International School of Arizona creates innovative model for return during pandemic

Business News | 31 Jul |

The International School of Arizona — which teaches a French & Spanish language immersion curriculum from preschool to 8th grade — is investing in interactive technology designed to create a virtual learning environment that reflects and allows remote interaction directly with what’s happening in the classroom.

For families that are comfortable with in-person learning, ISA’s teachers and staff are looking forward to opening the school for grades 1 through 8 on August 17th, with extensive safety measures put in place. The school has benefitted from studying other schools in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. east coast where their French sister-schools have already welcomed students back into the classroom.

The investment in a hybrid system using ‘ActivPanels’ offers an interactive educational live-stream solution that gives those parents who are not yet ready to have their children return to school, the option of on-line instruction that maintains a high level of quality and interaction. It allows the classroom environment to be fully replicated at home. 

“We are very excited to be offering a flexible hybrid teaching model. We reached out to our families and listened to their needs and realized that we had to offer both in-class and remote learning,” said Micheline Dutil-Hoffmann, Headmaster of International School of Arizona. “With this technology our students at home will be able to speak, ask questions and participate as if they were in the classroom.” 

For the return to campus, the safety measures put in place are based on CDC guidelines and ISA’s knowledge of practices gleaned from recent discussions with other international schools. These include the following steps: 

• Morning arrival that will include temperature checks and health screening questions. Additionally, student hands will be disinfected prior to entering the building.

Installation of HEPA-grade air filters in all classrooms and community spaces.

All entrances will have sanitization mats that are designed to remove debris and germs from shoes.

Class sizes will be a maximum of 18 children to allow for social distancing — N.B. Classes generally only have 10-12 children.

When students leave the classroom for recess or other activities, surfaces will be disinfected.

Implementation of a cleaning schedule for all large surfaces (stair handrails, doorknobs, etc.) to be disinfected 2-4 times a day as appropriate.

Children will remain with their class and will not mix with other children throughout the day, allowing ISA to be able to identify and notify families in case of exposure or potential illness.

The playground will be divided into separate areas and the children will rotate throughout the week to those different areas.

“No matter whether our students are at home or in the classroom, we want them to experience the full benefits of an immersion curriculum,” Dutil-Hoffman said. “This requires a very engaging level of instruction, which the technology will allow. The overall goal is to ensure that the focus is on the students, their education and their health, no matter where they may be.”

The International School of Arizona has offered language immersion education for the last 22 years. Classes begin at age 18 months and continue through to eighth grade. ISA’s fully accredited Spanish and French language immersion programs allow children to achieve bilingualism through play, structured language learning, acquired routines and the study of a second language covering math, science, social studies, music and art.  ISA offers a unique learning opportunity with small class sizes, STEAM elements and a diverse and welcoming environment.

For more information on the International School of Arizona, visit www.isaz.org.

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