Video: Here's how Dubai's Collegiate International School is ensuring the safe return of students
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Video: Here’s how Dubai’s Collegiate International School is ensuring the safe return of students

Video: Here’s how Dubai’s Collegiate International School is ensuring the safe return of students

All the adults in the school have been fully vaccinated and social distancing is maintained at all times, says the school’s superintendent, Bruce Major

Now that schools have reopened, how has the reception from students been so far?

The rebranding of our school has brought a new level of excitement in our community, especially among students and parents. Parents have reported a greater sense of appreciation for affordable IB PYP, MYP, and DP programmes, while students in our US High School Diploma now have increased flexibility when choosing graduation pathways with the additional advance placement course offerings.

This year has had an even better start now that many of the Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed and our teachers and students are now able to engage in many more of the fun and exciting aspects of school such as sports, after-school activities, celebrations and other events. Most important are the opportunities for student collaborations in the classroom.

What measures have you taken to ensure students, parents and staff feel safe coming back on campus?

Extraordinary efforts have been taken to ensure the health and safety of our learning community. All the adults in our building are fully vaccinated. That includes our teachers, security guards, bus drivers, as well as our cleaning crews who work day and night sanitising and sterilising the building. We’ve also encouraged booster shots for our staff as an added safety measure.

Every person entering the building must go through a temperature check and the school’s nurse conducts random observational checks for signs and symptoms of illness. Students have scheduled times for handwashing and sanitisers are used in between each lesson and activity.

Of course, having a well-established and frequently monitored social distancing policy is our greatest strategy for mitigating the transmission of Covid-19. We are fortunate that our students fully respect the need for maintaining proper social distancing and in many cases, self-regulate the practice.

To date, our school has not experienced a transmission with a school-based origin.

Have you renovated your teaching styles/facilities to offer a different learning approach?

At the core of Collegiate International School’s approaches to teaching and learning are the individual academic needs of each student.

Specifically, our skills-based model ensures every student has a personalised learning path that is monitored and tracked by teachers on a daily basis.

Students aren’t restrained by prescribed curriculum objectives or a textbook, but rather progress through learning objectives at an accelerated pace and demonstrated proficiency of at least a year and a half each academic year.

What steps are you taking to ensure students are better equipped for the jobs of the future?

Mastery of skills is just the beginning of our approach to teaching and learning. At the classroom level, our students are then engaged in “authentic learning tasks” in which they produce hands-on, project-based artifacts and evidence of their mastery of curriculum objectives. The ultimate goal for our students is the development of critical, higher order thinking skills that are transferrable to any content areas.

Our mantra is that “we don’t focus on what our students learn, we focus on how they learn”. When students learn to be thinkers they are then equipped with the cognitive skills necessary to access any curriculum materials.

This is particularly important as students may transition to other countries, or more importantly on to post-secondary colleges and universities.

The facilitation of cognitive development is essential to successful university study, as well as preparing our students for jobs that do not currently exist.

The pandemic has made several families extremely cost conscious. How are you supporting them?

Collegiate International School stands firm in our conviction that every student deserves access to a high-quality, international education regardless of a family’s financial circumstance. To that end, we are confident that our competitive fee structure accomplishes that task.

We have seen new schools and also remote learning platforms pick up pace as part of the edtech push. How does Collegiate International stand apart from competition?

Collegiate International School’s distance learning programme received one of the highest ratings from KHDA during the latest inspection. Our main objective was to ensure the continuity of instruction for students. Teachers lived-streamed lessons for students and focused on the core, essential standards for mastery.

In addition to academics – and this is what really sets us apart from competition – there was an intense focus on the positive wellbeing of our school community. Parent, student, and teacher wellbeing committees were established, and activities were planned almost daily to maintain a strong sense of community albeit on campus or at home. Individual attention was giving to students and families by teachers.

At CIS we believe we are exceptional in delivering distance learning – we have the technical expertise and the organisational set-up to deliver remotely if it is necessary. But fundamentally, we believe the strength of our community and the genuine personalised care and attention we give each and every student and their family is what marks us out from any competition.

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