Slipping Through My Fingers

Dear ISR, I have relied on this website for many, many years. It has led me to incredible International Schools and detoured me from others that would not be a good fit. I’m ready to return abroad once again and had, earlier in this recruiting season, accepted a fine position in the EU for the 2020-2022 school years. However, with COVID-19, I now see this opportunity slipping through my fingers and would like to share and discuss this experience with other educators in the same boat.

As the situation is escalating in the US and around the world, I can’t imagine my work visa will get processed, or that the international travel ban will be lifted in time for me to begin in August. If “back to school” means e-teaching, the school can’t even place me on their payroll without the proper government documents. Without a work visa there is no job…

What does the future hold? At what point will the EU school be forced to rescind their offer? So many questions and concerns, yet very few answers! Life as we know it is in a holding pattern. Are teachers who were planning to make a move in a few months all seeing those plans slipping from their grasp? Any thoughts on this topic?


(name withheld by request)

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11 thoughts on “Slipping Through My Fingers

  1. I left a recent teaching job with relatively minimal fuss, on what was basically a technicality, and with the understanding that I would start during this year at a new school in a different country. The (expensive and time consuming) paperwork took a little longer than usual and instead of arriving in February I am now in my previous country still unable to move there physically due to the lockdown although I now have all of the relevant permissions to move there paperwork-wise, and have a signed a contract for the remainder of this academic year. However the new school have now said I must wait until the next academic year to be employed by them, even though I think it is perfectly viable for me to work long distance now, since currently all of their staff are doing this. This now means I will then be 5 months unpaid which I have certainly not bargained for. Thoughts? Any suggestions as to how I respond to the school are appreciated. The people from the platform through which I found the job have been unhelpful to say the least.


  2. I would try and stay put. Also I would reach out to my bosses as soon as possible and let them know I am open to do that, even if you had planned on transitioning. How are you getting visas when you can’t get medicals? Countries aren’t going to make exceptions and if anything are only going to tighten their entry requirements.

    We should all be grateful to have jobs. This is not the time to be moving.

    With falling enrollments some schools will even be cutting back staff. I plan to hold on for dear life and I work at a tier 0 school, in a less than ideal location, that pays well.

    Better to stick with a known commodity than take a step into the unknown.

    We are in uncharted territory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear writer,
    as an experienced international educator like yourself, I too appreciate your uncertainty. I’m due to move back to a former employer in Asia and have to bear in mind that even if flights are operating there, it could still mean arriving two weeks early for quarantining and perhaps e teaching even then…Assuming my contract still stands…
    All we can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We are luckier than many in that working from home is possible and hence if we e teach we get paid, at least for now.
    Schools worth their salt will have considered a plan B. Ending this academic year early. Bringing staff and students in earlier for next year, little by little, perhaps. Adjusting staffing. But students need to be educated and schools need staff to do that. Therefore, I think schools may find themselves short on staff, rather than overstaffed, as some teachers no longer see the allure of international postings if one may not be able to leave for the holidays and visits home if wanting to retain a job.
    As far as visas and paperwork go, official offices haven’t shut up shop for good. Worrying won’t change the eventual outcome, since it is beyond your control, but you can be proactive. As suggested, if you feel it would help, contact your school for reassurance that they are doing all they can to facilitate new staff arrival and induction and that, as far as they can judge, staffing still stands as when you were recruited. Hopefully they are in regular contact with staff, anyway, regarding current and foreseen circumstances. We will get out the other side of this, look at Wuhan, but it will be slowly and with some spikes and steps back, for sure, regarding the virus infection rate and easing of restrictions. Best of luck. Stay positive and hopeful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am going to look for further job opportunities for 2021 the upcoming fall, and I am quite concerned about how the recruitment season will look like this time. I firmly believe that many schools will not hire new staff or will look to recruit only a few since many of them will definitely struggle due to the decreasing numbers in admission.


  4. There’s good advice in this conversation. I think the most important point is that we’re all waiting. We’re waiting to see what happens with the virus, with the economy, and with our jobs. The school administrators are waiting to see what the students and their families decide to do. The families are waiting to see what happens to their income after the peak of the crisis. I like my school and they’re pleased with my work, but I’m concerned about a cascade of decisions, beginning with students, that forces my school into actions that affect my job.

    I find myself looking for an expert analysis of the situation with international education, but nobody is peering into their crystal ball for us in the way they might for the tech industry or some other huge part of the world economy. On the other hand, I’ve been living abroad for many years, mostly as an educator. In this unprecedented situation, I don’t know that any analyst would have better instincts than those of us in the field.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If you have a job in the current country where you are – don’t think about moving. No school can guarantee where they will be, if there will be flights or visas issued or numbers.

    Schools are hedging their bets too, and allowing rescinded resignations whilst also advertising for new staff.

    Whatever happens in August / September there will be some disappointed teachers and schools.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think there are many of us in the same place right now. I got hired for my first international position. My future principal contacted me and said they are planning to move ahead, at this point. But I have not given my notice at my current job because everything is so unsure. For mexi have come to terms with “it will happen or it will not” and that it is out off my hands. I suspect I will eventually get there, but maybe at a later date than I had planned. The world is waiting with us . 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  7. As an EU citizen, I can tell you that (from what I know) government services are still operational. They belong to the public sector and can not simply shut down, and most countries are efficient at least to an extent. So if your school is on top of things, I reckon you should be fine. Personally, I’m more concerned about potential drops in enrollment around the world (I, too, am supposed to move to a different country – this time finally to my dream destination and to a wonderful school, so I’m just about to jump out of my skin).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are right, that government offices in the EU are still open, but it can still be complicated. I moved to the EU just as this crisis was beginning, and I’m still waiting for a lot of paperwork to be completed by understaffed offices. Worse, my family hasn’t been able to get their visas because the consulate in my home country is closed because of the crisis.


  8. Dear Colleague,
    I don’t think anyone has a crystal ball with Covid-19 and even if things ‘settle’ between May and August (not a long time) there will be disruptions still and then no guarantee that you will be in EU come August. Having said that some schools may change their school year around a little and so it may a little later in the year. There will be long term disruptions to international travel and employment in all countries with some private schools losing student numbers and not needing as many staff. You are correct that some places will not be easy to get to and there is no guarantee that countries will be in a position to let people in from other countries in large numbers anyway. Then again, some countries and thereby schools may get back to normal or at the least to the ‘new’ normal. As you can see a lot of ‘maybe’.
    Contact the school and see what contingencies, if any, they have in place or when will they be able to give you some answers. If the school is such a good school (as you suspect) they will be /should have been communicating with you anyway at this stage. Many school admins would be grappling with this question about now and may close early for summer anyway which means they will have to make some interim decisions about next year within the next six weeks anyway. These decisions will be subject to change or they may adopt a ‘wait and see’ and ask for everyone to exercise patience. It is therefore a case of wait and see for everyone- accept or reject that as you wish. My advice is contact the school and see what they are thinking at this stage; try a little patience, this is not just an issue which affects you but also have your own Plan B as well (you should always have one any way).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear invisible(no name)……the simplest and most reassuring thing to do is to write your questions down and contact your European school directly, either by phone or e-mail. I would go the phone route and speak to the DG or owner/board and ask for written assurances that their offer will be respected once the dust settles. If they won’t then you can bet they are rethinking their offer in light of the covid-19 pandemic.

    Liked by 1 person

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