From mandatory quarantines and a St. Moritz getaway to the return of sports and live classroom instruction, we offer a photo-driven look at the unusual start to the 2020–2021 academic year.
Boarding Students Return to Campus
On August 24, for the first time in more than 150 days, boarding students returned to campus. Our Admissions and Residential Life teams worked tirelessly all summer to prepare for these students’ arrival and were excited to finally put plans into action.
Last March, in response to the global Covid-19 outbreak, we sent students home and implemented a distance learning model for ten weeks. When cases declined in Switzerland, we successfully reopened our campus to Elementary and Middle School day students on May 25 for the final two weeks of school. Boarding students remained home and finished the academic year online, and the 2020 Commencement Ceremony was also virtual.
The 75 boarders who arrived in late August were coming from countries and regions on Switzerland’s “high-risk” list and had to observe a 10-day quarantine on campus. As explained in our Opening Plan, all boarding students were tested for Covid–19 soon after their arrival and then housed in single rooms for the duration of the quarantine period.
To facilitate tracking and tracing processes, all boarding students required to quarantine were housed and fed within our campus’s “quarantine zone” and were separated into identifiable groups throughout the quarantine period, only interacting with the fellow members of their group and always following the current federal guidelines for social distancing and mask usage.
On-Campus Testing Facility
With input from the Swiss Medical Network, Dr. Vincenzo Liguori coordinated an on-campus Covid-19 Testing Facility. All boarding students were administered both a nasopharyngeal test (RT-PCR) and a serology test soon after their arrival on campus.
Believing that each and every one of us has an obligation and an opportunity to contribute to the health, safety, and welfare of the community, we went a step further and announced on August 27 that all day students would also be required to take a Covid-19 test before starting school.
A total of six students—four boarding and two day—tested positive for Covid-19. All students were asymptomatic, were placed in isolation, and have since been cleared to return to school.
St. Moritz Getaway
As a reward for completing their 10-day quarantine on campus, 72 High School boarding students left campus on the morning of Friday, September 4, and spent three nights in beautiful St. Moritz with Dean of Students KC McKee, Admissions Director Emily McKee, and several other TASIS chaperones. Students had a wonderful time exploring St. Moritz, hiking, ice skating, riding scooters, and getting to know their classmates. See a gallery of photos from the amazing weekend.
The remaining boarding students, who were coming from countries not on Switzerland‘s “high-risk” list, arrived on campus throughout that weekend and settled into dormitories that were intensively cleaned as soon as the quarantined students departed for St. Moritz.
Preparing for Hybrid Learning
In anticipation of some students needing to stay home during the course of the academic year, our hardworking teachers attended extensive training on hybrid teaching best practices during this year’s Faculty Orientation. A hybrid model consists of running regular classes on campus while also providing students who need to stay home the option to access classes remotely through videoconferencing.
Orientation at Villa Principe Leopoldo
Day student families from each division gathered at the beautiful Villa Principe Leopoldo for orientation meetings and a welcome from the TASIS Parent Association (TPA) over the course of August 31–September 2. See more photos.
The 2020-2021 academic year began on September 3 with live classes for the Elementary and Middle School and two days of online courses for the High School. All grade levels began attending in-person classes on Monday, September 7. Click here for more photos.
Safety Measures on Campus
To significantly reduce the risk of infection, we implemented many health and safety measures across campus, including thermal cameras for immediate temperature checks, mandatory mask-wearing for all students in grades 2–12, procedures to ensure safe distancing of at least 1.5 meters between students, the installation of plexiglass in classrooms and dining halls, and much more. See our Fall 2020 Campus Safety Plan for details.
On the Same Page
Faculty members in all three divisions devoted time in the early classes and advisor meetings to reinforce the guidelines and measures outlined in our safety plan.
Academics Take Flight
Students have done a wonderful job adapting to the new routines, and teachers have made use of the beautiful fall weather as much as possible. Ms. Kelly Burleson’s 9th-grade Biology class, for example, enjoyed getting outside to test how wing length affects the flight of a paper airplane.
“Peach Boy” Brought to Life
To launch a reading unit on literary themes, Mr. Matthew Friday led his fifth-grade class in a lively reenactment of “Peach Boy,” a Japanese folktale.
Learning in Action
Middle Schoolers learned the elements of fiction by playing a literary “escape the room” game orchestrated by Ms. Holly Wiens.
Learning through Play
Return of Sports
High school girls packed the Palestra on September 15 to try out for the Girls Varsity Volleyball team. Earlier in the afternoon, high school boys and girls also competed for roster spots on the Cross Country team, Boys Varsity Volleyball team, and Girls and Boys Varsity Soccer teams. See more photos of the first day of tryouts.
Fun in the Sun
Meanwhile Middle School students in Mr. Tom Lill’s Physical Education classes took full advantage of many beautiful September days to play Kan Jam outside in the sun.
Monticello Dorm Activity
Exploding balloons covered in shaving cream—there’s no quicker way to break the ice and get to know your new dormmates. For their first dorm activity of the year, the girls of Monticello Dormitory shaved balloons on the outdoor basketball court and enjoyed ice cream sundaes on the De Nobili terrace.
Service Learning Fair
TASIS High School students had a chance to learn about the different global and local service groups during this year’s Service Learning Fair on the afternoon of September 23.
Launched in 2013, the pioneering Opsahl Global Service Program is designed to awaken students to humanitarian needs; inspire them to build enduring, mutually beneficial relationships; and lead them toward a life of active citizenship and committed service. See more photos.
Red-Blue Chair Project
High School students in Khan-Page Master Teacher Mark Aeschliman’s Architecture class began the course with his annual red-blue chair project.
FIRST LEGO League Challenge
The Road to College
The TPA organized a “Road to College” luncheon at Villa Principe Leopoldo on the afternoon of September 29. Parents from all divisions were invited to meet the TASIS College Counseling team—including new Director of University and College Counseling Johanna Fishbein and new University and College Counselor Kirk Mitchell—and ask questions about admissions testing, college admissions processes around the world, and other topics of interest. See more photos from this lovely event.