Director’s message 27

ISO Parents (and Upper School Students)


After hosting 20 weeks of school, I am happy to report that:

  • Our largest “new” student cohort in years has successfully settled into our program
  • The Board of Trustees has been reconstituted, and had a professional virtual training last Friday. All current active members were in full participation for the three-hour “retreat.”
  • Our teachers and parents have worked together today (and on our drill day) to assist our students in their learning process.

It has been a busy, but extremely successful start to our 44th year here at the International School of Ouagadougou.

To that end, as announced at the start of the year, the International School of Ouagadougou adopted Google Classroom, PlusPortals, SeaSaw, Flipgrid and other tools to assist with distance learning. This was put in place in the event that we had to, once again, throttle between hosting classes here on our school site, or online with distance learning.

Please note, as per our Distance Learning Plan:

“The International School of Ouagadougou recognizes the value of in-person, relationship-based learning and acknowledges that distance learning is not intended to serve as replacement but rather in times of necessity, can be utilized to leverage value learning away from school. The distance learning plan provides guidelines and insights about how ISO faculty will utilize digital and experiential learning away from campus.

At the core of ISO’s approach to distance learning is the belief we should emphasize both consistency and adaptation. This means we need to think differently about our priorities when responding to challenging circumstances, and we should embrace new opportunities for students to learn in authentic, meaningful ways.”

As one parent shared with me by email yesterday:

“Again thank you all for the warm welcome and allowing our daughter the possibility to continue what she found a very interesting online study methodology that kept us all safe during the most difficult period. The measures during the reopening were excellent, and it is unfortunate, but the risks of infection on campus were always there.”

I thank the parent, and all the parents who joined us for our Parent Information Session for their feedback. Some key takeaways:

  • “Can the school release the name of the person who has either been exposed or infected to coronavirus?” This is considered a medical condition, so confidentiality applies, however, the parents (and so far we have had 100% compliance) can authorize the school to release the name, and the school (or family) will use that information to contact others as they deem appropriate.
  • “What are the different scenario plans that the school presently has in place?” Our Health and Safety Manual is an evolving document, and it will change based on some of the experiences we had in recent weeks. Presently we have the following few scenarios planned:

  • “What if a positive test becomes a “false positive?” We will treat every confirmed case of coronavirus as a confirmed case. If a Student/Support Staff/Teacher has a positive test, which later proves to be ‘false positive’, we will still ask the student not to come to school until another test, given a week later, that verifies a negative result.
  • “What happens if a student tests positive and a vacation period is not just a few days away?” As per our August Distance Learning/Coronavirus Planning, school will be closed for 72 hours (3 days) to deep clean where the student has been, and to conduct contact tracing. However, the different organizations, the Office of Overseas Schools, The Association for the Advancement of American Education (AAIE) and the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA) will be re-evaluating their guidelines in early January. We will use their suggestions/recommendations and incorporate them into our planning for the second part of the school year.

And finally, as discussed during our conference call – A Note for Families Traveling over the Break:

Please be sure to check:

  • the health and safety protocols of the countries you are traveling to
  • that the entry regulations do not change here in Burkina Faso.

Upon return, please be mindful that if you are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 or have been exposed to the virus, you should stay at home until you are medically cleared to return to campus.

If the present health trends both here in Burkina Faso, and around the world, continue or worsen, then the school will consider holding the first week of school “on line” to ensure that it is both safe and appropriate to return to our school site and holding classes physically on campus. I return from Niamey, Niger (which presently has less recorded cases than Burkina Faso) on January 6th, and a decision will be made, and communicated at that time.

I want to thank everyone for their patience, cooperation, and understanding during this challenging period. As discussed previously, our overall goal remains to keep your children safe and the school open during the COVID-19 pandemic — providing uninterrupted educational services — whether they are in-person or temporarily online. We thank everybody in our community for your unwavering support in making that possible.

As we still have two days left of school before the Winter Break, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or your teachers, if you have any additional questions.