German International School New York’s response to Covid-19
In mid-March, we had to close the doors at German International School New York (GISNY), but we were able to transition smoothly from regular classes to online classes as we had already integrated many online tools into our school life. We started preparing our teachers and students one week before the closing and so we were able to continue with our education right away. Our older students were taking online exams less than 24 hours after the building was closed. This enabled our 12th graders to receive their NYS High School diploma and the German International Abitur, which facilitates access to universities worldwide, at the end of the school year.
Find out how we created our graduation group photo with social distancing in this short video: https://youtu.be/NDx8vRNCI3Q
Our younger grades, which start at Pre-K, also adapted well to this transition. We used age appropriate online learning platforms and Zoom classes in combination with haptic learning, to avoid too much screen time and to engage with the younger students more effectively. The children quickly learned new technology skills and truly made the best out of a challenging situation at such a young age. Teaching the little ones from a distance is only possible with the help of their parents or caretakers. In these difficult times our wonderful school community once again showed how supportive and strong it is.
Even though our online teaching worked very well, we really hope that our students will be able to return to school in the fall. Our plans for the upcoming school year are based on three scenarios that depend on the NY State guidelines:
- Going back to online teaching and to our hybrid model for the younger grades.
- Introducing a hybrid model, a mixture between online and in person teaching.
- Our preferred option: Bringing all students from Pre-K to Grade 12 back to school.
For scenarios 2 and 3, we will introduce our new Nature-Based Early Childhood Educational (NBECE) Program for students in Pre-K and Kindergarten. This program will allow our students, ages 3 to 6, to spend the bulk of their school day in the outdoor setting. This program is rooted in hands-on learning, which supports the development of children’s cognitive growth, in addition to positioning them for long-term academic success.
Watch this video for a brief introduction of the Nature-Based Early Childhood Educational (NBECE) program at GISNY
Not only will our youngest students take advantage of our beautiful 20 acres campus, but all grades will be taught and will spend time outside as much as possible.
For students who are unable to attend school in person, our classroom lessons will be streamed, and all materials will be made available online to ensure continuous education.
We are currently preparing signage for our school building, classrooms, and the outdoor area, making additional spaces available, and generally putting all guidelines into place for a safe return of our students.
Let’s hope that the ‘new normal’ will soon move closer to the ‘old normal’.
GISNY is an independent, Pre-K through Grade 12 college preparatory program.
Our rigorous academics with an emphasis on science and math and bilingual
German-English education cultivate students to develop into curious, analytical, and conscientious global citizens. We are the only school in the tri-state area where graduates earn the German International Abitur and the New York State High School Diploma. German is not required for children entering Pre-K or Kindergarten.