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GSIS Gazette – Issue #56

27th August 2021

Dear GSIS Community

It is hard to believe that I am reaching the end of my second week here at GSIS.  The time has simply flown by and I am very grateful to everyone who has made me feel so welcome at this great school.

It has been fascinating to sample what goes on here and to begin to understand the people and structures that make up our organisation.  This week, I chaired my first Senior Management Team meeting (SMT) and I was struck by my colleagues' collaboration, leadership skills and knowledge which ensures that they fulfill their responsibilities effectively and efficiently, so that other standards are consistently met.    I also joined the first Community Committee meeting of the new school year and again, I was struck by the tremendous work this group does and the active part they play in GSIS school life by providing very valuable help, support and networks.

After two busy weeks at GSIS, I would like to share my five key findings which, in my opinion, are the five vital ingredients in the recipe for a successful and outstanding school.

  1. The quality of the students’ academic and other achievements is exceptional.
  2. Our students have highly positive attitudes to learning, engage very well in lessons and are prepared to take a leading role in their learning.
  3. Our Faculty teams are highly experienced, successful and dedicated teachers who are at the core of what makes us special.
  4. Our Admin teams play a crucial role in the day-to-day life of our school by providing a wide range of admin support to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.
  5. Our community’s involvement and engagement at all levels have significant short and long term benefits, and are part of a successful educational framework.

Over the next few weeks as I continue to get to know our school and stakeholders more, I will update you weekly here in the Gazette.  I am looking forward to working with the SMT, Board and staff to make things happen and every decision I make during my time here will be underpinned by what is best for our students and their education in both Streams.

All in all, it’s been an exciting couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to many more highlights to come!

Best

Dr Dirk Bennhardt
Principal
Email


Dear GSIS Community

It is hard to believe that another week has passed and we are nearly in September!  We have just completed week 2 of this new semester and I’d like to share some key updates with you.

Bus and Traffic Update

We have been monitoring the traffic and bus situation on both campuses.  We had a delay on day one (18th August) at dismissal but we have been ahead of planned dismissal times since day two.  As shared earlier, there will continue to be some teething problems but both Synergy and GSIS are committed to learning from operations and strive for improvement every day.  We appreciate the support and understanding from parents and thank those parents who have shared their encouragement and feedback with the school.

Overall the traffic at the Peak campus has been smooth, as well.  However, we cannot deny the number of private cars we have each day which obviously leads to slow traffic and congestion sometimes.  We thank you for your full support in continuing to uphold the high standards of safety and well-being for our students.

ECA & School Resumption

Like you, GSIS is keen for our students to enjoy their ECAs and other activities as soon as possible, and we have made multiple efforts to lobby for that.  Let me share some context as parents are enquiring about ECAs and why some schools can run them right now but not GSIS.

First Announcement (2nd August)

The EDB announced its resumption guidelines to all schools, including schools offering non-local curriculum (our category).  Please refer to the text below which confirmed that:

  1. Schools can deliver full day face-to-face classes, luncheons and extra-curricular activities if both staff (directly employed teaching and non-teaching staff) AND students of the WHOLE SCHOOL achieve more than 70% vaccination rate more than 14 days before the school start date.
  2. If the number of students having received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for more than 14 days in the whole school has no yet achieved 70%, but the number of such students in an individual class level has reached 70% of the number of students in that particular class level, the EDB can also allow the schools concerned to arrange whole-day face-to-face classes and other activities for students in that particular class level.
  3. From 1st September onwards, all staff and people who frequently visit the campus (such as service providers: security guards, cleaners etc) will not be able to access the campus without having completed at least one dose of vaccine or negative results of fortnightly self-financed Covid-19 tests (nasal and throat swabs, not selfing testing kits).

The school could foresee this coming.  Therefore, we have been actively encouraging staff to complete two doses of vaccines from May with time-off support to encourage vaccination.  The school has also encouraged our community to do so asap.  We have also actively surveyed all secondary students to know where we stand for each year group, at different timelines, before we received instruction from the EDB.  

Second Announcement (3rd August)

The timeline set in the first announcement did not work with international schools as most international schools started in August rather than September.  Therefore, the EDB offered some flexibility to international schools as below.

The EDB has divided the resumption for International Schools into two sections: before and after 30th September.

From August to 30th September

All international schools should comply strictly with the resumption plan reviewed and approved for May 2020. Back then, all schools were not allowed to run ECAs due to the pandemic situation, we were allowed to run full day classes with staggered lunch (3 schedules which is very challenging for faculty, students and staff), at designated places and packed meals.  No ECA is allowed right now, based on EDB guidelines issued and resumption plan approved in May.

From 1st October onwards

  1. Schools who wish to continue full day face-to-face classes need to have at least 70% vaccination rate from all staff 14 days before 30th September.
  2. Failure to the rate, schools can only offer half day classes.
  3. To relax the stringent meal plan which is a huge disruption to class schedules and cleaning operations, the school needs to achieve 70% of staff vaccination rate AND (a) 70%+ vaccination rate from all students of the whole school or (b) 70%+ of any particular class level have taken two doses of vaccine for more than 14 days.
  4. There was no mention of ECAs and other activities meaning the schools should refer to the announcement on 2nd August.

What has the school done so far?

  1. We are proud to announce that our average staff vaccination rate is 94% as of now.  This is way over the EDB’s requirement and a great achievement compared to other international schools.  The number will continue to increase, we’d like to thank all of our staff for their active support!
  2. Our average vaccination rate for the entire secondary school for students aged 12 and above will be 75% by 16th September (14 days before 1st October).  The school is working with the EDB and will work out the best way for application for meal arrangement and ECAs for 1st October onwards.  Regardless, full day face to face classes from 1st October will not be a problem as we have fulfilled that requirement with a high staff vaccination rate.  
  3. The school has made multiple efforts to seek flexibility from the EDB to run ECAs from now. As of yesterday, the answer continues to be negative.  The EDB is aware that some other schools could allegedly be running ECAs and confirmed again yesterday that it was NOT allowed.  Our respective EDB regional office will get back to us asap for further clarity.
  4. Our staff vaccination rate for KG, GPD and EPD are particularly high respectively at 95%, 95% and 100%.  We have used this to lobby the EDB to allow ECAs for Primary and activities for KG given we have created a safe bubble both in PFL and Upper Building.

I’d like to assure you that the school wants ECAs and other activities for our students as much as our parents do.  We have pre-empted the situation and got our staff and community prepared as early as possible.   We will continue exploring this with the EDB and will keep parents informed along the way.

The weather has been on and off for some time, I hope you and family can enjoy a sun and fun filled weekend.

Clare Chiu
Managing Director
Email



Community Committee

Summer’s cooking class is back!

This time we will be making authentic Shanghai dumplings - just in time for you and your family to enjoy them during the Mid Autumn festival. Summer will demonstrate how to make the fillings from scratch and the technique of wrapping and then cooking the dumplings.

The event will be hosted online on Wednesday 15th September 2021 at 6pm. We will send you a list of ingredients to buy in advance and you can cook along with Summer and enjoy the dish that evening for a family dinner, or just watch and learn how to make it for a later date. Sign up via our online Google Form.

As always if you have any ideas which you would like to see or host, please do get in touch at communitycommittee@gsis.edu.hk.

Community Committee
Email


Schoolwide News

Share your children’s achievements with the GSIS Community
University Guidance: Upcoming Events
GSIS Week at Kukri – REMINDER

German International Stream

Kindergarten Corner

Dear Parents,

The first week of school has ended with much success as the children have settled in pretty well at Pok Fu Lam Campus. Our new children familiarised themselves with the school premises, and class practices have helped them understand and internalise the daily routines.

The arrival and departure of the school buses are much smoother and quicker as the children now know their entrances to the school building and are familiar with which bus they are on. Our system of an animal named bus route marks their assembly point for the bus going home. These set rules and routines help the children become more independent, and for continuity, we have the same staff members to assist with the dismissal, and in addition, there are always staff members at hand to help the bus teachers and children.

To establish a collaborative and better relationship between the parents and the school, it is essential that you, as parents, also get to know your child's class teachers as much as for us to better understand your family background and culture, which influences your child. Therefore, we are offering online "Getting to know you and your child/Meet the Teachers" sessions in the next few weeks. We are sure you have many questions, and we are looking forward to learning more about your child. In this regard, an invitation has already been sent to Kindergarten English International Stream parents.

In the meantime, the Kindergarten German International Stream parents will receive further information from their child's class teachers. In regards to German language acquisition and overall development, Frau Kronenbitter (German as a second language) and Frau Jerisch (Learning Support) will offer individual online consultations.

Please mark this important date and event in your diary regarding our Parents' Evening and the Election of Parents' Representatives (KPR) on Thursday, September 9. Due to the existing pandemic measures, this parent event will be conducted online.

The borrowing of books from our PFL campus library as well as Seesaw, as an information platform, will commence after the parents' evening.

You will receive more information about the Parents' Evening and the start of borrowing library books in the next issue of the Gazette.

You will find the announcement of the free flu vaccination for your child under Updates and Announcements.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Sophie Burdel
Head of Kindergarten
Email
Eileen Mah
Deputy Head of Kindergarten and Deputy Child Protection Officer Pok Fu Lam Campus
Email

Departmental News and Announcements

KG, GPD & EPD Pok Fu Lam Campus – 2021/22 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme

Primary Corner

Dear Parents,

Our first full week of school has gone very smoothly, despite some rain during dismissal! The children, and teachers, have become more familiar with the routines and seem to be adjusting to their full days of learning activities. Remember that children ages 6-13 need 9-11 hours of sleep per night so that they are ready to learn at 7:35!

Influenza Vaccination Programme

In order to keep our community healthy, we will continue to offer our annual influenza vaccination programme. Please see below for more information. 

Also, in last week’s Gazette, Juliana Lau our school nurse, posted information about Student Health Service/Student Dental Service. If you missed this announcement, please look at Issue #55.

Class homepage

We are excited to announce that from September 3 on we will launch our brand new class homepages. You will find the links to these homepages and the details on how to log in in the Gazette from next week. All class teachers will share general information about what happened in school and what is planned every month. In addition you will also find photos of the students and our events on this site.

I am looking forward to sharing that with you. 

Have a wonderful weekend.

Priska Erni
Head of German Primary Department
Email
Inga Riedel-Narayan
Deputy Head of German Primary Department
Email

Departmental News and Announcements

GPD / EPD Pok Fu Lam Campus – Student Health Service / Student Dental Service 2021-22
KG, GPD & EPD Pok Fu Lam Campus – 2021/22 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme
GPD/EPD Peak Campus – 2021/22 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme

Secondary Corner

Departmental News and Announcements

Cafeteria Online Orders – September

English International Stream

From Head of Stream

Dear Parents

At GSIS, we provide a home of educational excellence within a vibrant, creative and caring community

What attributes does an organisation need to recognise and nurture in order to become a ‘caring community’?

Over recent years, schools have had to become more responsive to the mental health of students, staff, parents and all members of the community. The pandemic has brought this into sharp focus as we experienced the impact of social restrictions, quarantines and online learning. Our increasing awareness of the impact of stress, anxiety, depression, isolation on peers, colleagues and family members has guided us to develop more robust support systems through increasing the number of school counsellors, ensuring further opportunities for student voice and supporting colleagues and families who might be struggling to cope.

We are keenly aware that emotional and social disruption is as major an impediment to student learning as it is to functioning in the adult world. Our teachers have been closely monitoring pupils' wellbeing since school has reopened and the Student Support and counselling teams have been on hand to provide strategies for support and re-engagement. We are fortunate to have a highly qualified group of pastoral and learning specialists leading in this area across the English International Stream and we will continue to improve in this area as we move beyond the limitations of recent months.

Student Support Counselling Pastoral Leadership
Gretchen Abasolo
Student Support Kindergarten
Paige Marquard
EPD Counsellor
Susan Hood
Deputy Head: Pastoral
Rob Davidson
Head of Student Support (EPD)
Tanya Schindler
ESD Counsellor
Jessica McCarroll
Head of Year 7 & Year 6 Transition
Larissa Chan
Student Support EPD
Laura Maddison
ESD Counsellor
Chris Hoskins
Head of Years 8 & 9
Nathalie Comty
Head of Student Support (ESD)
Paula Wymond
Head of Years 10 & 11
Hannah Booth
Head of Years 12 & 13

In the English Stream Kindergarten, Eileen Mah, has responsibility for pastoral care, supported by the class teachers, and in the EPD Kim Cunningham has overall responsibility for pastoral care supported by class teachers and specialists.

In addition to these internal systems we will also be working to sustain and improve on the following commitments over the coming year, so please do hold us accountable if you feel we are not meeting them!

Transparency

We will continue to do our best to define issues as they arise and to explain our decision-making. The Principal and MD will continue to communicate directly with the community on matters of urgency but The Gazette will be the place where we will communicate initiatives and key ideas. We were very pleased that readership increased last week and we hope this will improve further over the year, so tell your friends!

Sharing accurate information

As we all know, information is highly accessible these days, from a range of sources, but we need to ensure that the right information is being shared for our community. There are numerous schools in Hong Kong who will be making decisions and taking actions based on different criteria, we don’t all fit into the same parameters. By all means challenge us if our decisions do not meet with what other schools might be doing, but be prepared to listen to our rationale that will have the best interests of students at its core.

We have all probably shared facebook posts that have proven not to be accurate in the past but we need to exercise the same caution on social media platforms. We teach our students to be critical thinkers when reviewing information online:

  • consider its purpose and intended audience
  • judge its authority and credibility
  • establish its accuracy and reliability
  • evaluate its level of objectivity or bias

Collaboration

We will continue to encourage participation and inclusion in all areas of the school, particularly through the KPR system but also through developing student voice and staff representation. Over the next few months we hope to engage more with the community in a number of key development areas so watch this space . . .

Building Trust

As a school we have an open-door policy and welcome direct feedback from students, parents and staff. I am particularly happy to meet with parents face-to-face, online or over the phone to discuss concerns or issues. We share a responsibility to build a sense of purpose, to create a positive learning environment, to practice gratitude and to offer encouragement and praise often. This last feature is a two-way process so do take time to acknowledge commitment from your children and from their teachers. Positive, meaningful communication at all levels can supercharge an organisation and take it to even greater heights.

Have a great week!

Simon Misso-Veness
Deputy Principal / Head of English International Stream
Email


Kindergarten Corner

Dear Parents,

The first week of school has ended with much success as the children have settled in pretty well at Pok Fu Lam Campus. Our new children familiarised themselves with the school premises, and class practices have helped them understand and internalise the daily routines.

The arrival and departure of the school buses are much smoother and quicker as the children now know their entrances to the school building and are familiar with which bus they are on. Our system of an animal named bus route marks their assembly point for the bus going home. These set rules and routines help the children become more independent, and for continuity, we have the same staff members to assist with the dismissal, and in addition, there are always staff members at hand to help the bus teachers and children.

To establish a collaborative and better relationship between the parents and the school, it is essential that you, as parents, also get to know your child's class teachers as much as for us to better understand your family background and culture, which influences your child. Therefore, we are offering online "Getting to know you and your child/Meet the Teachers" sessions in the next few weeks. We are sure you have many questions, and we are looking forward to learning more about your child. In this regard, an invitation has already been sent to Kindergarten English International Stream parents.

In the meantime, the Kindergarten German International Stream parents will receive further information from their child's class teachers. In regards to German language acquisition and overall development, Frau Kronenbitter (German as a second language) and Frau Jerisch (Learning Support) will offer individual online consultations.

Please mark this important date and event in your diary regarding our Parents' Evening and the Election of Parents' Representatives (KPR) on Thursday, September 9. Due to the existing pandemic measures, this parent event will be conducted online.

The borrowing of books from our PFL campus library as well as Seesaw, as an information platform, will commence after the parents' evening.

You will receive more information about the Parents' Evening and the start of borrowing library books in the next issue of the Gazette.

You will find the announcement of the free flu vaccination for your child under Updates and Announcements. In addition, the Calendar of Events for the Kindergarten English International Stream 2021/2022 is added to the list as this was mistakenly not uploaded last week.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Sophie Burdel
Head of Kindergarten
Email
Eileen Mah
Deputy Head of Kindergarten and Deputy Child Protection Officer Pok Fu Lam Campus
Email
Attachments
https://www.gsis.edu.hk/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Calendar-Events-and-Dates-for-Kindergarten-EIS-Parents-2021-22-EKG-1.pdf

Departmental News and Announcements

KG, GPD & EPD Pok Fu Lam Campus – 2021/22 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme

Primary Corner

Dear Parents,

Our first full week of school has gone very smoothly, despite some rain during dismissal! The children, and teachers, have become more familiar with the routines and seem to be adjusting to their full days of learning activities. Remember that children ages 6-13 need 9-11 hours of sleep per night so that they are ready to learn at 7:35!

Influenza Vaccination Program

In order to keep our community healthy, we will continue to offer our annual influenza vaccination program. Please see below for more information. Also, in last week’s Gazette, Juliana Lau posted information about Student Health Service/Student Dental Service. If you missed this announcement, please look at Issue #55.

Google Sites in the Gazette

Last week our class teachers shared their Google Sites with you via email. Starting this week you can find all of the EPD teacher Google Site links within the Gazette. Within these Google Sites you will find curriculum overviews, timetables, photos, dates, and links to google classrooms. This can be your first stop for any questions about what is happening in the EPD! Since we have provided student photos, these google sites are password protected with your child’s login information. If a question is not answered in the google site, please contact the teacher directly and he/she will be happy to assist you.

Communication

We will be holding regular coffee mornings for an additional avenue to ensure information is flowing between home and school. Our first coffee morning is scheduled for 21 September, and further information will be shared as we get closer to that date. Please don’t wait for the coffee mornings to ask questions. All of the teachers, Donna, and I are happy to communicate with you directly. Send us an email and we will be happy to clarify any questions you may have!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Kim Cunningham
Head of English Primary Department
Email
Donna Morley
Deputy Head of English Primary Department
Email

Departmental News and Announcements

GPD / EPD Pok Fu Lam Campus – Student Health Service / Student Dental Service 2021-22
KG, GPD & EPD Pok Fu Lam Campus – 2021/22 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme
GPD/EPD Peak Campus – 2021/22 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach (Free of Charge) Programme

Looking for what's been going on in class this week?

Secondary Corner

Departmental News and Announcements

Cafeteria Online Orders – September

Student Achievements

Junior Squash Champion Ranked #1 in Hong Kong
Readathon for SoCo
U7 Inline Speedskating Achievement
Youth Advisory Council

THIS WEEK IN IMAGES

[sgdg path="Gazette/This Weeks Happenings/Gazette 56"]

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