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The new normal: Updates from a reopened school – Frankfurt International School 

Greg Varner

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The new normal: Updates from a reopened school – Frankfurt International School 

After being opened for over a month, FIS shares lessons learned from the school’s and student’s perspective. FIS was represented by the Head of the School, Upper School Principal, Elementary School Principals, a teacher and 2 students.

Paul Fochtman, Head of the School, summarized the lessons learned:

  • Stories that make it work – there are a lot of little stories that make the whole story including the details that make it work
  • Everything you do is important – need to look at what worked and what could be improved and even the students are encouraged to contribute to this
  • Every step, even little, helps to reduce risk

The insights from FIS covered the following:

  • Communication – started with the community before reopening, used zoom to continue connection with the students, included videos to welcome students back and showing the new normal, and used upper school students as role models. 
  • Compliance – using signage to guide and remind everyone of the new rules and engage students about reminding each other of the rules.
  • Adaptation – have surveys to get feedback and change when things are not working well. Some examples were providing “study hall” because students were “zoomed out”, have in school classes only for half day per grade, introduce more signage and have monitors to support.
  • Room to Zoom – difficult to manage but according to the students they still feel connected, involved and learning. Classrooms had to be reorganized with “non-essential” furniture placed in storage, elementary school created flexible sitting environment with table & chairs, desks, yoga mats, etc., classes used outside space when weather permits, cafeteria sitting was marked with red and green circles where one is allowed to sit, signage for mask areas
  • Transportation– staggered drop-off and pick-up which has staffing implications.
  • Recess – provide more staffing for structured activities, offering sign-up for certain activities and use a beach towel as a way to show the physical distancing that is required.
  • Bathroom – this was the #1 concern for most parents before opening. Limitations were placed in the classroom – only 1 student per classroom could leave at a time and only 2 students in the washroom. Color coded circles provide a visualization for which sinks were available to use. 



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