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Start of the 2020 - 2021 School year Frequently Asked Questions

Published: July 29, 2020

Will IPS open for students on the 23rd August?

As published in the IPS calendar, the date for students to begin the 2020-2021 school year is Sunday, August 23. Teachers will be back at school on the 12th of August for orientation and training in readiness for the new school year. The school administration and management are holding regular meetings and have a full plan in place for all eventualities.

Having said this, we do not yet know if the Ministry of Education (MoE) plans for students to be in schools and IPS, along with all other schools in the Kingdom, will need to follow their directive. If the MoE says that schools may open, then IPS will welcome students on the morning of Sunday, August 23, 2020.


When will we know for certain if IPS will open?

The Ministry of Education (MoE) have indicated that they will make an announcement at the end of July regarding the opening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year. Only at that point will we know if we can fully open or run E-Learning.

How will the school open? Will all students attend all of the time?

At this point, we do not know what school reopening will look like until we have been given direction by the Ministry of Education. We have detailed plans in place for all possibilities and will publish these as soon as we have further direction. 


If IPS offers online E-Learning, how can we ensure that the entire curriculum is covered?

We are aware that the learning styles of individual children makes E-Learning more meaningful for some students rather than others. If we open using E-Learning, you will see that the work done by the school will now better meet your individual child’s needs.

We will have live classes each session, in which classes will have break out groups so that teachers can work with smaller groups of students to ensure understanding. Attendance will be mandatory to all classes and each child in your household will need their own computer as they will all be working ‘live’ and at the same time.

We know that E-Learning takes various forms and we have worked hard during the summer to ensure that the E-Learning offerings allow students to fully cover the curriculum. Many parents have given us feedback on our E-Learning and throughout the school summer, the school administration and management have worked to come up with an Improved E-Learning model that better meets the needs of our students. As an accredited school, we are committed to student learning and the continual academic progress of our students is at our core, either in school or through E-Learning.

If we have to use the E-Learning model, each student (except our very youngest KG1 students) will have  regular lessons through a digital platform as if they were in school. We will shorten the day for the younger students depending upon their ages and we will focus on the core subjects.


If school is open, what health screening will take place at the school?

The school management and health team have worked during the summer to develop a comprehensive  on at all entry points school each day. At the start of the day a team of temperature controllers will be in place at each entrance. The temperature will be taken of every member of the school community entering the campus from the Head of School right down to siblings in pushchairs and in their parents arms.

During the day temperature screening will take place at the gates by the security guards.


Will the busses continue to bring students to school?

IPS is not responsible for the buses that bring students to school and take them home each day. The Ministry of Education will give details on their regulations relating to buses bringing students to school but our advice would be that you do not send your child on a bus and that you deliver them to school yourself. We advise this as it is not possible to socially distance and supervise students appropriately in a bus settling.

We advise parents to bring their own children to school each day and to collect them at the close of school. We appreciate that this will be difficult for some parents but creating an unsafe environment on the bus is not something that anyone would advise.


What biosecurity measures will IPS have in place when the children are at school?

  • No early morning gathering of students will be allowed.

  • For KG to G3 students, student  not sure how

  • For Grade 3 students and up, families drop-off at designated points so that groups of students use separate, limited external entrances

  • Only staff and students permitted to enter the building

  • Maintained physical separation of groups of students

  • Temperature checks for all staff and students upon arrival

  • Increased handwashing frequency and staggered scheduling to minimize group contact

  • Physical partitioning of students presenting illness near an exit point

  • Handwashing and/or sanitization required upon arrival

  • Required physical distancing when on campus

  • Face coverings when physically and developmentally appropriate

  • No use of shared materials in classrooms

  • Library books to be quarantined for 72 hours after being returned to school

  • Lunch in classrooms and not in a communal space

  • Disinfection of the campus during the day with a focus on touch points by teachers, Assistants and cleaning staff

  • Deep clean and disinfection of the campus every evening


Can I keep my child home if s/he is vulnerable?

We recognise and understand that there are a small number of students who have medical conditions that place them in an ‘at risk’ situation. If schools are fully open and your child is in this position, we recommend that you seek medical advice about whether to send your child to school or not. 

If your child is in such a position, we will do everything possible to ensure that they are able to access the curriculum from home. Class materials will be placed online and audio recordings will be available at the end of lessons for your child to work on. This will require parental supervision to ensure that your child accesses and follows each and every one of the classes as the assessed work for each class will be the same for all students whether they are in or out of the class.

It is important to remember that unless your child is sick (in which case a medical note is provided to IPS) they MUST take part in learning either in school or through E-Learning. Teachers will be asked to keep registers during full E-Learning and check that work is completed for partial E-Learning when a child must access the lesson materials from home.


What will happen if a child or adult gets sick whilst at school?

Our team of nurses will check each and every child who becomes sick during the school day. They will check on the symptoms and determine if a child has a ‘regular’ illness or potentially has COVID-19. If the child simply has a cold, the nurse may decide to send the child home or permit the child to remain in classes. However, If COVID-19 symptoms are present, the child or adult will be immediately isolated in one of three temporary clinics set up in the basement for this purpose.

The parents of the child or relative of the adult will be called and MUST come to collect that person immediately. That person will not be allowed back into school until they have been tested for COVID-19 and found not to be carrying the virus or are suitably treated by a hospital if they do have the disease.


What will happen if a child or adult at the school is diagnosed with COVID-19?

When one of the nurses identifies symptoms of COVID-19 in a student or a member of staff, that person will immediately be isolated in one of three temporary clinics set up in the basement for this purpose.

The parents of the child or relative of the adult will be called and MUST come to collect that person immediately. That person will not be allowed back into school until they have been tested for COVID-19 and found not to be carrying the virus or are suitably treated by a hospital if they do have the disease.

If someone in your household is diagnosed with or has been in contact with someone with COVID-19, you must inform the relevant school office as soon as possible. We will send a health alert to our school community informing which groups could have had exposure to a person either with or a person who was exposed to COVID-19. We will not make public the name of any student or adult if they are in this situation.

IPS may need to ask certain groups of students to stay away from school for a certain period of time and if this is the case, E-Learning will be provided.

IPS is an International School but it does have to follow instructions from the Ministry of Education (MoE). There could be times when the MoE instructs schools in Saudi Arabia to close their physical buildings and we will need to follow these instructions, but we will continue to provide E-Learning for students.

Any modifications to the calendar will be sent to our community as soon as the decision has been made.

Having said all of this, our aim is to keep the school open and operating according to the original calendar that we published.


Will school hours at IPS change due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our plan is that school hours will not change but we do not know what model of schooling the Kingdom will adopt. Once we have further information from the Ministry of Education, we will publish detailed plans for parents and students.


Will IPS be providing masks and other PPE for all students and adults at the school?

All students and staff will be expected to follow the instructions set out by the government of KSA and wear their own mask when they leave home each day. Naturally, IPS will have a small number of masks available for times when masks break or get destroyed, but each member of the IPS community should have spare masks with them in their bag as responsible community members.


How will IPS ensure that students stay socially distanced?

Social distancing, along with hand washing, have been shown to be the most effective method of avoiding contracting COVID-19 and IPS will set out guidelines to all students and staff. We also understand that with our younger children this will be difficult to ensure at all times. However, all staff members will receive training and instructions to assist students to maintain social distancing and desks and tables will be separated with large X indicating where a child may not sit.


Will the IPS cafe be open at break time and lunchtime?

The IPS Cafe will provide food for students from the 25th of August. The food for any students up to and including Grade 5 will be in the form of lunch bags as currently provided to our G1-G3 students and food will be eaten in the student’s homeroom. For students Grades 6 and above, alterations have been made in the IPS Cafe and scheduling changes will be made to allow fewer students in the cafe at one time and to allow for Social Distancing. The IPS Cafe will not be open to students during lesson times.


Will students eat lunch in the IPS cafe?

For students from KG to Grade 5, the answer will be no, food will be provided in cold lunch bags and students will eat their food in their homerooms allowing teachers to ensure that they are socially distanced.

For students Grades 6 and up, food will be provided only at lunchtime in the IPS Cafe. Staff will be on duty in the IPS Cafe and Social Distancing will be the expectations for all of the IPS community.


All students will be required to wash their hands before they touch the food bags and tables will be sterilized before and after eating.


Will IPS provide hand sanitizer?

IPS will have hand sanitizer dispensers on walls throughout the school in addition to on each teachers’ desk. Hand sanitizer points will also be set up at each gate and each person entering the building will be required to have their temperature taken and to clean their hands with sanitizer before entering the building.


Will IPS provide bottled water for the students?

IPS is committed to being a non-single use plastic campus. For this reason, coupled with health and safety reasons, all students are required to bring their personal water bottle and must only use their personal bottle. The bottle MUST have the name of the owner written on it in permanent marker (we will have a number of these pens in the school offices).


The school will have a very limited number of paper cups in the offices for students who forget or lose their water bottle, but neither plastic nor paper cups will be provided in large numbers for students.


Will students work in groups?

Students in schools work in a variety of settings, sometimes at their own desks independently and sometimes in groups collaboratively. There will be times that students are expected to work in groups but teachers will organize the setting to ensure students remain socially distanced from each other.


How will IPS organise the recess times?

Previously, students at IPS were able to access a variety of playground spaces and equipment during recess. Under COVID-19 restrictions designed to minimize interaction between students may mean that we have to limit students to certain play areas.

We are waiting for further updates from the relevant authorities before a final decision is made, but our options include limiting spaces and/or limiting student numbers by staggering recess times. 


Will sports teams be able to operate this year?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, no sports teams will be allowed at IPS until further notice except in sports where there is no need to breach social distancing protocols (table tennis for example).


Will the school provide materials for lessons?

For health reasons, under normal circumstances, no school materials will be available for students to use and students are all expected to bring their own materials and not share them with others. In certain circumstances, the school will allow the use of materials (eg. Science equipment) but these materials will be thoroughly disinfected after use and isolated for 72 hours to allow for the safe use of the materials following this period.


Will students have access to art materials?

Art education is highly valued by the International Programs School and we have every intention to run a full art program. As such, materials will be available for students to use if they are single use and will not be returned to the teacher at the end of the lesson. This means that students will need to bring their own reusable materials such as pencils and colored pencils (full list will be provided by the Art Department at the beginning of the school year).


Will students be able to borrow books from the library?

The library is an important hub within any school with books and reading being the key to any child’s education. As such, we have done much research into how to operate our library.

Students will be required to wash their hands before entering the library and teachers will heavily monitor the students in the library. At the end of a library session, students will be required to wash their hands. 

Students may borrow books from the library but we understand how this may cause some concerns within the IPS community. In line with advice that the COVID 19 virus can live up to three days outside the human body, all books returned to the library will be isolated for three full days before they re-enter the book collection.