a border is now a matter of consequence, undertaken with careful planning, limited by access to infrequent and unimaginably expensive transport, and bookended with extended quarantines and testing, both inbound and outbound. We are reliving a time in the distant historical past when pandemic plagues froze movement, stopped trade, and isolated communities.
One important thing we have learned, or perhaps relearned, is the need to plan carefully for the future, always mindful of sudden, unpredictable changes. Our academic calendar for the coming year is a case in point.
When planning for the 2022-23 Academic Year, we have had to consider a great many factors, some of which are difficult to reconcile. On the one hand, we need to plan an academic calendar that is compliant with the Hong Kong Education Bureau’s requirements for a Private Independent School. Public holidays and modes of teaching are subject to government regulation. With the isolation felt by all ISF families over the past two years in mind, we are also extremely conscious of the need to assist members of our community to plan for family reunions in other parts of the world during holiday breaks. We are still uncertain of future quarantine arrangements for fully vaccinated residents of Hong Kong at this time. There is also the on-going uncertainty about outbound quarantine arrangements in other jurisdictions, such as mainland China.
With these factors in mind, we are planning for a slightly amended approach to our academic year during 2022-23 as follows:
- The 2022-23 Academic Year will commence on Tuesday, 23 August 2022 for returning Academy students – this is one week later than our normal practice (allowing for a longer Summer Vacation in 2022);
- Orientation for new Academy students will take place on Monday, 22 August 2022;
- The October mid-term break will be reduced to a long weekend of four days, from Saturday, 1 October to Tuesday, 4 October; and
- All other vacation breaks remain unchanged in terms of duration.
Due to the timing of government gazetted holidays in early 2023, parents are asked to note that the gap between the Winter vacation in late 2022 (Christmas/New Year) and the Spring Vacation in 2023 (Chinese New Year) is just 9 days.
For the current academic year, there are no changes planned. The summer extension program in June 2022 will go ahead, subject to the availability of faculty to offer programs to those students remaining in Hong Kong over the summer.
In summary, the key dates proposed for the 2022-23 Academic Year are as follows:
- Commencement: Tuesday, 23 August 2022
- Mid-term weekend: Saturday, 1 October – Tuesday, 4 October 2022 (inclusive)
- Winter Vacation (Christmas/New Year): Monday, 19 December 2022 – Monday, 2 January 2023 (inclusive)
- Spring Vacation (Chinese New Year): Monday, 16 – Friday, 27 January 2023 (inclusive)
- Spring (Easter): Monday, 3 – Monday, 10 April 2023 (inclusive)
- End of formal academic calendar: Friday, 16 June 2023
- Summer Extension: Monday, 19 June – Friday, 30 June 2023
I trust that families will take advantage of this early advice to make plans accordingly. There are of course important factors, such as border closures, quarantine restrictions, entry quotas, and even school closures, that remain outside our ability to determine or influence. We will keep all members of the community informed of any changes that affect the normal operations of our school.
Dr. Malcolm Pritchard
Head of School