Arrangements for 10 January – 9 February 2021

Dear all,

Following EDB announcements earlier this week and the message from ESF’s CEO, Belinda Greer, I am writing to update you on learning arrangements for Discovery College during the period 10 January – 9 February 2021.

The EDB has made clear that with continued concerns over the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong, full class resumption for schools is not able to take place until after Chinese New Year. However, the EDB has opened up the opportunity for some limited on-campus learning provision for some students in Primary and Secondary. The parameters of this opportunity are as follows:

  • Individual year groups in Primary and Secondary may attend, for no more than half a day at a time
  • For students in Secondary, AM and PM sessions for individual (separate) year groups can be provided; for students in Primary, only one (AM) session per day for an individual year group can be provided
  • The total number of students on campus at any one time should not exceed one sixth of the maximum student capacity

DC’s approach to utilising this limited provision is underpinned by the following principles, which stem from our identity and beliefs as a community:

  • The safety of our community members comes first; therefore we will maximise our use of the opportunity for on-campus learning while keeping everyone safe
  • Routines and regularity help our students learn well and make it easier for all the adults in our community to support our young people; therefore we will try and preserve normal routines and structures wherever we can
  • Face to face learning is a key driver of forming relationships, ensuring progress towards key assessment outcomes, and supporting young learners who are still developing their independence; therefore we will emphasise face-to-face time for year groups who possess particular needs in these regards

This message outlines:

  • Learning arrangements for Primary and Secondary during 11 January – 9 February 2021, in light of the above principles
  • A request to complete a new Health Declaration for your child prior to them attending any sessions on campus
  • Information on 8-9 February 2021

Primary Learning Arrangements

Each Primary year group will have the opportunity to attend on campus for a period of either 3 or 4 consecutive half-days. The schedule will be as follows:

On the days indicated, students will be expected to arrive on campus by 8.19am. They will depart at 12.30pm.

Primary FAQs

My child usually uses the school bus service. Will buses be running?

Yes. Buses will drop Primary students off at DC ahead of the usual start time each morning, and will depart from DC at 12.45pm. We are discussing with the bus company the best way to formulate bus routes during this period in which smaller numbers of students will be utilising the service each day. Further announcements about the bus service will be made by the bus company directly.

Will the Primary Three-Way Conference be happening as planned?

Yes – but in order to have better continuity of learning the date has changed to Thursday 4 February 2021. This event will be held exclusively online as has happened so far during the Covid-19 situation, meaning no Primary students will attend campus on this day. Detailed information about this event / how to book etc. will be shared via the Explorer on Friday 15 January 2021.

The ESF App Message earlier this week mentioned PM sessions. Why is it that Primary students are only scheduled to attend AM sessions?

The ESF App Message was sent prior to schools receiving a letter from the EDB, issued to DC late on Monday evening, which states:

“Primary schools can arrange students of any individual level… to return to schools in the morning to attend half-day face-to-face classes or take examinations.”

This additional information was not part of the EDB’s earlier announcement. The letter clarifies that schools can only bring Primary students onto campus for AM sessions, one yeargroup at a time. This provision is different for Secondary.

Will Chinese / Specialist lessons be happening during each yeargroup’s face-to-face period?

Yes. Chinese lessons and other Specialist lessons (Art, Drama, Music or PE) will occur during the face-to-face period for each yeargroup. Which specialisms occur will depend on what is timetabled for the period in question.

On days where my child is attending face-to-face for the AM session, what will happen during the afternoon once my child gets home from school?

On each afternoon your child will be invited to attend a final check-out session for the day at 2:30pm, as per the current online provision.

We realise that some parents may wish for their child to finish their engagement with formal learning activities once they get home from the AM session. While we would love to see your child for this online afternoon session, each family is able to make its own decisions according to the needs of your child.

Will my child still be able to bring their snack to school?

Yes. Morning snack and break time will still occur during the morning session. Students may have a small amount of snack food with them that can be eaten by hand, but must not bring a meal.

Will the face-to-face provision for one yeargroup affect the online learning that is happening for all the other yeargroups?

No. We will be maintaining our regular online provision for all yeargroups not attending face-to-face. You may see some tweaks to scheduling and timing for some learning elements to help us manage the logistics, but these will be clearly communicated in learning grids ahead of time.

If my child does not return to DC during the period allocated for his / her year group, above, will he / she be provided with online learning?

Your child is welcome to make use of DC’s extensive collection of online resources – please refer to the links at the top of your child’s learning grids. However, formal online learning will not be provided for the AM session while your child’s yeargroup is attending in person. The reason for this is that teachers cannot be fully effective in supporting your child’s learning if we ask them to plan and implement two entirely different forms of learning at the same time. During the allocated on-campus days for your child, during the AM session your child’s teacher will be concentrating on the face-to-face learning that is happening. Your child is welcome to join the afternoon online check-out as described above.

Secondary Learning Arrangements

For students in Secondary, AM and PM sessions will occur on campus for Years 12 and 13 only. For Years 7-11, online learning will continue until 9 February using the existing three-block timetable.

For Years 12 and 13, attendance arrangements for all days between 11 January – 9 February will be as follows:

  • Year 12 will attend the AM session; they will be expected to arrive by the usual school start time (no later than 8.19am), and will depart school at 12.10pm.
  • Year 13 will attend the PM session; they will be expected to arrive by 12.05pm, and will depart at 3.25pm.

For both the AM and PM session, students will attend two blocks while on campus. The third block will be delivered online, before or after their campus attendance. Students will have at least 1.5 hours to commute to/from campus and eat their lunch, which will need to be provided from home as there will continue to be no onsite catering. These provisions will require slightly altered lesson timings for students in Years 12 and 13; students will be emailed the details of these timings ahead of their first date of attendance.

Secondary FAQs

Why are students in Years 12-13 being prioritised for face-to-face learning?

As per our principles, above, we recognise that face-to-face learning is particularly important in relation to specific issues such as assessment preparation. Our students in Years 12 and 13 are working towards formal, externally-prescribed assessments and examinations as part of their IBDP/CP studies, and the opportunity to do so using the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with teachers and access to on-campus facilities is especially important to them. This means they (as with our Primary students, albeit for different reasons) have specific needs that require us to prioritise the opportunity to bring them onto campus for the forthcoming period.

Will online learning for Years 7-11 be impacted by the work teachers will be doing to facilitate on-campus learning for Years 12 and 13?

No. Because we are maintaining our existing three-block timetable, and face-to-face learning for Years 12-13 is happening as part of this, online lessons will continue as normal alongside the face-to-face provision that is happening on campus. Teachers who are working from campus will connect online with Years 7-11 classes in the usual way.

Will Year 13 mock examinations be taking place as planned?

Mock examinations will go ahead as per the intended start date of 25 January 2021. They will run until Wednesday 3 February 2021. This extended period is necessary because under EDB requirements examinations will need to take place during half days only, meaning that we will need more than one week to deliver the full exam schedule. All Year 13 mock examinations will take place during the PM sessions, as indicated in the schedule above.

Will my child still be able to bring their snack to school?

Yes, they can bring a snack that can be eaten by hand, but must not bring a meal. Students will be able to eat their snack during transitions between lessons. Students are reminded to bring water bottles with them.

Can Year 12-13 students attending face-to-face learning on campus depart early, or arrive late, if they have a non-contact study block?

No. Students are expected to be present on campus for the full duration of their assigned session, as per the timings above. They are encouraged to use the various facilities that are available to support students with independent study, such as the library and the SSC.

Health Declaration

As a significant period of time has elapsed since a health declaration was last completed for all students, we – as with all ESF schools – are asking that a new declaration be made for all students ahead of their next attendance on campus. This process is completed via the ESF App – parents are requested to visit the app, click the ‘Ding! VLE’ button next to their child’s name, and then complete the ‘Covid-19 Health Declaration (January 2021)’. Please visit the app from tomorrow (Thursday 7 January 2021) to complete this process, as the declaration software will be reset overnight tonight.

Students in the following yeargroups:

Year 1
Year 2
Year 12
Year 13

will be attending campus next week, so are requested please to complete the health declaration tomorrow (Thursday 7 January 2021) by no later than 8pm. A newly-completed health declaration is a prerequisite for being admitted to campus; students without a declaration will not be able to pass through the gate.

For all other Primary yeargroups, please complete the declaration by 12pm on Saturday 9 January 2021.

For students in Years 7-11, a declaration will need to be completed prior to the next date of attendance, which is planned for after the Chinese New Year holiday pending further government decisions. We will send further reminders and information regarding these yeargroups, and the health declaration, nearer this time.

Parents are also reminded that on days when your child will be attending the DC campus, it is a government requirement that your child’s temperature be taken and recorded at home prior to departure for school. This temperature reading should be recorded in the ESF App by 7.40am each morning.

Naturally we are grateful for the help of the whole community in enacting these government-required health measures, which are a vital part of us being able to support face-to-face learning on campus.

Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 February to be regular learning days

Given the impact of the Covid-19 situation on face-to-face learning time, and the continuing commitment of DC and the ESF to maximise opportunities for face-to-face learning wherever possible, the days that DC had identified in the calendar for staff continuing professional development (CPD) will be converted into regular learning days. Timetabled learning provision, either online or face-to-face as per the above details, will be provided for all students on these days. The first day of the Chinese New Year holiday for DC will therefore be Wednesday 10 February 2021.

Thank you for bearing with such a long message. As with any period during the Covid-19 situation where we have had arrangements to make for students to return to campus, there is a lot of complexity that sits behind such arrangements and I am grateful for your attention to all the various matters identified. We look forward to facilitating student learning over the next few weeks as described above, and ultimately to the point at which we can all return to the DC campus once again.

Best wishes,

James Smith