USA: The High Costs of Returning Home

Without insurance, both health and car, entering the US short- or long-term could spell financial suicide.

Count yourself lucky if your school provides health insurance that includes the United States. For those of us WITHOUT such broad coverage, even a short visit home could spell financial disaster if medical attention becomes necessary.

On the bright side, short-term policies are available at what could be argued ‘reasonable prices.’ Don’t be surprised, however, if you don’t qualify for the lowest premiums. Insurance companies set prices based on the odds of whether or not they’ll have to pay claims. Because you’ve been out of the country, there’s no paper trail to attest to your current state of health. Nothing personal. it’s just that you’re a bigger gamble so you’ll pay more.

Short-term policies do have a big disadvantage: They expire every six months. Should a health issue occur during any 6-month period, that issue is eligible to be classified as ‘pre-existing’ and not covered in an ensuing 6-month policy. For educators planning to stay a while, a short-term policy may not be the best choice.

A COBRA policy may be what you need if planning a long-term stay, such as moving back permanently. Named such, no doubt for its stinging high price, a COBRA policy lets you extend an expiring policy for a set period of time. Be aware: Insurance companies know you will no longer be overseas where medical costs are reasonable, but rather in the US where prices are often 10 times that of many other countries. The monthly premium will reflect this. Ouch!! A COBRA policy can be useful until you find a suitable long-term policy.

Not to rub salt into the wound, but you’re also going to need transportation. America is not known for its transit systems. You could risk it and drive without car insurance, but if you end up in an accident of your making and someone is hurt, an ambulance chaser will litigate you into financial ruin. If you’re an American returning from overseas and cancelled an existing policy some years ago, you’ll be placed in the “lapse in coverage” category. For all the insurer knows, you’ve been driving without insurance. You’re high risk now and the price reflects it.

Leaving the United States is easy. Coming back in is a different story. Factor two kids and a spouse into the equation and …. well, you see the problem! ISR asks: What has your experience been with visiting the US or moving home in terms of insurance? What advice would you give newbies?

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Caught in the Shanghai Lockdown w/ Children

Shanghai, China

If you’re unaware of the recent, draconian COVID-preventative measures taken by the government of China, allow us to bring you up to speed:

In late March, 2022, the Chinese government imposed a severe lockdown on the entire city of Shanghai, an area of over 26 million residents. Going far beyond anything experienced in the U.S. or European Union, the Shanghai lockdown demands all 26 million residents stay in their homes, 24/7. This has been in effect going on 5 weeks.

Faced with outrage from citizens, Chinese health officials held to their position, reporting they will continue to separate COVID-positive babies and children from their parents. The impact on a child, especially an English-speaking, Western-born child forcibly separated from their parents and taken to a Chinese detention hospital will be profound. To compound the trauma, visitation at these facilities is prohibited unless the parent also tests COVID-positive, in which case they can remain with their child. (See Google search results for more details.)

Shanghai is home to upwards of 40 International Schools, making it home to hundreds of expat educators and their children. China, overall, hosts 600 International Schools. What’s to prevent this brand of quarantine from spreading? Communist Party officials have already announced plans to move people from their homes in Pingwang, to Zhejiang Province for no less than a week while they sanitize the city. In Beicai, residents were told to move to temporary accommodations. The relocation order requires entry doors to remain unlocked and closet doors open.

ISR asks: If you are an educator living/teaching in China and accompanied by your children, how do you cope with this situation? Why haven’t you packed up and left?

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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

‘Mandatory Vaccination’ Schools

An ISR Member writes:

Hi all,

I’m trying to gain a bit of perspective on which International Schools are requiring vaccinations for current and/or new teachers attempting to gain employment. Also, if someone declined to be vaccinated or reveal their vaccination status, would that significantly inhibit their job prospects? What is the current situation in your school/country?

In Taiwan, unvaccinated teachers (at my school) can continue to work as long as they provide a negative test once a week, usually at the expense of the teacher.

P.S. I’m not looking to ‘release the hounds,’ so please keep it civil. We’re all worldly adults who can consider another’s perspective, right?

Thanks guys 🙂


ISR Members reply:

In Mainland China at my school, students age 12 and above, and ALL teachers, must be vaccinated – full stop.

All teachers in Pakistan must be vaccinated per government orders. They are also pushing through a mandate for students 15+, and 12+ will follow.

In Saudi you are not allowed any kind of public life at all without being vaccinated. Malls, SCHOOLS, grocery stores, etc. all require showing your government app with proof of vaccination on your phone before entry.

Vaccinations required in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia to start. I have friends at schools in all three countries and the schools require vaccination as they reopen.

My school in Beijing does not require vaccinations…yet. If they ever do, it will be because it is a government mandate. The vast majority of expat staff have been vaccinated. I’ve been told most of the hold-outs are Chinese staff.

I can imagine lots of schools will prefer teachers to be vaccinated, so not being vaccinated or refusing to disclose your status probably will impact your chances of landing a job, although there will be plenty of schools that will not ask you about it.

Note: The preceding is transplanted from the ISR Member Forum where site Members will find 72 informative entries on this timely topic. See Mandatory Vaccination . GO to Member Forum

Comments: Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

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.

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Vaccines, Masks, Social Distancing & Quarantines: How Your School Stacks Up

From the ISR Member Forum:

by voyager » Tue Aug 24, 2021
…..I’m definitely scouring reviews and FB groups to see how each school managed the vaccine access and safety measures for staff because that is the main reason I left my previous gig. Being denied a vaccine during the height of the pandemic, under lockdown all evening, high infection and death rates in the community but we were also required to teach in person with 300+ people a day really soured me on things this year.

by voyager » Thu Aug 26, 2021 11:06 am
…..yes I caught COVID at work in December 2020 as we were working in person during massive surges. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one but it gives me pause and when I recruit again this year I will be asking about vaccine access and safety measures going forward. Hoping to find something good but honestly I am not sure that the international teaching scene is going to be the same anymore. Who knows!

If you’ve been on the circuit for any length of time, it comes as no surprise some schools put profits before the health and safety of students, teachers, and parents. Regrettably, in the age of COVID, this makes choosing the right school more consequence-charged than ever before.

In April of 2020, during the early days of COVID, ISR hosted a Discussion Board dedicated to revealing how schools were coping with the virus. Over 185 teachers supplied information about their schools. Many schools were caught off guard and failed miserably.

Much has changed in the last 18 months. Hopefully schools reported to be slow to react, or that did not react at all, to the crisis now have a viable system in place to keep everyone safe. However, voyager‘s Comments (above) from the ISR Member Forum tell a different story.

Please scroll down, Name YOUR school and tell colleagues about Current COVID safe measures (or lack thereof) at your school. ISR will put a backlink to this Discussion Board on the Schools Review page of each school mentioned here, ensuring everyone gets ALL the information they need to make safe, sound decisions.

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Name YOUR school. Tell us about what is currently being done to provide a safe working environment in this age of COVID:

COVID Conflict: Breaking My New Contract

Last week I received confirmation my work Visa had been approved and processed. This news, from my new school in India, came with a reminder telling me the report date for new staff was set for late August, less than 2 short months away. But with daily world health news blaring negatively, I feel apprehensive to say the least. Yesterday, 46,000+ new COVID cases were reported in India, not including the thousands of cases health officials say go unreported each day.

In truth, my conscience doesn’t want to leave the school hanging, but if the new COVID case count stays the same or gets even worse, I’m planning to bail on the Contract. What else can I conceivably do? We all know that the school would not have any hesitation whatsoever letting me go at the the very, very last minute if it was faltering. Yet, still I’m feeling conflicted. Should I tell them what I’m thinking?

A sprinkling of ISR School Reviews report schools still rescinding Contracts due to the unforeseen rise of the COVID variant. If schools can break Contract at this late date due to COVID, so should teachers have the right to do the same. My feeling is, schools, along with recruiting agencies, don’t see it this way. My Contract contains a force majeure clause to cover unforeseen circumstances. However, on close examination, the wording implies only the school can exercise that right. No surprise there!

My question is: If I don’t get on the plane in August, will I be killing all subsequent chances to teach overseas? Will future potential employers and the big recruiters understand why I did not go, or will I be banned forever? Anyone else in this predicament? To quote a member of the ISR Forum: A Contract is not a suicide pact.

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Covid Vaccinated Status on Your CV?

Could including a Covid Vaccination statement on YOUR CV be a boost to your candidacy as an International Educator? We can’t predict the future, but it may be wise to stay one step ahead of what appears to be on the horizon.

Before you dismiss the idea, Consider the following:

  • More and more countries are instituting quarantine requirements for unvaccinated arrivals. As such, we could soon see an addendum to teaching Contracts that reads, “If not fully vaccinated upon arrival, teacher will assume all quarantine-associated costs.”
  • It has been rumored job descriptions may soon include a Vaccination requirement. Although a COVID Vaccination may not yet be a school requirement, countries could begin rejecting Visa applications of unvaccinated foreign educators.
  • The effort and expense associated with finding a teacher to replace an unvaccinated teacher, one who could fall sick after arrival, will surely lead schools to begin giving preference to vaccinated candidates.
  • For marketing reasons, schools may decide to advertise their staff as 100% vaccinated.

Considering schools receive hundreds of applications for posted positions, ISR asks: At this point in the COVID pandemic, would a COVID Vaccinated statement on your CV help support your desirability as a teaching candidate in upcoming recruiting seasons? Could proof of vaccination help assure continued employment at your current school?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Stressed Out School Leaders?

ISR has received the following commentary from a concerned Member in regards to an article appearing on The International Educator (TIE) website, New Survey Reveals Worrying Levels of Stress Among International School Leaders:

Normally I refrain from participation in online (or in-person) leadership discussions. I find them needlessly pedantic and self-serving even during the best of times. During this current crisis, I have attempted to seek guidance several times through online “leadership” portals, only to be either ignored or rebuffed for a wide variety of reasons.

After trying for this long and through this many avenues I reach the same conclusion that teachers reach when leaving their profession (which as we all know, they are doing in record numbers), which is that nobody knows what to do. The adults in the room have deserted us and are waiting for those who remain to simply fix the situation so they can return and tell us what we have done wrong. I am reminded of the quote by Roosevelt about “the man in the arena” (gendered speech not withstanding of course). 

This crisis has exposed the worst of our profession. Principals and Heads of School deserting their charges and their post when they were needed most. Those same “leaders” then demanding teachers return in-person to expose themselves to pestilence and disease while sitting safely removed from their schools or within the safe confines of their offices. To then read these same leaders tell us all about how much stress they are experiencing is beyond appalling. How difficult it must be to collect a large paycheck, written in the diseased blood of teachers, students, and families! How much more could they possibly take, these poor heads and principals?

I am continually shocked and appalled at the tone-deaf and out of touch missives written by those who are entrusted with our most sacred charges. The lives of children and workers who have no choice but to weather this pandemic and carry on are deemed less important than the vacation homes and retirement accounts of the over-paid and under-worked administrators who couldn’t be bothered to stay in the countries that employ them. Our industry, built upon the assumption that foreigners can somehow educate better than locals, has been exposed as the predatory and transient thing that it truly is. 

If I seem angry it is because I am. Working where I have worked, doing what I love with the people that I respect, has never been accorded the same level of consideration that other heads and principals have had. How many times have those of us working in “low tier” schools been told that we are lesser than, our students and teachers lesser than, simply because of their nationalities and the color of their passports? Blame then my naiveté for thinking that, during a time of worldwide crisis, we could somehow dismiss this damaging notion that those on top deserve life and luxury more than those on bottom.

The United States Marine Corps has a concept enshrined in every ceremony and circumstance: the lowest rank is the first to eat, followed in turn by the second lowest, all the way to the highest rank. It is this organization, distributing benefits in order from most-needy to least, that has become (and remains) the world’s most highly regarded fighting force. What would international schools look like if they embraced this ethos? 

In closing I want those who have remained with me this long to think about one thing and one thing only: When this pandemic hit, when our families and loved ones were dying unable to speak to us except though a tablet device, when our students and teachers cried out for leadership, where were you? Did you stand with these people that you claim to lead, or did you slink off cowardly into oblivion? I beg you all, ask this question of your leadership. If they cannot answer in the moral affirmative, they are not leaders at all.

Sincerely,
a Concerned Educator

Comments? Please Scroll Down to Participate in this Discussion

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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A Recipe for Disaster

With the spread of the Coronavirus far more severe than when distance learning was substituted for the dangers of classroom instruction, ISR can’t help but question the wisdom of International Schools summoning kids and teachers back to the classroom.

Are YOU ready to go back? Beyond some parents’ resistance to their kids wearing masks and a noted lack of social distancing internationally, there is much to take into account when deciding whether it’s wise to reunite with your students:

Can Your School Admin Answer the Following Questions?

• What happens if a teacher tests positive? Will they need to self isolate for 14 days. Is that time off covered? Will every student the teachers have been in contact with need to do the same?

• What happens if someone living in or working in the same home as a teacher (spouse, child, housekeeper) tests positive? Does that teacher need to take 14 days off to quarantine?

• If the need arises, how will the school find a substitute teacher willing to work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students?

• What if a substitute teacher is diagnosed with COVID-19? Does each student in each class they were in have to quarantine and get tested? Who is going to pay for that?

• What if a student tests positive? Does every other student and teacher they have been around quarantine? Does every parent get notified who is infected and when? Or will schools just send “may have been in contact” emails all year long?

• What is this stress going to do to teachers? How does it affect their health and well-being? How does it affect their ability to teach? How does it affect the quality of education they provide? What are the long-term effects on students and teachers of consistently being stressed out?

• How will students and faculty be affected when the first teacher in their school dies from Covid-19? The first parent of a student who brought it home? The first child?

Just like politicians, an administrator may employ broad, sweeping statements to garner confidence, yet fail to demonstrate an executable plan for achieving the stated objective. Imagine an administrator telling parents that the safety of their children is a top priority, yet no emergency evacuation plan is in place. Telling students to “run for safety when a siren blows” is not a plan for safety and certainly won’t be helpful in a pandemic. Likewise, there is no substitute for a solid plan in the face of Covid-19. Hoping for the BEST and failing to prepare for probable eventualities is a surefire recipe for disaster. Can your school admin answer these important questions?

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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.

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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:
__________________________________
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.
__________________________________
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.
______________________________
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.
________________________________
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)

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

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.

It’s easy to remain anonymous: Simply enter your comments below and fill in the name field with an incognito-type Username that will appear with your entry. Leave the Email and any other fields blank. If any fields have self-populated because you are logged into a WordPress affiliate site, remove the text and enter your newly-created Username.

Please Scroll down to tell Colleagues
about your School’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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

Your Job in the Shadow of Covid-19


If you’re wondering about the future of your International Teaching job, here are some factors to consider that will impact every school’s ability to keep teachers employed through the Covid-19 crisis.

This is by no means a complete list. If you have something to add that will help colleagues to evaluate job stability, please scroll down to participate.

Consider the following when determining job stability:

  • The number of expat parents who lose their jobs and the number of local business that permanently close will impact enrollment and job security.
  • Depending on the duration of the crisis, parents may begin to question tuition costs and seek less expensive, strictly online alternative schools and/or seek a brick-and-mortar school with lower tuition. 
  • Schools that launched and perfected a comprehensive virtual teaching platform may sustain a strong sense of community and maintain student population, as well as your teaching position (!), until the end of the academic year at least.
  • Schools with a high percentage of embassy families may have a better chance of survival because they’re not dependent on local funding.
  • Schools with multiple sections of one subject may let less experienced teachers go first.
  • Head and/or lead teachers could have a better chance of keeping their job.

Don’t Leave Your Career to Chance! Do your due diligence, ask questions, consider the points mentioned in this Article, and most importantly, Have a Plan. As seen previously in ISR School Reviews, there are schools that basically abandoned their teachers during times of political unrest. Believing such a school’s reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic would be any different is clearly not sound thinking.

If it becomes necessary, schools could enact Force Majeure. This would allow them to break the terms of your Contract due to extenuating circumstance. As such, a financially solvent school would award teachers a lump-sum payout and additional assistance as needed. However, financially fragile schools could simply shut down, leaving you stranded and unemployed in a foreign country and with no future employment on the horizon. ISR recommends you get the facts and plan ahead. 

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


Spread the word! To what extent is your school supporting its teachers during the Covid-19 crisis? Submit a short Review and spread the word. Helping each other make informed career decisions is what ISR is all about!

Suing Our School Over Coronavirus Policy

In a knee jerk reaction to the Coronavirus, our school director unilaterally decided to change the dates of our spring break. Threatening us with loss of job, he ordered all teachers to stay in-country during the rescheduled vacation. The faculty is pissed!!

As a faculty we feel he should have at least had a plan in mind to help teachers obtain reimbursement for money already spent on travel plans – airfare / hotels, etc. He did not! I asked him why leaving the country would result in loss of job and was told it’s because we may face quarantine upon reentry, leaving the school short on teachers. As usual there was no concern for our needs, such as flying home to visit an aging parent.

Had Mr. School Director thought to organize a whole-school faculty meeting and present a valid reason for the date change he may have united us as a team working for a common cause.  Instead, he sent out an email to parents and teachers alike and then made himself unavailable.

There is no question we all need to act responsibly and do our part to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. However, our director’s interest in changing the dates of our Spring break had nothing to do with public safety or stopping the spread of the virus. His sole focus was on the school’s profit margin. And… I have proof because I tracked him down and have the recording of our meeting to prove it. His attitude is quite revealing!

Our contracts clearly spell out vacation dates. That portion of our contracts has now been breached and the director refuses to address the issue or help us in any way.  As a faculty we have decided to seek legal representation in an effort to receive reimbursement for all lost monies. After all, his decision to suddenly change the dates of our spring break was based on a concern for profits with no regard to the teachers’ wellbeing of public safety.

I’d like to know how other schools have been treating their teachers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Surely the treatment we are receiving is not representative of international Schools as a group.

Thanks for all you do for International Teachers,
(name withheld on request)

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Survey: Will COVID-19 Keep You From Overseas?

Would you teach in a country on the brink of civil war? How about one experiencing long-term drought or a recent military coup? Incidents and events some of us consider dangerous and to be avoided are seen by others as exciting, challenging adventures.

COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus, poses a unique danger and could well deter some otherwise adventurous Educators from venturing overseas. Fatalities from COVID-19 stand just over the 5,000 figure, yet seasonal influenza claims 100 times that  many lives on a yearly basis. The KICKER:  There’s NO vaccine or standardized cure for Coronavirus and it’s spreading unbridled. 

To learn how COVID-19 is affecting the careers of International Educators, we invite you to take a short ISR survey. Results are available in real time and should provide the information YOU need to make informed career decisions.

Select the statement that describes your situation in regards to
COVID-19:

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Impact of Coronavirus


Living in far-off, exotic lands, International Educators often feel somehow exempt, even insulated from a lot of what’s going on in the world. Time and distance have a habit of providing a false sense of security that does not apply to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

To date, China alone reports 92,290 confirmed cases, resulting in 3,130 deaths. Iran, Italy, South Korea, Japan, France, United States, Philippines, Australia, Thailand and Taiwan have reported deaths due to the Virus. Yet this is not the complete list of impacted countries as the Coronavirus has reportedly spread to 66 countries and every continent.

ISR Asks:  What effect is the Coronavirus having on International Educators? Will Recruiting Fairs continue to attract large numbers of educators when the future of an offered position is uncertain? What about Contracts already signed for China and other areas where the Virus is prominent and spreading? Will there be financial compensation for educators who may find themselves jobless? How are those International Educators currently in areas with stringent quarantines and school shutdowns coping with the situation?

In an effort to keep each other informed, ISR encourages Members and readers to use this space to ask questions, recount experiences and offer sound advice based on their first-hand experiences.

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Your Embassy in Times of Crisis


To what extent can you depend on your embassy or consulate for assistance in the event of an emergency situation? The Corona-Virus situation in Wuhan, China brings the question to light.

Knowing what you can expect from your government in a time of need could ultimately save your life and the lives of loved ones. Americans living in Wuhan report they were disappointed with the U.S. government’s response to the situation. Many say they wasted precious time assuming help was on the way:

• “Information about the evacuation flight was difficult to obtain. They [the consulate] never answered the phone. An outgoing message on an answering machine told me to go to the Consulate website for information. It was dated.” 

• “Consulate employees and their families got priority seating on the evacuation flight. Charging non-government employees $1000 per ‘leftover’ seat was without conscience.”

• “I could board the evacuation flight but was told to leave my Chinese wife and child behind. I stayed in China.”

Becoming familiar with your government’s policies and its past history of intervention in times of crisis is a must for expats. As witnessed in China, assuming your government will come to your rescue could produce a false sense of security with dire consequences. Following 9/11, International Educators living in Pakistan reported that the U.S. Consulate evacuated ASAP, leaving them to fend for themselves.

Have you had the occasion to rely on your embassy in a crisis situation? How did that  experience play out? Did it elevate your perception of your embassy or consulate and give you a feeling  of security and confidence? Or? What advice do you have for fellow expatriates?

Sharing experiences will help colleagues make informed decisions in the future.

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