Impacts on student learning due to Covid-19 at Qingdao Amerasia International School
On January 11, 2019, our students entered the Chinese New Year vacation not knowing that for most students, this would be the last school day for over 4 months.
It was during the vacation that news of a total lockdown in Wuhan became clear and quickly all of China was placed under security measures to protect all local communities through restricted travel and mandatory quarantine. Travel was initially reduced and restricted internally in China and then later flights from outside China were banned.
Because students, teachers, parents and administrators were dispersed world-wide, teaching and learning, even remotely, was fraught with difficulties including local access to the internet, continuing health threats, and suitable places to work (many students were in small hotel rooms with family and also under local regulations as to movement).
Remote education was established through Microsoft Teams and academic tasks, work submission and feedback through our IB information platform (ManageBac). Learning and administration had to be both synchronous and asynchronous because of the dispersed nature of the student and faculty bodies. As a result, the teaching and learning was certainly below what we would have expected if face-to-face classes had taken place mainly due to the level of teacher and peer interaction as well as the psychological stresses on both students and teachers.
The nature of the threat of Covid-19 was also unknown which led to increasingly serious problems for students and teachers as the lockdown continued as it was not certain how long isolation would continue for, and whether we would be returning to school that academic year or not.
Upper school students who were in Qingdao returned to school on May 20, 2019. We extended the school year by three weeks to help mitigate the effects of students and teacher displacement and to build community. We also cancelled all end of year examinations for the high school because we felt that this would create undue emotional stress on these students (many of whom were already being supported by counselling professionals).
Students from other schools around the world who had been on China for the New Year vacation enrolled in our school having been effectively displaced from their studies abroad and had to begin learning with us remotely without any physical introduction to our school.
Some students were caught at the epicentre of epidemics in their countries and several students did not return to China until October 2020.
While our students have shown resilience and fortitude in the wake of Covid-19, and while we are effectively back to “normal face-to-face learning” it is now becoming clear that many students, parents and teachers are still being affected by their 4 months of absence from school in 2019.