Welcome to the Year of the Tiger!
Feb 18, 2022
Just over a month ago I wrote of ‘cautious hope of better things to come’. In a few short weeks, however, my cause for cautious hope has diminished significantly: the situation in Hong Kong has become more challenging and complex for all of us. An increasing daily case count, widespread mandatory testing, and a resumption of ‘working from home’ for most members of the workforce are not promising portents for the new year.
This is of course not a situation unique to Hong Kong. Looking beyond our shores, we find that we are not alone in our current fight. Many communities around the globe are wrestling with the dilemmas of prevention, containment, and treatment of COVID-19 in its growing array of variants. While many approaches have been adopted in different countries, no one seems to have found the perfect formula to eradicate or even manage the virus completely. As such, we must trust our leadership to be both wise and practical in formulating responses to a rapidly changing set of circumstances to protect public health in our community.
One big change that has already been foreshadowed in recent government announcements is the implementation of a ‘vaccine pass’ in all Hong Kong schools, starting on Thursday, 24 February 2022. Only fully vaccinated or medically exempt adults will be allowed entry to any schools premises from that date. This is a practical and reasonable measure aimed at protecting the most vulnerable members of our community: our children.
From 24 February, any member of the ISF community, including parents, teachers, employees (including helpers, drivers, etc.), volunteers, and visitors must present evidence of COVID-19 vaccination or official medical exemption before entering our school. All existing access cards will be disabled until official evidence is provided, via PowerSchool. Please note that at the time of writing, just 55% of registered and active access cards have submitted verification of vaccination. All adults will also be required to use the official ‘Leave Home Safe’ application on their mobile phone to register each visit. We ask all members of our community to support us by respecting this new regulation.
For the sake of clarity, we have confirmed with the Education Bureau that all entry foyers and driveways are included in the vaccine zone covered by this directive. The ‘bubble’ area extends to the property boundary on the street. Once face to face classes resume, unvaccinated or non-exempt adults who wish to drop-off or pick-up children must do so from outside the school.
As a precaution, we have temporarily moved all classes, including IB Diploma Programme courses, online until further notice. Similarly, teachers are being encouraged to work from home, where possible. Essential services will be maintained on-site, but if there are delays in responding to inquiries, or other frustrations, we ask for patience and understanding from community members at this time.
If you have not yet done so, I recommend that all members of the ISF community read the thoughtful and contemplative article written by Dr. Levi Gao in the last circular before the holiday break, in which he reflects on literary images of Spring Festival, drawing inspiration from 1,000 years of poetry. In beautifully concise and evocative language, Dr. Gao captures the spirit and hope that infuses this most important of Chinese festivals. Such reflections are indeed a tonic for the soul in tough times.
Dr. Malcolm Pritchard
Head of School