Covid-19 Information Centre
*Last updated: 15 January 2021
The 2020-21 school year is unlike any other and is demanding all of us to constantly adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic. The purpose of this section of our website is to provide the latest information on how we are responding to Covid-19.
We are continuing to update this information on a range of topics as the situation evolves. In the meantime, if you have feedback, please feel free to email me directly.
Currently operating at code: Level Red (major outbreak)
The precise operating details were not originally provided by the authorities when these scenarios were first published. Since 16 November 2020, we have been operating at code Level Red.
The following guide is to provide all members of the ISB community with information on how we will respond in the event that a student or someone who has been in close contact with a student becomes infected with Covid-19.
Step 1: Stay aware of those around you
Has anyone that your child has been in close contact with been infected with Covid-19?
Step 2: Look for Covid-19 symptoms
When a student develops any of the following Covid-19 symptoms: a body temperature over 37.5°C, a sore throat, headache, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, vomiting / diarrhea, a persistent cough, or eye irritations.
Step 3: Contact the family doctor
The doctor will advise whether a Covid-19 test is required.
A student with symptoms who has not been in close contact with a positive case of Covid-19 will, in some cases, be advised by their doctor not to take a test. The student will then return to school when symptom free for 24 hours without medication. If a student has more than one symptom or a fever, medical clearance must be provided before returning to campus.
The student should schedule a test as soon as possible and parents of students in the same class or contact bubble (ECC/ES only) will be notified by the divisional head. The siblings and parents of any student tested for Covid-19 are required to stay off campus until results have been received. If a student has been in close contact with a positive case of Covid-19, a test is required on day 7.
Step 4: Wait for test results
Test results normally take 24-96 hours.
The student will return to school when fever free for 24 hours without medication. All parents mentioned above (ECC/ES only) will be notified of the negative test result by the divisional head. If a test has been required because of close contact with a positive case of Covid-19, return to campus is only possible after day 7 providing a negative test result.
If the positive result is in a situation where symptoms have been present, the student will be required to quarantine for a period of 7 days from when symptoms started. The student must also be fever free for 72 hours without medication.
Any other ISB students or employees living under the same roof will also be required to quarantine and be tested on day 7.
Step 5: Impact of a positive test
As soon as a student is tested positive for Covid-19, the following actions will be taken.
All parents of students in the same class (“bubble”) as the infected student, as well as the class teacher, will be notified by email that they are not able to return to campus for a period of up to 14 days after last contact with the infected person or until a prescribed testing regime is completed. Learning will continue remotely. Specialist teachers, as well as students who may have had close contact with the infected student, may also be required to stay at home and be tested on day 7.
By a system of contact tracing under the direction of the local authorities, all parents of students who are confirmed as having been in close contact with the infected student will be notified by email that they are not able to return to campus until a negative test on day 7 is presented. Learning will continue remotely. Teachers who may have had close contact with the infected student may also be required to stay at home and be tested on day 7.
- 100% on-campus learning for all students in ECC, ES, grades 7,8 and 12.
- Hybrid Learning currently ongoing for grades 9 -11
- Masks required for all students in grades 1-12
- No food served in the MHS cafeteria. The ECC/ES cafeteria is open.
- One form to notify us of all student health related student absences
- Increased ventilation
- Assigned seating on all ISB buses
- Suspension of all on-campus after-school activities, athletics and private music lessons, with the exception of ECC/ES after-school activities.
Number of active Covid-19 cases
Number of classes currently in quarantine
Number of cases in the Brussels region, Week 1
Please fill the Health Related Student Absence Google form for the following reasons:
- to inform the school that your child is absent due to illness
- to inform the school that your child is absent due to Covid-19 related issues
Our Guiding Principles
As we look towards the new school year, the ISB Leadership Team and Board of Trustees is committed to opening the campus to the fullest extent possible, guided by the following principles.
- Our decisions in response to the COVID-19 crisis will be informed and guided by national experts and best practice in the field of international education.
- We will maintain our commitment to deliver an outstanding educational experience for all students, while protecting the health & safety of all members of the ISB community.
- We will proactively engage the community during the crisis as part of our commitment to continually improving our response and the ISB learning experience.
- We will responsibly plan for multiple scenarios, enabling us to shift or pivot with agility and preparedness.
- We will think creatively and strategically across divisions, with a constant focus on maintaining – and improving wherever possible – the ISB learning experience through all on-campus, distance, and blended scenarios.
- We will be ambitious in solving problems and creating solutions.
- We will actively contribute in meaningful ways to COVID-19 initiatives in Belgium.
Recognising our community responsibility
Whilst it is the responsibility of the school to deliver an outstanding learning experience for all students throughout the 2020-21 school year, our ability to keep our campus open will depend greatly on the actions of our entire community - faculty & staff, students and parents alike.
We all have a personal responsibility to do our part to try and stay healthy and help others stay healthy. We need to think about how we and our children are interacting outside of campus, as well as on campus. If we all commit to do what is required, at home and at school, that will greatly increase the likelihood that our students can spend more time on campus as opposed to distance learning.
Our commitment to continuous improvement
In March 2020, the ISB Distance Learning Plan was implemented in all grades. Over the course of the remainder of the school year, we adjusted and improved our plans as we developed a deeper understanding of how students in different grades best learned.
At the end of the school year, we solicited feedback from students, parents, faculty and staff that continues to inform our future planning. Throughout the Summer, we have listened to this feedback and, in collaboration with our teaching faculty, are making improvements and adjustments in all divisions to all forms of distance learning across all four divisions.
What you told us
- At the beginning of the crisis, ISB moved quickly. However, some felt that the initial momentum seemed to fade towards the end of the school year
- Distance learning was well implemented, but face-to-face learning will always be better
- Parents are concerned about the impact of distance learning on IB Diploma students, particularly in terms of their transition to higher education
- Time and effort required of parents for supervision of students during distance learning was higher than face-to-face learning
- Laptops are much better for distance learning than iPads
- The experience of distance learning felt different across divisions
- Parents would like to see students receive more 1-to-1 time with teachers
- Students with learning support needs sometimes struggled with distance learning
- Particular attention needs to be dedicated to ensuring an appropriate level of challenge for each student during distance learning.
What can I expect next?
- Information from each division about how these objectives and actions will further improve the ISB distance learning experience.
- Ongoing opportunities for feedback throughout the year as we adapt to the evolving situation.
“Our family faced the unique challenge of starting at ISB during distance learning. We were pleasantly surprised at how well our children adapted to the new school and learning environment… We learned, often the hard way, about the importance of taking a food or mental break when things started to be difficult.”
“I have to say that I was impressed as to how quickly ISB was able to launch the distance learning when the crisis hit, and I feel the teachers were acting in their best ability, sometimes going above and beyond their frame of work. Having said that there is always some room for improvement.”
Our Distance Learning Plan 2.0 places priority on three learning goals
ISB’s preferred approach to learning is on-campus and in-person, taking full advantage of the wonderful community and facilities that are a critical part of the ISB learning experience. In the event that the authorities or circumstances direct us to a distance learning environment, our commitment will always be to keep this approach as short as possible - in the context of safety guidelines - and, from the many positive lessons we learned during 2020, to adhere to the goals and actions outlined below. Further updates on divisional plans for distance learning will be provided over the coming weeks.
Ensure that students continue to make progress on grade-level standards and learning targets.
Maximise student learning and maintain high standards with developmentally appropriate student schedules.
The quality of synchronous* Distance Learning is enhanced and ensured by:
- A daily schedule that provides consistency and structure to the learning day
- A mixture of full class and smaller group interactions with teachers
- A daily check in with Personal Learning, Advisory or Homeroom groups to provide both social connections and opportunities to share celebrations and concerns
- Regular feedback to parents via emails, portfolios and report cards
The quality of asynchronous* Distance Learning is enhanced and ensured by:
- A balance of individual and collaborative work
- A wide variety of resources for learning including reading, videos, podcasts
- A balance of screen-based and ongoing feedback on understanding from teachers through comments on drafts, short check-ins, and assessments
- Opportunities for challenge and extension
- Opportunities for students to explore personal interests and demonstrate their learning
We have enhanced the capacity of our Distance Learning Programme by:
*Synchronous learning is online or distance education that happens in real time, whereas asynchronous learning occurs through online channels without real-time interaction.
Look back at Distance Learning in 2019/20
- How do we plan to reconnect with students and support them at the beginning of 2020-21?
- What if students or teaching staff are unable to start as planned?
- What are the options for families who do not wish to send their children to school due to health concerns?
- Are there conditions in which the school will not follow the advice of the Belgian authorities?
- How has the school adjusted its financial planning in the light of COVID-19?
- How is our enrolment this school year?
- Was the cost of ISB tuition increased this year?
- In the event of financial hardship, can I apply for assistance?
- Will the school consider a tuition rebate in the event of another major lockdown or long term distance learning?
- What investments has the school made in preparation for a return to campus?
- I am an ISB Alumni, am I able to visit campus?
- Where can I find other useful links and resources?
- How will we keep you updated with the latest information and updates?
- I am an ISB employee. Where can I find information relevant to my work?
To provide support in transitioning from distance learning back to campus-based learning, as well as ensuring that new students settle quickly into their schedule, time was allocated in the first days of the new school year to student orientation. This included advisory or home-room check-in opportunities and wellbeing activities for all students.
With support from our team of counsellors, in alignment with our Child Protection protocols, we paid particular attention to the following situations on campus:
- Students who are reluctant to come to school or remain at school due to separation from parents, fear of becoming infected, or refuse to come to school in general,
- Social and emotional impact on wellbeing and behaviour,
- General academic progress related to the Distance Learning Plan or transitioning back to campus-based learning.
We recognise that some families, particularly those moving to Brussels, will experience disruption to their plans. As a result, we anticipate that some students will not be able to attend school on campus during the first days of school.
We are committed to providing all students who are unable to be on campus, between grades Kindergarten to 12, with a learning schedule that helps them to prepare for their eventual transition to school and also connects them to their classmates.
In the event that the Leadership Team feels that it would be in the educational or safety interests of the community to divert from this guidance, a proposal will be drawn up and submitted by the ISB Director to the ISB Board Chair. A decision would then be taken by the ISB Board.
Any decision of this nature will be communicated immediately to the entire ISB community, along with reasons for diverting from the guidance of the Belgian authorities.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the school’s Leadership Team has worked closely with the Finance Committee of the Board to ensure financial and operational stability by:
- Implementing numerous cost and cash management plans
- Negotiating with all vendors while maintaining essential services
- Deferring maintenance and capital improvement projects not related to health and safety
- Developing multiple financial scenarios and related action plans for the school year 2020-21.
Notwithstanding this financial prudence, we remain committed to providing a quality educational experience for all students, equipping this generation of students, and supporting our school families throughout this journey.
We targeted an opening enrolment of 1350 students, maintaining our 2019-20 levels. We were delighted that the official opening enrolment exceeded this target with 1365 students.
Thanks to years of prudent financial planning, we also have reserve funds to draw upon, should we see a downturn in enrolment in the years ahead.
Each year in May, the ISB Board of Trustees sets Tuition Fees for the following school year. Historically, the cost of tuition is adjusted upwards to accommodate cost of living increases, as well as necessary capital investment. In May 2020, the Board voted not to apply any increase to the tuition schedule for the school year 2020-21.
For a full breakdown of Tuition and other fees for the 2020-21 school year, see www.isb.be/fees
The ISB Assisted Places Programmes supports families that experience a change of circumstances during the time their children attend ISB. Each year between 60 and 100 students benefit from this facility via a rigorous, means-tested process.
In 2020-21, as we know that this will be a period of further disruption for some families, this facility will be enhanced through funds generously donated via the school’s Annual Fund.
For more information, see www.isb.be/assistedplaces
The ISB Board of Trustees reviewed the situation at the end of the 2019-20 school year and agreed to offer all returning families a one-off rebate of 500 Euros per child.
Should there be further significant disruption of operations in the 2020-21 school year, the Board will return to this issue again in consultation with the school's Leadership Team.
Below is a list of some of the ways that we have invested in our campus infrastructure to support the health and wellbeing of all members of our community.
- Replacing all bathroom and kitchen taps with automatic sensors
- Installing stand-alone disinfectant stations at the entrance to all buildings
- Installing disinfecting handles on doors
- Installing a traffic light system for toilets in all buildings where students are present
- Installing ventilation units in all classrooms with no openable windows.
Below are a few link and resources that will be added to over the coming weeks and months:
Throughout the 2020-21 school year, we will continue to update this section of the school website with latest information on our response levels, as well as useful links and a summary of our Distance Learning Plans.
All communication about COVID-19 that impacts any aspect of life and learning at ISB will also be communicated via the ISB Director’s Letter. Individual school divisions or departments (eg: Athletics) may give supplementary information where necessary.
Health & Safety FAQs
- Is my child ok to go to school?
- Should my child wear a mask?
- What else should my child bring to school?
- Will my child be expected to go on field trips?
- What are the expectations for students?
- What are the expectations for teachers?
- What health & safety measures are taken on ISB buses?
- Check your children’s temperature each morning before leaving home.
- If your child shows symptoms consistent with Covid-19-infection, such as body temperature over 37.5°C, cough, eye irritations, fever, etc., they - and any siblings - should be kept at home and may not attend school.
- Report your child’s illness immediately to your doctor.
- Notify the school by sending an email to the Health Office. For attendance purposes, you should also send an email to your child’s divisional General Office.
- At scenario level Yellow, random temperature checks will be conducted each day on school employees and students. Anyone presenting with a temperature over 37.5°C will be sent home.
- MS & HS students must wear a mask at all times in classes and when moving around the campus. Exceptions are PE and some Music / Drama classes, as directed by the teacher. They must also maintain a social distance of at last 1.5m. In keeping with the current guidelines, students and staff may take their mask off to eat lunch and during outdoor breaks/activities, as long as social distancing is respected.
- Update 10 November: Students in grades 1-6 are also required to wear masks on campus. Masks are recommended, but not required, for students in Kindergarten.
- Masks must be worn by all students when travelling to ISB by school bus.
Each student will be expected to bring a refillable water bottle each day that is clearly labeled with their name. Bottles will be refilled at filling stations throughout the building and/or in the classroom. All other drinking fountains will be disabled. Bottles must be wiped down daily with disinfectant wipes. Bottled water will not be provided as part of our lunch programme in order to be environmentally sustainable.
- Students are expected to know and adhere to the safety guidelines which are likely to change from time to time based on government regulations. ISB will work through teachers and parents to inform students of the guidelines and any changes in guidelines that apply to schools and students.
- Students must wash/sanitize their hands upon entering the building and at regular intervals throughout the school day.
- Students who are not feeling well are to notify their teacher or the nurse immediately.
- Students should dispose of their used masks only in the marked bins.
- Students who do not comply with ISB’s safety and health procedures will lose their privilege to study on campus.
- Teachers will not come to school if they have symptoms of illness.
- Teachers must wash / sanitize their hands upon entering the building.
- Teachers will wear a face mask covering the mouth and nose for the duration of classes. In some cases, a face shield will also be worn.
- Teachers must maintain the 1.5m distance rule with any other adult and should avoid, as much as is possible, physical contact with students.
- Teachers will ensure that students comply with necessary hygiene measures. More specifically, they will encourage frequent hand sanitation and distancing requirements.
- Teachers will ensure that classroom windows will be kept open, when possible, for at least 10 minutes at the end of each class.
Update 10 November: A system of assigned seating will be implemented for all students using the ISB bus service from 16 November.
Our 2 bus companies strictly follow government guidelines for school bus transportation. These include the following:
Every person whatever the age must wear a protective mask in all our buses, including the driver. For the safety of everyone, access will be denied if a child is not wearing a mask; Hands should be disinfected with the provided antibacterial gel at the entrance and exit of each bus; Regular disinfection and ventilation of the vehicles; No eating is permitted on the bus; If the vehicle has 2 doors, users use only the back door of the bus; Social distancing on the bus is encouraged where possible and students are seated according to division. In some buses, the 1st row of 3 or 4 seats can no longer be used.
In the event that anyone on a bus route tests positive for Covid-19, all riders will be notified. Students in the same (and sometimes adjacent) divisional section on the bus will be asked to quarantine for a period of 14 days or until a testing regime has been concluded and no symptoms are present.
What if my question is not being answered here?
If your question has not been addressed in the information provided, please complete this simple form and we will endeavour to address any concerns in a future update.