It’s hard to know what kind of tone to strike when writing about a week like the one The Harbour School has just had.
Obviously, there has been a tremendous level of stress and anxiety as parents and teachers did not know what to expect and faced the potential of mandatory quarantine. There was some worry and downright fear experienced by those who were infected and their loved ones. There was the anger at perceived injustice about such a huge consequence befalling kids who were doing everything correctly in a school that was doing everything correctly. For many, there was the exhaustion of trying to address all the developing issues at once and the sense of being sideswiped when new information was announced without notice.
So it would be easy to be anxious, fearful, angry or exhausted.
But I think what I am experiencing most of all at this point is gratitude. I am grateful that the teachers involved are now on the mend or have continued mostly asymptomatic. I am incredibly grateful that we have a group of teachers who rallied around their students to offer support in addition to changing their classes when needed. I’m no longer surprised at our teachers’ flexibility and warmth, but I’m continually thankful. And they are still coming up with cool and creative ideas for the new situation, cheerfully suggesting things that kids in quarantine can do and ways that other kids and the community can support them. And of course they just automatically swung into helping their hospitalized or quarantined colleagues.
Parents have also rallied around each other and the school, communicating with us and each other, helping to navigate the ever changing demands of the situation, rushing out to get tests, offering advice and calling their Consulates. No matter what the ultimate outcome, what will always stick with me is the fact that over a hundred parents attended our zoom conference and offered helpful suggestions to us and to each other. This is a very positive community, as we have always known, but it is amazing to see in action. Parents then reached out to their own networks and we had help from all corners and professional groups in the city. Parents gathered data which they then sent to us which we could then communicate to others. There was a real sense that all of us were working together and that the worst outcomes would be avoided through this group effort.
As I write this all of our affected students have been picked up for up to one week of mandatory quarantine, but they are allowed to stay in hotels instead of the quarantine camp. This is because of the strong intervention of so many both inside and outside of our own school community who have pointed out that children should be automatically assigned to these hotels whenever possible because children in general are a more vulnerable population and often have other needs that exceed the capabilities of the quarantine camps. We may actually have changed the CHP approach to all children. So my feelings of gratitude extend to them and also to all the many people who wrote - including all of the Heads of all the other international schools in Hong Kong - to offer assistance and help when we needed it. We have been inundated with good wishes and also with practical assistance and advice.
And finally, a lot of people have written to express their thanks to the admin team here at THS who worked almost without stop for 72 hours. The Managing Director, Dan Blurton, ran point but could not have managed so many different strands of information, communication and production without the assistance of a truly incredible, enthusiastic and tireless team. People were not assigned work -- they grabbed it and ran with it. In a time of high stakes and high anxieties, people were calm, professional, communicative and quick. It was inspiring.
Last Wednesday I would never have imagined the hurdles of this week. Next Wednesday we will be largely past them. We’ve learned a lot about our friends, colleagues, students and parents in only two weeks.
And we know our community has a lot to be proud of.