COVID-19 Community Support
Limited campus access for parents and visitors. We ask parents to refrain from coming on campus except for very brief visits to the school store, library or school office. Any other visits should be arranged by appointment. Visitors from outside the school community should phone the Main Reception Desk at 045-622-0084 to make an appointment. Admissions tours will be conducted virtually. Please contact the Admissions Office for related matters.
Please see below for information regarding the three learning models - on-campus, blended and off-campus - that may be flexibly deployed over the school year as the public health situation requires, along with health and safety procedures and resources, details on risk assessment and approach to temporary campus closures, and responses to some frequently asked questions. For health-related questions and notifications, please contact our school nurse, Michiko Bowering, in the Health Office by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (045-621-4027).
Flexible Learning Models for 2020-21
Depending on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated health risks over the course of the school year, we will employ the following models:
The campus is open, albeit with enhanced hygiene measures and modifications to some activities and events. The focus of teaching and learning is in the classroom. Regular assessment methods are used wherever possible. Although optimized for in-classroom learning, access to learning may also be provided remotely for those unable to be on campus in exceptional circumstances, such as new students whose entry into Japan is delayed or those with high-risk health conditions.
The campus is open, however, due to elevated health risks and the need for greater social distancing, the number of students on campus is limited through a staggered schedule of attendance. Learning is conducted face to face in the classroom and online at home. Assessment methods are modified accordingly. Over the period of blended learning, students spend roughly half the days on campus and half learning at home. Activities and events may be modified, postponed or suspended.
The campus is closed to some or all students. We will use off-campus learning whenever we believe, having taken advice from public health authorities and based on our own judgment, that a grade, section or full campus closure is needed to control or prevent the spread of infection. During off-campus learning teaching and learning is conducted online. Assessment methods are modified accordingly. Depending on the wider public health situation, school activities and events may be modified, postponed or cancelled. (In the case of full campus closure, all activities and events are postponed or cancelled.)
In response to identified cases/risks of infection or other factors, some grades or classes may switch to off-campus or blended learning for a period of time while other grades/classes continue with on-campus learning.
Our hope is that as many students as possible will be able to attend school on campus when it is fully open or on the designated days for blended learning. But we recognize that some families may have health factors that need to be considered in making a decision on whether attending school in person is appropriate for their situation. There may also be some families who, because of travel restrictions, have not yet been able to enter or return to Japan. We will do our best to accommodate students in these circumstances and it is expected that the students will access the learning through the appropriate online platform and complete work that has been set. Likewise, on off-campus learning days and blended learning days that students are not on campus, all students are expected to be engaged in their learning and complete their work online.
Parents are asked to make an informed decision about whether their child will attend school on campus and how they will commute to school. When students are working from home, we ask that you support your child with the provision of a suitable working space and help the teachers in monitoring students’ application to their work and the completion of assignments. We will provide information and resources to help you in supporting your children’s learning.
Health & Safety Precautions
Recognizing the need for continuing care and vigilance to safeguard our community and prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, we have adopted a range of measures to strengthen hygiene practices, ensure physical distancing and reduce density as appropriate. These include general health & safety measures that will be employed throughout the year whenever the campus is open and enhanced precautions to be put in place to address the increased risk level when appropriate. Health & safety measures are continually reviewed during the school year and revised as the situation warrants.
By far the most important precaution, and one which requires the cooperation of everyone in the YIS community, is to stay home if you are not feeling well. This is especially important if you are experiencing a fever and/or flu-like symptoms. If your temperature is 37.5º or higher you must stay home and not return to school for at least 24 hours after your temperature returns to normal without fever-reducing medication. Additionally, it is imperative that any confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 infection among students, staff or their household members be reported to the YIS Health Office at the earliest instance. See also: Procedures in the Event a YIS Community Member Contracts COVID-19 above.
|General Health & Safety Measures||Additional Precautions|
Daily Temperature/Symptom Checks at Home and School
Students and staff should check their temperature and make sure they are symptom-free each morning at home before coming to school. Upon arrival to the classroom students will have their temperature checked and asked about flu-like symptoms once again at the start of the day by their tutor/homeroom teacher. Any student identified with a temperature of 37.5º or higher or complaining of other flu-like symptoms will be sent to the Health Office where their health condition will be checked once again. If it is confirmed that the student has a fever or is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms, they will stay in an isolation room. Parents will be notified and the student will be asked to return home as soon as possible.
Hand Sanitizer and Frequent Hand Washing
Hand sanitizer is available at all campus entry points, and everyone should use this upon entering the campus and/or campus buildings. Hand sanitizer is also placed in all classrooms and public spaces, such as the library and cafeteria. Frequent hand washing using soap and water is one of the most important measures for preventing the spread of infection. Students are expected (and will be reminded) to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after every break and lunchtime, as well as any times when they may be handling common materials.
Wearing of Face Masks
All students, staff and visitors are required to wear a mask properly (fully covering mouth and nose) while on campus and when commuting to and from school. Those wearing disposable masks are asked to bring an additional mask with them as masks should be changed halfway through the day. A limited number of extra masks will be kept at school if you forget your mask or a replacement is needed. Cloth masks should be properly washed on a regular basis.
Everyone is expected to practice proper coughing/sneezing etiquette at all times: cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; throw used tissues in the trash; if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
Cleaning and disinfection routines have been increased to include more frequent and thorough high-touch surface cleaning with appropriate disinfectant cleansers.
Windows and doors are to be kept open in all rooms to provide cross-ventilation. Air conditioning/heating is also used to help regulate room temperature and humidity and assist with airflow. Students are advised to bring warm clothing during the colder months, as rooms, hallways and other spaces can get quite chilly.
We have worked closely with Dragon Dining to enhance hygiene measures and safety precautions. Meals are individually plated or packaged to provide a “grab and go” style lunch service with salad and vegetable options still available for students to have with their main meal. Lunchtimes have been further staggered and the meal pick-up flow and timing revised to avoid overcrowding. Plexiglass barriers have been installed to demarcate individual seating at the tables. The checkout system has been revised to utilize contactless cards instead of fingerprint sensors. Student are required to refrain from talking while eating. See the Dragon Dining page for details
Parents and Visitors on Campus
When the need arises to limit the number of people on campus at any one time, parents may be asked to limit their visits to brief errands (e.g., school store, library, main/business office) or refrain from coming on campus altogether. Visitor access will likewise be restricted and admissions tours limited to one family at a time. We recognize that the younger students may require assistance so it is understood that parents of these students may need to accompany their child to school. Once the child is settled we ask for parents to leave the campus. Similarly, some of the younger students may require picking up after school has finished. Again we request that parents vacate the campus as soon as their child has finished the school day. Parents wishing to speak with teachers, faculty or office staff should arrange to speak via telephone or video call if possible, although exceptions may be made on a case by case basis. In any event, whenever parents are on campus they should wear face masks at all times, use hand sanitizer when entering the campus and abide by all other health and safety protocols.
Before and After School
To limit the possibilities of close social interactions students should arrive at school no earlier than 20 minutes before the official start of the day and go straight to their homeroom or tutor room upon arrival. After school, students should leave the campus and return home as soon as the school day is completed. They may not remain on the playground or congregate at the school entrances at dismissal or any other time outside of school hours.
Cohorting is used to help minimize mixing across the school environment. Depending on the risks identified cohorting may be used in a variety of ways during lunchtimes, to keep grades together, or across the school to reduce movement between classrooms.
Activities and Events
To reduce exposure across the school environment and grade levels, after school activities may be modified or suspended. Likewise, on-campus events for students and/or parents after school hours may be modified, suspended or postponed, and events/assemblies during school hours will be limited in number of participants and duration. Wherever possible, events that are unable to be held on campus will be offered online.
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for guidance on what to do if you suspect you may be infected with the COVID-19 virus.
If a student, member of staff or person living in the same household with them is confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, it is essential that Mrs. Bowering in the YIS Health Office be informed at the earliest opportunity (email@example.com or 045-621-4027). We will consult with local public health authorities to determine the appropriate course of action for the school, including any contact tracing obligations, testing guidance, quarantine measures or temporary closure of the campus or specific school sections. Although we are obliged to utilize information about infected YIS community members to consult with public health authorities and determine appropriate countermeasures to protect the health of the school community, please be assured that any identifiable personal health information that you share with us will be treated in strict confidence.
*The criteria to end home isolation are:
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared or no symptoms have appeared since testing positive for COVID-19 and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 (if any) are improving*
*Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation. These recommendations do not apply to persons with severe COVID-19 or with severely weakened immune systems (immunocompromised) who should follow their doctor’s advice. (CDC)
A family member receives a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 on the 1st. The student who lives in the house also tests positive or has symptoms.
On the 11th, after 10 days isolating, the family meets the criteria to end home isolation.
They can return to school from the 12th.
A family member receives a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 on the 1st. The student who lives in the house has not tested positive and has no symptoms.
On the 11th, after 10 days isolating, the family member meets the criteria to end home isolation. No other family members have become unwell.
The student will then begin a 14 day quarantine from the 12th.
They don’t experience any symptoms or become unwell so their quarantine ends on the 25th.
They can return to school from the 26th.
No Place for Stigma
It is natural to be concerned about the risk of contracting COVID-19, but it is important that we do not let fear and anxiety lead to social stigma or discrimination. No particular individual or group of people are more likely than others to spread the virus. This includes those who have recovered from COVID-19 or been released from home isolation or quarantine. In line with our core values, we are supportive of each other, and any discrimination or harassment of individuals or groups of people will not be tolerated.
Risk Assessment and Learning Model Decisions
The decision of which model or combination of models is to be employed at any particular time during the school year is based primarily on the assessed level of public health risk. We make this assessment based on the directives and guidance of Japanese public health and educational authorities, analysis of infection rates and other relevant trends in Kanagawa and Tokyo, guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), consultation with other international schools in Japan, and other factors.
Although we follow the guidance of local health authorities at a minimum, we may go beyond those minimum recommendations when we feel additional measures are warranted to protect the health and well-being of our community. Given the size and diversity of the YIS community -- including working parents who may struggle to support remote learning and staff or students with underlying medical conditions that may place them at higher risk of serious illness -- we recognize that any decision we make regarding on-campus, blended or off-campus learning may be fraught with differences of opinion.
Evolving Understanding of COVID-19 and Implications for Schools
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic there were a number of government-enacted prolonged closures to schools globally. Evidence since then suggests that many children underwent additional hardships and psychological stresses as a result of school closures whilst the effect on the spread of COVID-19 was of limited benefit. Schools have not been identified as a prominent risk feature of the pandemic, nor is there evidence to suggest children are a primary source of transmission (e.g. ECDC, CDC), particularly when appropriate precautions are in place. This has resulted in several changes to the way that governments and schools respond to COVID cases in their countries and communities.
As knowledge of the pandemic has evolved, schools have realized that in order to balance optimal learning with public health concerns it may be necessary to use different models at different times for different groups of students. We believe that the best place for student learning and development to thrive is on campus and, as our preferred model, we will always aim to have all students on campus when the public health situation allows it. In situations where it is not possible to have everyone on campus at the same time we will aim to provide on-campus learning opportunities as frequently as possible through our blended learning model. And when necessary to protect the health of students and staff and mitigate the risk for the community as a whole, we will not hesitate to temporarily close a grade, section or entire campus.
Although we will take the utmost care to accurately assess the public health risk in deciding which model to employ at any given time and maintain precautionary measures to minimize the risk of infection when students are on campus, it should be understood that the risk cannot be eliminated. Moreover, we recognize that families may have different circumstances, such as household members with underlying medical conditions that place them at higher risk. We acknowledge that the decision on whether to send children to school is ultimately up to parents/guardians.
Responding to COVID-19 Cases in Our Community
When a case of COVID-19 is detected within our community we will act quickly in coordination with public health authorities to assess the risk to our community. This may mean that we ask a student, grade, section or the whole school to remain at home for a limited number of days and to limit interactions with others while we collect information and assess any potential risk. Once the public health authorities have provided us with specific guidance, we will inform you at the earliest instance of any further actions requested of the school community.
Based on the experience of previous cases and other schools that have had cases of students testing positive for COVID-19, public health authorities focus their attention in identifying those who may have been in “close contact” with an infected person during a specific period when they may have been contagious. The authorities define close contact as being within 1 meter of the person for 15 minutes or longer talking without wearing a mask. When close contact with others at school is considered to have occurred, follow-up contact tracing and testing may be advised and particular individuals or groups of individuals may be requested to isolate or quarantine for a period of time. Authorities generally try to avoid recommending temporary class, grade or school closures, and when such closures are recommended they are usually only for a period of a few days.
Although we will always follow the minimum recommendations of public health authorities, we reserve the right to go beyond the advice from Japanese health authorities in order to ensure the safety of our students and wider community.