The pandemic that has been affecting the world for more than a year, was bound to also have a decisive impact on the education sector, with schools experiencing major setbacks.
At the International School of Paphos, we have taken all appropriate measures in response to the pandemic, with the health and safety of our students and staff being a priority. At the same time, however, we have ensured that the quality of our services remains at the highest level possible.
In an organised and planned manner, we proceeded to take measures covering all of our services and activities, in relation to both our facilities, and to informing, training and preparing our staff and students.
At the same time, we introduced additional school entrance/exit gates, in order to prevent overcrowding when students enter and exit the school, while we also upgraded the outdoor areas with shelters and benches. The classrooms, as well as the school’s other areas, were modified in accordance with the protocols provided by the Ministries of Health and Education. Particular attention was paid to the classrooms, where individual desks were placed by observing the prescribed distances, with each pupil attending lessons from the same seat throughout the school term.
Since the beginning of the school year, we have tried and succeeded in separating the different classes to a large extent, and reducing student interaction to a minimum (through the “bubble system”). More specifically, students in each class use designated classrooms, move to specific areas during break time, and enter and exit the school through specific entry and exit gates. It should be noted that temperature screening is performed on everyone who enters school facilities, while a record of contacts is kept for visitors. In this way, the possibility of transmitting the virus outside the classroom is dramatically reduced, while the possibility of contact tracing in the event of a confirmed case is feasible and much more efficient.
The school board quickly recognised the need for additional support from specialised personnel in response to the pandemic, and proceeded to employ a Health and Safety Officer while also increasing its number of cleaning staff.
Throughout this period, we have organised seminars and information days, to ensure that all staff, students and parents are updated on any developments relating to the pandemic but also distance learning. At the same time, we made sure to maintain direct communication and interaction between teachers and students, the school and parents, but also between teachers, for mutual support and coordination.
Having as a priority to maintain the high level of teaching we have always offered our students, during distance learning, we implemented fast-track training programmes for our teachers and provided them with the necessary equipment (laptops, headsets, cameras, tablets), so that they could teach and communicate with students in the best way possible.
Adapting to the constant protocol changes on how to best manage the pandemic in schools, has been and remains a major challenge. However, by being timely, thoroughly and continuously informed on the matter, we have been able to implement the updated provisions both quickly and accurately, and to inform our staff, parents and students of any changes that arise.
At the International School of Paphos we believe that under the circumstances, we did the best we could to get through the pandemic with the least possible damage. At the same time, we were given the opportunity to better organise ourselves, to work in a more team-oriented and efficient way, to evolve, to seek new approaches and to become more adaptable, more flexible and more outward-looking.