China: Covid Lock-downs & Mental Health

by Anonymous International Teacher / ISR Guest Writer

On the 26th of March 2020, China instigated significantly restricted travel Visas for both exiting and entering the country. As of November, 2022, there is still no specific date set for the free flow of people into and out of the country.

As such, there has been a strong emphasis on educators’ inability to leave the country, but that is not the end of it. With the experience of living through some of the world’s most draconian lock-downs (known as ‘dynamic Covid’) in the world, what is not as clearly understood is the wide variability in people’s personal experiences in China during lock-down.

I personally know of people who have been teaching in-person safely and with the continued ability to travel around China. In contrast, there are examples where friends have had trouble getting essentials such as adequate food. This may have been due to having weak links to ‘group buying,’ common during major city lock-downs. Or, it may be due, in part, to a lack of Chinese language skills and/or little to no support from the school.

Something that I think has often been misunderstood is the chronic trauma and grief suffered by some fellow educators in China that still follows them to this day. Not being able to leave your home for months at a time can lead to major problems with social isolation. The students are also in the same boat, so our ability to look after our students was also mixed.

Administrators from outside countries, I also believe, paint teachers from China with a very broad brush stroke as “damaged goods” or have the attitude of “we went through the same in _XYZ_ country and survived, so we don’t understand your trauma as being that big of a deal.”

What would you like administrators to know about YOUR experience when they interview teachers who have been in China during Covid times? How was mental health addressed for staff in YOUR school while working in a city that experienced prolonged lock-downs? Do you feel that there is a discrimination, for or against, those educators who come from posts in China?

Comments? Please scroll to participate in this ISR Discussion

China Visa Rude Awakening

Considering China for a Career Move?
An ISR Member Recounts Their Failed Ordeal

“I was interviewed and offered a job in November, 2021. I’m based in the UK. I was interviewed via Skype. I really liked the director and was looking forward to joining the school.

The paperwork process began and 3 months later I had all the necessary document legalizations from the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCOD) and the Chinese Embassy, as well as a new police certificate. I spent hundreds of pounds travelling back and forth to London, invested lots of time and energy, and also lost pay for the days I took off work to attend legalization appointments.

A week prior to receiving the Chinese legalizations, I came across the required steps for entering China after receiving a work visa. The school had not informed me of these steps – they had only outlined the steps to get the visa. After visa approval, there would be a number of hurdles to overcome.

At the time of research, there were no direct flights to China from the UK. Direct flights leaving Europe were £1700-£4000 one way at the time. Indirect flights from the UK involved 1 or 2 transit stops. Indirect flights would not have been an issue until I understood the Health Declaration Certificate (HDC) required in order to receive an approval to fly. The flight allowance was 6000RMB (£719 / $943US).

Obtaining the HDC would involve receiving negative PCR and antibody COVID tests from medics approved by the Chinese Embassy in the UK. There are very few on the list and the test costs around £300. If someone has had Covid, there are extra PCR and chest X-ray tests to undergo at least 4 weeks before your flight at a cost of around £400. Add to this the need to do the PCR tests again in any transit city at that country’s Chinese-approved facility and these medical check costs could end up being well over £1000, especially if I’d had to stay in a transit city to attend an appointment or await results, etc. This is after already paying the legalizations and visa costs (£600+).

Having had Covid I was starting to worry that these upfront costs were unaffordable, given that I’d also learnt I needed to pay the 14-day hotel quarantine on arrival and later request a refund. I was also concerned that I might not be able to avoid a reinfection within 90 days of the flight as it is very hard to avoid in the UK, especially in schools.

I raised my concerns with the school and they immediately offered to buy the flight and possibly pay the quarantine on arrival. When I shared the details of the possible costs and my concerns about paying all of them upfront with the risk of being refused entry into China (I’ve heard this has happened to some), they said they would get back to me with the level of financial risk I might expect. Instead, they came back to me saying that since I had had Covid, the PU letter needed to apply for the visa would likely be rejected. They then reneged on the job offer as they now thought I would be unable to enter China (or so they said).

If I couldn’t get into China after recovering from Covid, why hadn’t they told me that having had Covid was a deal breaker when I interviewed in November? If people who recover from Covid can’t get into China, why does the Chinese Embassy require an extra medical step for these people?

To be fair, the school did refund the cost of the legalizations but not the travel and all the other costs incurred. This is something, I guess.

This is a message for anyone thinking about interviewing who is NOT already based in China: I would advise you to check the steps to entry carefully on your country’s Chinese Embassy website and decide how much effort you’re willing to expend and how much cash you’re willing to risk in the event you can’t get into the country.”

ISR asks: How does your experience compare with the author’s?
Advice? Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion Topic

The Word on Virtual Recruiting Fairs

We can’t help but wonder: Would virtual Recruiting Fairs have replaced in-person recruiting, or even done so by as much as 20%, if it had not been for COVID-19?

Other than keeping recruiting companies from joining the list of COVID causalities, what, if anything about virtual recruiting, is advantageous for these companies? Reduced fees for schools & candidates certainly aren’t good for a bottom line, while at the same time expenses associated with creating & maintaining a digital venue can be substantial.

Teachers & Admin commenting on ISR sum it up like this:

I see virtual recruiting fairs becoming an end-of-season catch-all for schools & teachers still looking. It could work well for last minute vacancies. Other than that, I’m not a fan.

I am seeing a ton of schools [on *** recruiting site] I have never, ever heard of ….”

That’s a whole lotta lousy schools .… [reduced fees & no travel expenses cleared the way for schools previously unable to participate.]”

As a recruiter I hate online fairs because unreliable technology & video conversations always feel even more awkward. But, I have also always hated in-person fairs because I don’t like taking so much time out of my schedule & staying at a hotel. There is def a benefit of someone actually sitting across from you so you do get a better sense of what they are really like…..”

“In-person fairs will still happen in the future because recruiters believe the in-person experience gives them a better sense of the candidate & also because it’s an efficient way to interview many candidates in-person in a short amount of time — it’s what I’ve heard recruiters say & I do agree. I also get a better sense of the admin when I have an in-person interview. Having a bunch of interviews in 2 days & possibly walking away with a job at the end is better than weeks of searching, emailing & Skype-interviews across time zones. The in-person preference is also part of the reason why some schools fly in the final two or three candidate for an interview.

Of course there are positive aspects to virtual recruiting fairs for both schools & candidates. However, we’ve yet to hear teachers or admins mention any that go beyond monetary savings & convenience. When COVID fades into history, will virtual Recruiting Fairs go with it?

If YOU were asked to sum up your experience with virtual recruiting fairs in one or two succinct paragraphs, what would that statement read like?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Is Going International Still Worth it?

Ask any International Educator and the chances are good they’ll tell you the most compelling reasons for going international is the potential for nearby travel adventures, total cultural immersion, and the opportunity to form new friendships with colleagues, parents and host nationals, alike. Considering COVID has all but put an end to this, the question remains: Are the sacrifices you make to go international still worth the costs it can impose on your future?

An ISR Member Comments: Upon returning to my home country it took 3 full years to be employable again. Employers simply do not take international teaching seriously. Although some acknowledge intercultural skills could have been developed, most just see the overseas experience as a flight risk and an experience that is less relevant and verifiable.

It has been a difficult journey and one I will never recover from financially. All those years of working for meagre pay and not paying into my national pension plan will leave me working until 70 at least. Now, I’m working under people much younger than me. Most of my friends are earning 6 figures and well invested in local real estate, while I am entry-level and renting a shabby apartment.

Would I do it all over again knowing how difficult it would be to reintegrate, and knowing what I was giving up for my future? Maybe. Would I do it now, though, with all the restrictions due to COVID? Not a chance in hell!

Consider the following:
Schools are indiscriminately breaking Contract due to low enrollment. Closed borders are preventing teachers from leaving their host country because reentry is/may be blocked. Scores of teachers have not seen family or friends for more than 2 years. Quarantine requirements at open borders can make leisure travel to neighboring countries prohibitive. Social distancing makes cultural immersion and forming new friendships all but impossible. Lastly, but certainly of utmost consequences, virtual teaching from a hotel room, as a number of international educators have reported, is not an International experience.

ISR asks: With a global pandemic diminishing the essence of the International Teaching experience, is going International still worth it?

Comments? Please scroll to participate in this ISR Discussion Topic

Stuck Overseas

If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve been reluctant to board the plane for China. Of course, I probably would have gone, but in a much more prepared state of mind. In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined a global pandemic suddenly keeping me and hundreds, maybe even thousands of International Educators from seeing family and friends.…for years.

In March of 2020, in reaction to COVID, China blocked entry to everyone but its own citizens. The academic year at my school ended 4 months later. My school warned teachers about the consequences of leaving the country. Some left anyway and got locked out. I’ve been in-country for just over 2 years to date.

Like so many of us in my situation, I miss family and friends. However, the cold reality is this: I have student loans, a mortgage, and other financial responsibilities. I can’t risk being unemployed, so here I am still in China, a prisoner to my finances. Virtual platforms have helped take the edge off the distance but a digital screen just can’t replace a shared experience like taking a walk or dining together.

At times I’m tempted to pack up and leave. My parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents aren’t getting any younger and heaven forbid one of them becomes gravely ill, or worse, passes. What then?

This is a predicament many International Educators are confronting, not just in China, and it may be comforting to many of us to learn how teachers in the same situation are adapting and coping in other locales. It would be much appreciated if ISR would include my comments in an upcoming ISR newsletter.

Thank you ISR for all that you do.

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Pandemic Plan “B”

Earlier this year, with COVID on the downturn, educators, schools & recruiters, alike, predicted borders were on the verge of reopening with Visa processing soon to follow. Everything was looking positive! That is, until the unforeseen appearance of the Delta Variant, 10 times more contagious than COVID-19. Time for plan “B?”

Schools, despite what you may have been led to believe, really have little, if any, special insight into how the Delta Variant situation will unfold. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess what the future holds. This may explain why teachers are complaining that schools are not forthcoming with the much needed information required to make important career decisions.

At the time of this writing, 74 countries have closed their borders to all but citizens, residents & people in special circumstances. Taipei, China, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia & Malaysia are included on this list. Teachers who left closed-border countries for the summer are finding themselves locked out. Those who chose to stay in-country, instead of risking a border closure, report not seeing family or friends back home for up to 2 years.

The good news: 144 countries do have open borders. There are, however, entry restrictions such as proof of a negative COVID test, &/or proof of being fully vaccinated, &/or quarantine upon arrival.

Eight countries post no restrictions at this time. Mexico & Colombia head this list.


A Plan B Success Story

My wife and I have been waiting for months for TECO (Taipei Economic & Cultural Office) to open back up & process our Visas. We set the July 26 Level Change as our final deadline to make a decision on a plan of action.

Earlier in the year we quit jobs in Colorado & sold our home to return to the international life after a frustrating COVID year. In the meantime, while waiting on our Visas, we’ve been at my parents house & I started exploring other options.

Long story short, I was able to get hired last week at a top public school this late in the season. My wife begins interviewing next week. Talk about lucky! Not a bad Plan B.

I really, really wanted this Taiwan job to work out for so many reasons but I was tired of the uncertainty & these key factors:

1. No plan of actions were ever presented to me except: “You will be teaching remotely until the border opens up.” That meant I’d be teaching on a 12-hour time difference & not be able to get paid until I have a Taiwanese bank account open when I arrive in the country.

2. The fear of living in the US with no health insurance is real.

3. After the Visa processing begins again & we finally make it to Taiwan, we would still be subject to a two-week hotel quarantine & an extra one-week quarantine before entering a school. I understand why we would quarantine but I don’t understand why I would have to be separated from my wife & child for two weeks in separate rooms with no contact. Hard thing to explain to a two-year old! We live together & would fly together, I really don’t get it…

4. I have two cousins in Taiwan that have lived on the island for seven years. They estimate that quarantine restrictions will be in store until at least January. A mandatory quarantine at $100 a night for two weeks upon returning to Taiwan essentially traps you there for all intent & purposes. My fear is that this remains in place even longer with the Delta Variant & my family & I get trapped once we enter Taiwan.


ISR asks:

Are YOU one of the hundreds of International Educators awaiting a Visa or border opening? Do you have a plan “B?” If you have not done so already, at what point will you put your plan “B” into action? Are you willing to teach remotely from home for an unspecified period of time when what you really want is to go overseas?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

China Visa Gamble

Good news: One hundred fifty teachers and more than 60 schools with multiple available positions have so far registered for the upcoming Shanghai Virtual Recruiting Fair. The odds of landing a teaching position in China are looking strong! Bad news: The odds for Obtaining a Visa for China at the current stage of the pandemic are not looking good.

Issued by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office, the first step in the China Visa process is to obtain a PU letter, essentially an invitation to apply for a Visa. Companies apply for the letter in the name of their foreign employees. Individuals and agents cannot. With a PU letter in hand, Visa candidates visit the nearest Chinese Consulate/Embassy in their home country to complete the process. Herein lies the problem.

With the pandemic muddling up the works, many Chinese Consulates/Embassies are closed until further notice, or simply refusing to process Visas at this time. An ISR member reports that an open Chinese consulate refused to process her Visa, even though she had a PU letter. Teachers waiting for a PU letter have not been guaranteed a date of issuance. The word is it could be June before Visa processing resumes, with the most likely applicant to receive a Visa being a single teacher or teaching couple. A trailing spouse and/or dependent children could be denied.

The odds of landing a teaching position in China look like a slam-dunk. The odds of entering the country to assume that position, even with an invitation letter, look like a gamble. It’s a waiting game and one that strongly suggests teaching candidates have a viable plan “B” ready to roll should August come around with China still on lockdown.

Comments? Questions? Please scroll to participate in this ISR Discussion

Important Updates: Name Your School & Comment on Their Response to Covid-19

Caught by surprise with little to no disaster preparedness procedures in place, scores of International Schools succumbed to the onset of the Covid crisis with little more than a knee-jerk reaction. Conversely, many schools proved well prepared for just such an emergency, with an already established and well rehearsed virtual teaching platform in place, along with well thought out emergency procedures and policies. Some of us were very lucky to find ourselves at such a school!

The question is: How are individual schools currently dealing with the pandemic (as compared to when the crisis first struck)? This is the information we all need in order to make informed recruiting decisions during this unprecedented season.

For example: A school initially reported by teachers to have started out on shaky ground in the face of the crisis may have later developed a viable plan beneficial to both students and teachers. Or, a school that initially attempted to keep all staff on board may have eventually buckled under financial pressures due to decreased enrollment, forcing the dismissal of staff and possibly a failure to honor Contracts. Additionally, a school in locations with Covid-related Visa restrictions may no longer be able to guarantee entry to their host country.

There is no end to current, Covid-related scenarios that could affect the lives and careers of International Educators. If YOU have up-to-date info to Share on the Covid-related status of your school, we encourage participation in our endeavor to provide ISR Members and site visitors with the information needed to make informed career decisions during this recruiting season unlike any other.

To participate: Please click below to visit our original Article. Scroll (or use control F on your keyboard) to find already posted information about your school. Then click the REPLY link following the comments and enter your updated information. Comments are date-stamped so readers will know which are the latest comments. Your post will be made anonymously, as always.

Survey: 2020 Holiday Travel

How will YOU celebrate the 2020 Winter Holidays? Do you have travel plans or will you Shelter in place? Hands down, the most sensible, and possibly least appealing choice is to just stay put and maybe even self-quarantine.

Consider the following: Flying home to the United States and parts of Europe for the holiday, where the virus continues to rage, may be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Traversing crowded airports in these countries could later prove fatal not only to the traveler, but also family and friends and later to colleagues and students upon a return to the host country.

As International Educators and emissaries from our home countries, we have the responsibility to not only teach responsible behaviors, but to embody what we teach. Still, there are educators among us with the… “It won’t happen here attitude,” who will ignore the warnings and put themselves and others in harm’s way. Our guess is they are few and far between.

What’s YOUR plan for the Winter Holiday?


Comments? Please Scroll Down to Participate in this Discussion Topic

What You Need to Know about Recruiting in the Age of Covid

If you’re contemplating or planning on recruiting during these unprecedented times, you’re probably searching for answers to some pressing questions:

    • Is it worth recruiting this season?
    • Should I stay put in my current position for job security?
    • Do virtual Recruiting Fairs hold a candle to the real thing?
    • Is the job market glutted with teachers who lost their jobs to Covid? 
    • Are schools hiring or being super picky because jobs are at a premium?

As a Community of International Educators, we collectively have answers to these questions, and MORE. ISR invites YOU to take a minute and share YOUR experiences and insights regarding today’s recruiting climate. Together we can piece together the information each of us needs to make informed career decisions in the age of Covid-19.

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools Review is All About!

Please scroll down to Share your experiences & insights

Masks OFF

I am a French citizen teaching at an International Bilingual School in the U.S.A. (I’ll keep my identity and location confidential to not put my job in jeopardy.) I’m writing today because the overreaction  among a group of parents regarding students being required to wear face masks is something I never would have imagined from Americans. I’m disillusioned. Here’s a little background:

Last week we had what you call a “town hall.”  About 20% of the parents came without masks. They argued it’s their constitutional right to potentially infect the rest of us with the Covid virus. They didn’t say it quite like that, but that’s the takeaway. One parent said something about God protecting their child. The mask-wearing group tried to stress civic responsibility, children’s’ safety and respect. A few angry parents shouted them down. It was like they literally and figuratively removed their masks. It was ugly.

This degree of a sense of entitlement, lack of empathy and responsibility is something I haven’t seen before in America. I don’t understand why putting a piece of cloth over the mouth to help stop the spread of a deadly disease is too much to ask. You would think parents were being asked to sacrifice their first-born, which in the end they may be doing by denying them masks. The U.S. Constitution grants its citizens rights, but using those rights in a way that could cause the death of other citizens is inconsistent with what I know of America.

I would like to ask how teachers feel about mask requirements and what the situation is at schools that have opened during the pandemic? Are students and parents wearing masks, social distancing and doing their part to help keep everyone safe, in and out of school?  Or is the personal freedom group endangering the school community and the community at large?

Thanks ISR,
E.

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Taking a Year Off

A year gap on your resume can be an unwanted stain that’s sure to prompt an interviewing school Director to ask for an explanation:  Were you just hanging out? Traveling? Did an emotional overload dictate a break? Is there an ailing parent in the picture? How did you keep up your teaching skills? Are you sure you’re still interested in International education? Or, maybe you’re in some type of legal or financial trouble?

If you have been forced to spend a year away from International Teaching because Covid wiped out your position, or you autonomously decided to stay/go home and play it safe, there should be little worry about this explainable gap in your resume. However, ISR definitely does recommend you document your explanation with a letter from your previous school explaining the consequences of the Covid Virus on your previous school and position.

Do, and we encourage you, be prepared for this next question:  How did you spend your year off? Killing time vegging in front of YouTube isn’t going to win you stature as a candidate. On the other hand, cultural experiences, personal development or an addition to your credentials will paint a much better image of you and say something positive about what you’ll contribute to the school atmosphere. Again, documentation is important and helps a school Director choose the best candidate.

If YOU decided to take a year off due to the Covid crisis, or your school decided for you, ISR invites you to ask Questions about and Share thoughts on how YOU will incorporate this gap into your resume.  Of equal interest is your impressions on how a year away during the Covid crisis may affect future job seeking efforts and how YOU show you utilized the time to make yourself a better and more desirable International Education candidate.

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Kuwait International School Defies ALL Logic

An email to ISR from an Educator in Kuwait:

    “It’s been a strange few months and the Coronavirus has certainly brought to the forefront the position to which International Educators are relegated in Kuwait’s International Schools. Some of us have lost our jobs, some have had our salaries cut, and some have had annual leaves magically shifted by a month. More recently, some staff at my school were told their future Contracts for the next academic year were ‘null and void.’

The Ministry of Education (MOE) have been quite clear about when and how government-run schools will operate in the face of the Coronavirus. By contrast, the procedures for those of us at private International Schools have been sabotaged by miscommunication followed by misinterpretation. From the very beginning, my school refused to follow MOE Covid-19 guidelines:  “No! We are in the private sector! These regulations don’t apply to us!” Fortunately, the Minister appeared on TV to inform private institutions that they, too, are subject to MOE rules.

Kuwait is in Phase 3 of the lock-down. Salons and restaurants remain closed, yet private schools are considered ‘safe.’ Always ready to take advantage of a situation, my school has ordered teachers back on campus to commence online teaching! The logic defies all reason! We must E-teach from campus buildings, which under normal circumstances have some questionable hygiene practices, or ‘risk not being paid.’

Why on EARTH would administrators want teachers in school buildings in the middle of a full-blown pandemic to do EXACTLY what we can do from the safety of our homes and, in fact, have been doing for many months? Government teachers have been at home this whole time. They did no teaching at all and received pay. Something is not right with this picture.

What about teachers who are out of country? What about those who will return midway through the month and be required to remain in captivity … sorry, quarantine? It’s understood their ability to E-teach from home will not be hindered by their inability to cross the threshold of the hallowed school buildings. None of this make sense to me.
  
One colleague surmised that at a time when school owners may be considering trimming the fat, administrators might be feeling vulnerable and looking for ways to appear essential to the operation of their schools. It’s far easier to appear essential when buildings are full of teachers.    

Whatever happens, in the short-term, teachers will remember who had their backs, who was honest, who was humble and who was understanding. And who was not! Thanks for your earlier newsletter Name Your School & Comment on their Response to Covid-19. A number of my colleagues, including myself, have named and shamed our school.

Sincerely,

Disillusioned Educator 

 

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion

Keeping My Fingers Crossed


The news that Covid-19 had significantly declined in the area where my new International teaching position is located was a real cause to celebrate. Yes, I would have a job in September. But, wait, not so fast! The following week, American passport holders were banned from entering what was to be my new destination!

Someone once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans.” Truthfully, it feels like life just sneaked up and bit me on the behind. As an American currently in Texas, it’s unfathomable we handled the Covid-19 situation so incredibly poorly that developing nations have now closed their borders to Americans.

I had read on the ISR Forum that schools can pull strings to get teachers in, but haven’t heard anything about this from MY school. To date, the answer to any and all questions has been, “We’ll have to wait and see.” Well, we just can’t wait much longer with the academic year about to begin! I think my school should be able to offer some information, one way or the other.

At times I dwell on possible outcomes to this uncertainty and even have some severe emotional reactions to these imagined outcomes — not good for my attitude or health. So, I formulated 3 potential positive paths for my future and focus on them rather than on events I cannot control. Of course, everything could change in a heartbeat — just look at the hurricane that struck Texas last week! Yikes!

Well ISR, I do have my fingers crossed for a positive outcome. I’m sure my feelings are not unique. If you would post my letter and open up a community discussion on this topic of uncertainty, we as international educators could use our energy to support each other in these trying times.

Sincerely,

Ms B.

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ISR home page

Survey Results = 90% Wonderful News

Our goal at ISR was to create a comprehensive Survey, the results of which would provide International Educators with a much-needed insight into the feasibility of a career in International education during the ‘New Normal.’ Here’s what YOU need to know:

The Good News

Based on 1,300 responses, 90% of International Educators currently under Contract said they are confident their Contracts will be honored for the remainder of the school year and beyond. A full 90% of all educators starting at new schools also said they feel secure knowing their positions will be there for them in the new school year. Wonderful!

The Not-So-Good News

The remaining 10% of Survey participants report that their current, or upcoming, international teaching position has already been terminated, leaving them unemployed. Most educators in this predicament report that their schools have not responded to emails and/or phone calls. That says everything you need to know about such schools. For information on how particular schools have treated teachers during the pandemic, see Name Your School & Comment on their Response to Covid-19. Many Recent ISR School Reviews also contain related information.

The Unforeseen Complications

Impacting about 45% of International Educators who took our Survey is the very real inability to obtain a Visa due to government shutdowns. If you are in this category, ISR recommends contacting your school for guidance. They may have a temporary work- around should the problem persist.

The Future Looks Promising

Although nothing is written in stone and government responses to COVID-19 are changing and evolving from one day to the next, based on our Survey results ISR concludes the future for a career in International Education looks favorable at this time. See Decision Making in the New Normal for the most up-to-date Survey results.

Comments? Something to add? Please scroll down to participate!

Survey: Decision Making in the “New Normal”


As a direct result of COVID-19, International Educators are finding themselves jobless. For those still employed, or anticipating a move to a new school, the future remains uncertain. It’s little wonder many of us are feeling isolated, uninformed, and unsure what the future holds for our careers.

With the goal to provide a clear picture of the sweeping consequences COVID-19 is having on International Educators, ISR invites YOU to take a comprehensive Survey, the results of which should provide valuable information expected to assist International Educators in making career-impacting decisions.

Your participation, and that of colleagues scattered around the globe, will be mutually beneficial. Survey results display in real time so check back often for up-to-date information. ISR is All About International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed.

Part 1:
For Teachers at International Schools when COVID-19 Struck

Part 2:
For all Teachers Moving to a New School

Part 3: Visa Issues

Comments? Have something to add?
Please scroll to participate in this Discussion

Feel free to include the name of your school with your comments

Could This Be Normal?

A month into the COVID pandemic, with still no concrete ‘start date’ for the upcoming academic year, I telephoned the principal at what was soon to be my new school in Italy. I was simply looking for a little reassurance before officially resigning my teaching job in the States.

The principal was sympathetic. She understood my predicament. At least that’s what I thought….until she told me in no uncertain terms:

“If you fail to show up for school when we decide to open, you will be responsible for all expenses associated with hiring you, plus penalties. On the other hand, if we decide we don’t need you due to reduced enrollment, your Contract can be nullified with no financial compensation. Of course, in this situation you owe us nothing….”

It was painfully obvious I wasn’t going to get the reassurance I was looking for. I did, however, get the information needed to make a firm, much-needed decision. Jeopardizing my health and financial security for an organization that obviously could not give a damn about me was not about to happen! My final words to the principal? ‘Find yourself another teacher….I’m out!’

I realize I’m one of the fortunate ones. At least I still have a job. What if I had resigned my position here in the States? Worse yet, what if I was already working at the school prior to the pandemic, only to find myself put in the position of becoming a disposable commodity?

My Questions: Is it normal for International Schools to take such a hard-line stance, especially right now? Who in their right mind would expect educators to put their future in limbo with no assurance they won’t be left high and dry? Can this school really collect their recruiting fees from me?

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion

Back to School …. Already?


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of International Schools plans to reopen as early as this week, some by choice, others by government order. ISR Asks: What will this early return to the classroom look like for students & teachers?
  • Will teachers & students all wear masks?
  • Will social distancing be achieved through reduced class size & staggered lunches?
  • Will a percentage of students stay on virtual learning to reduce class size?
  • Will everyone entering school grounds be temperature-tested daily?
  • Would you comply with a return order if your school called you back today?
ISR Member and Site Visitors Comment:
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I’m not comfortable with it (an early return). I think I will be wearing a mask. I really miss the kids and they miss me, but I am more interested in first seeing the numbers in a week or two when those who traveled have symptoms appear. If a parent asked my opinion, I would tell them to keep their kids home if it’s possible or if they were worried. I would also encourage them to use a mask if possible. But that is not the school’s position.
There are a ton of guidelines to follow, many of which are near-impossible to enforce, but we’ll give it a shot. The government has mandated an opening so we have no choice. The only kids who won’t return are those with family members who are sick. If kids show symptoms at school, even mild ones, we are to send them home for 48 hours. Teachers are to also follow this rule.
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My school in China is reopening for grades 9 and 12. I am not in-country but they sent out a video to all high school students on the requirements and it looks like a prison! I would not want my kid going back and do not understand the value of going back compared to online. Also, since 1/2 our staff is out of country many classes are still distance-learning and the teachers that did go back are getting an increased workload without compensation. For example, I was directed to find a teacher on campus to remove all items besides desks and computers from my classroom and make sure all desks are 1.5 meters apart.
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Schools in Shanghai are opening in grade-stages. April 27, 2 high school grades return. Other grades will return staggered by grades, upper grades first. We have been told to be prepared to return after May 6 but nothing is confirmed yet. This is direct information from the Shanghai Education Bureau. Kindergartens open last.
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When I see how the school has prepared, I’ll determine then how comfortable I am going back. Lots of people here are roaming around without masks and it makes me very uncomfortable!

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(Note:  Previous comments are from ISR Open Forum)

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?

Sincerely,

(name withheld by request)

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Name Your School & Comment on their Response to Covid-19. Let’s Keep Each Other Informed


Firsthand accounts that describe how individual International Schools treat teachers during the Covid-19 pandemic will help us ALL to make informed career choices in the future. Schools which put teachers’ safety and well-being ahead of profits are schools where we all want to work.

Let’s help each other identify schools that we can depend on to support teachers in times like these. ISR invites you to Name Your School and tell colleagues about the support, or lack of support, your School is currently providing teachers in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About.

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about your School’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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