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Huili fights the epidemic in a collective and steady way

21 Feb 2020

At the beginning of 2020, the outbreak of Covid-19 in China quickly escalated into an unprecedented national crisis.  As the old saying goes: “No egg can remain unbroken when the nest is totally ruined.”  Faced with such a severe situation, thousands of medical workers from across the nation volunteered to deliver care on the frontlines. Hard as the times are, every citizen has been making their own efforts to fight the epidemic. Under such circumstances, Huili School Shanghai also took swift and considered action to safeguard the health and safety of its pupils and teachers while ensuring that schooling can get underway as normal.    1.Responses and measures  Due to the sudden spread of the epidemic, Shanghai Education Commission decided to postpone the reopening of schools across the city on 26th January. In order to better counter the epidemic and weather this challenging period successfully, principal Stella Zhou took the lead to set up a dedicated group for prevention and control strategies. The leading group rapidly worked out an Emergency Plan for Huili School Shanghai to Prevent and Control Covid-19 which urged the collaboration of different departments, such as school office, nurse office, HR, operations, marketing, IT, etc., to tackle any emergencies and unusual circumstances brought about by the epidemic. Even though this situation occurred during Spring Festival, Huili School quickly began to check on the health situation of all pupils and staff, before finally confirming that the whole Huili community was safe and sound as always. The school office has been updating and summarising pupils’ health daily report while keeping contact with parents, pupils and teachers to meet pupils’ requirements that they may have. The executive master of Wellington College Shanghai Gerard MacMahon paid close attention to the epidemic situation from the very beginning. He frequently sent emails to all the Chinese and international staff, explaining the current situation of the epidemic as well as the measures that Chinese government was taking.  He also gave suggestions on daily life for staff who stayed at Shanghai and airline information for those who already traveled abroad and would come back later.  Besides these efforts, his emails covered measures that the school has taken to deal with any uncertainties caused by postponing reopening of the schools. Timely communication, together with rigorous and orderly operation in Shanghai, has reassured the Huili community that we are sure to rise to the challenge as we prepared for the reopening of the school with a positive and loving attitude. 2.Fundraising for the frontline workers The outbreak of Covid-19 became a huge concern of the whole country. In addition to monitoring the updates of the epidemic, Huili pupils wanted to devote their efforts, hoping that these efforts could enable better protection for the frontline healthcare workers as they carried out their dangerous work.  On 26th January, 12 house captains from grade 7 initiated a fundraising charity activity designed to allow for the purchasing of masks, goggles, protective gowns and other items for the frontline hospitals and doctors. Subsequently, grade 6 also launched a charity relay to give their support. Even though our current circumstances are being affected by strict restrictions designed to help us protect ourselves, this has not prevented our pupils from taking actions to help others in need. Encouragingly, their initiative has received an enthusiastic response from Huili pupils, teachers and parents, with a total of over RMB 530,000 being raised by 15 February, which was donated to over 30 hospitals across Shanghai, Wuhan and Zhejiang.

Pupils’ efficient organisation and execution of the fundraising activity really showed their embodiment of the Huili Identities: by being inspired, independent and inclusive, their attention to current events and their civic awareness.  It was also a practical demonstration of the Huili Values of courage, integrity, kindness and responsibility. Huili School Shanghai and Huili Nursery Shanghai combined with the Party branch, moved quickly to raise donations for Wuhan, contributing their efforts for epidemic prevention and control.  They have raised over 100 thousand yuan in just ten days to support the frontline medical workers.

Their actions let us see their responsibility for our society, as reflected in the proverb, “For the rise and fall of the country, every common person has their obligation”.  Rather than showing indifference or panic in the face of the epidemic, the Huili community has stood tall and shouldered its responsibilities. Huili people believe that although the epidemic brought many difficulties and challenges, we will work together to pull through hard times and China will soon overcome the epidemic and continue to play a vital role on the world stage.  3.Independent learning and collaboration   In response to the Shanghai Education Commission’s decision, Huili School was well prepared for postponing reopening but not putting pupils’ learning on hold during this special period, ensuring that pupils can continue to grow and develop even when they are not on campus. Guided by the core leaders of the school, academic teams collaborated to plan online teaching and prepare the necessary platforms for effective e-learning. The IT department gave teachers all the technological support they needed, while aiding them to optimise platforms and systems based on their specific teaching plans.  They also trained teachers how to utilise various online teaching tools, helping them provide better online teaching for their pupils. The senior leadership team, who focused on the operation of the whole school in this special period, also participated in the planning and perfection of the online learning programs while ensuring that they were all carried out smoothly. Their involvement in every aspect the work enabled school leaders to get a comprehensive understanding of procedures and up-to-dated situation of the schoolwork, which also allowed them to foresee potential problems and adjust their measures accordingly.  All these were helpful to counter the difficulties of the epidemic situation and make this new kind of teaching more flexible and relevant to the current environment.

Even before the viral outbreak, Huili teachers have routinely emphasised the need to cultivate pupils’ independent learning in their daily teaching, ensuring that the majority of pupils are capable of conducting effective learning on their own. However, independent learning became the main learning form during this special period. Moreover, environmental factors such as different time zones among both teachers and pupils also caused problems. Pupils in the lower grades also needed parents to accompany them and give them assistance in using online learning systems.  In conclusion, independent leaning was an obvious challenge encountered by both the school and those supporting pupils at home. Although the epidemic disrupted pupils’ original learning plans, Chinese and international teachers overcame many difficulties to explore efficient online teaching methods and minimise the impact caused by the outbreak. In the process of making adequate and timely preparations for their delivery of effective online learning, academic teams also tried to maintain their regular communications with parents.  They were there to dispel any concerns that parents may have and to offer suggestions on parent-child activities at home, helping them to deal with the inconvenience of living and studying during this difficult period. Ultimately, teachers regarded these difficulties as unique opportunities to advance pupils’ independent learning capabilities and encouraged pupils to take advantage of this. We were glad to see the perseverance and resilience demonstrated by our pupils in the face of adversity.、

▲Huili prepared textbooks for mail-distribution to assist pupils' online learning on February 20th.

4.Campus Prevention Due to the current epidemic situation, the school is temporarily closed for the purpose of pupils’ protection and is being managed in a closed style. Even so, leadership and operation teams have paid even more attention than usual to the security work of the school as they maintained the safety of the campus and safeguarded the health of all staff members. During the extended site closure, the campus was in lockdown with all staff on duty strictly following security policy as long as the lockdown lasted.  
  • All security staff have been equipped with personal protection items to ensure their own safety.
  • Staff have limited access to the school and they must leave the campus immediately after collecting their personal items. They also need to wear masks and show staff cards, as well as have their temperature taken before entering the campus.  Besides, staff also need to wash their hands with no-rinse alcohol disinfectant.
  • Public facilities including the gym, swimming pool and basketball court are all closed.
  • Any staff member who has been in Hubei or other key cities or has been in close contact with confirmed or suspected cases is not allowed to enter the campus within their 14-day quarantine, even if they have no symptoms.
  • Staff who are suspected of being infected by coronavirus should go to the hospital without delay and report to school nurses and their line manager. Fortunately, everyone remains well.
The operations department hascarefully investigated the potential safety hazards of all facilities in the school.  The property management company has thoroughly disinfected the entire school while applying a series of cleaning, disinfection and emergency procedures.  The nurse office purchased preventative medical materials in advance and set up an emergency isolation area on campus.

Fighting and preventing the epidemic is an unavoidable process that we need to go through together.  School nurses are in place to give suggestions on household quarantine and preventive guidelines through their communication with parents. They continue to care about pupils’ health status while offering parents timely clarification and guidance when needed. In the meantime, school psychological counsellors are also qualified to provide their professional help and reference materials for both parents and pupils. They can help with topics including, but not limited to: how to talk with children about the epidemic; how to face the epidemic; how to adapt to changes and alleviate your anxiety; and how to motivate pupils to think about their life and social responsibilities. All departments came together to draw up various prevention and control plans and policies while simulating responses to infectious emergencies to improve relevant emergency procedures.  At the same time, they made detailed plans to further improve the necessary equipment for public health on campus, as well as a full preparation for the prevention and control work that may be necessary when school reopens. 5.Contemplating for the future  This spring, the epidemic caused by Covid-19 has overturned our thoughts on many things that we took for granted.  This is a battle with the virus that no one can manage alone, for we are closely connected with each other. We, with all due caution and respect for the gravity of the situation, began to conduct self-quarantine and other preventive measures.  We are all leading characters in our own personal battlefields and should make every effort to deal with these unexpected changes and challenges. This epidemic disaster has had a profound impact on practically everyone in the Huili community.  It made us re-examine the meaning of life and to think about the nature of life and love.  We also realised that human beings should maintain a sense of awe and kindness towards nature, as well as a sense of personal responsibility towards society. After a short period of disorder, we have gradually learned to change and adjust with self-discipline and reflection in mind.  We have learned to take due responsibility for our own learning and self-exploration when the need arises.   We understand that it is normal to face unexpected social changes in our fast-paced global society. While challenging and tragic, this epidemic has also become an invaluable opportunity to show pupils that they can learn from even the worst disasters.  Together with our children, we can learn to observe, handle and reflect on the current situation as we move forward and do what we can to bring kindness and warmth to the world. All in all, what we have learned from this epidemic will continue to impact on how we think, act, learn and grow for a long time to come.