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Steps taken to ensure maximum safety for our BIS community

Jay Graham
Jay Graham (10 posts) Deputy Head of Secondary View Profile

At BIS Hanoi, the safety of our students is at the core of everything we do. Starting from this week, we are actively taking prevention measures as Secondary students return. Here is what Mr Jay Graham, our Deputy Head of Secondary, has to share about the steps taken at BIS to ensure safety at school.

The Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, stated at the start of this health crisis that no economic gain would come before the health of the people in Vietnam. In life, we are what we do and those words from the Prime Minister have constantly been seen in the sincerity of deed.

Having confidence in the leadership of the nation where you live and work means everything in a time of crisis. It was the right thing to close schools when there was great doubt of the spread of Covid-19 in February and I am naturally risk averse when it comes to the safety of children and staff. I am even more confident now, with closed borders and having seen an unrelenting approach to testing, tracking and tracing of contacts coupled with uncompromising quarantine, that the risk is extremely low and it is now right to reopen. You have to applaud the Vietnamese authorities and its people for its strategy and their adherence – Thank you!

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In a world where safety advice and guidance can differ from one nation to another, sometimes driven by economic factors we feel it is best to embrace the science and to do whatever it takes to make our environment as safe as possible. The science states that being at a metre from an infected person for 6 seconds is the same as 1 minute at 2 metres distance. Therefore, we have used the absolute length and breadth of the real estate within the school:

  • Desk arrangements in every classroom and in the dining halls have been changed to keep everyone as far apart physically as we can.  
  • Assemblies are not taking place and sports activities remain compromised for the time being.

Whilst we are doing all we can to supervise students, re-arrange furniture and reinforce the message of maintaining a safe social distance, we are realistic of the challenge in a school context.  We are also aware that each and every day that we move clear of transmission within Vietnam, we will see more safety restrictions lifted and that thought is so very heartening.   

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We communicate with our community:

  • Parents have been reminded to check their children for fever and any symptoms of illness.
  • Students have been thoroughly guided in how to safely navigate this new school experience.
  • The students get body temperature checked and asked to use hand sanitizer after getting off the bus/before entering school.
  • Masks are unequivocally compulsory around the building for every employee and student. Students and staff will only ever briefly lower a mask to verbally present at a safe distance from the rest of the group.
  • Parents have been advised to provide masks for their children. However, a sizeable stock of masks is always ready to distribute.
  • Over 300 litres of hand sanitizer are in stock and ready to use in all classrooms/ common spaces around school. The process of using sanitizer is repeated before every lesson.

Our cleaning has been ramped up in its scope, depth and regularity.  From the outset, we realised the Covid-19 narrative would not be a short story and we set about sourcing volumes of chlorine-based cleaning products which are known to eradicate the pathogen on desks, door handles and in toilet cubicles.

We have listened attentively to government directives and advice and have incorporated this fully into our practice. We have added every additional safety layer we could. Our bedrock of confidence lies in the fact that transmission has seemingly stopped within Vietnam. Currently, I doubt there is any other nation on the planet that can state that.  

When the final speck of dust has settled on this episode in our lives and, when asked just how COVID-19 affected us, I hope we can say, we remained healthy and economically viable. The narrative is that it was unsafe to be at school and we all did our very best to make alternative arrangements work. We are now back at school and it is safe and so enjoyable!

Jay Graham

Deputy Head of Secondary