From his home in Madrid during confinement, Pablo Martinez-Diaz, former American Section parent and Lycée International alumnus (Spanish Section) designed a Mechanical Ventilator that does not need an Ambu Bag. His design is now available as open-source, in case anyone would like to build one, improve this design or embed it in a larger device.
Learning in Confinement
Our school buildings are currently closed, due to the current situation with COVID-19 and the French government-mandated closure. But in spite of it all, learning and school life continue!
American Section "Good Samaritans"
The American Section celebrates the many members of our community who have been doing good for the world during the coronvirus pandemic. We have been both inspired and humbled to learn the myriad ways students, parents, alumni, and former parents have been helping others in this difficult time. See for yourself in the slideshow below:
Audrey, Quatrième, Kitty, Cinquième, and their mother, Janet, spent the long confinement days cutting out and sewing ‘sur-blouses’ gowns for the hospital in Poissy. All three members of the Hart da Silva family were happy to participate in this "brilliant community experience."
Although commercial passenger operations between Paris and DOM/TOMs are still restricted, the Frenchbee brand new Airbus 350s, equipped with 411 seats, are now flying empty of passengers, but full of medical supplies and some perishable goods to the islands. American Section parent, Santiago Vizcaino, has been piloting these Frenchbee planes.
Pauline Tremblot de la Croix, a Première student, joined a group of 23 seamstresses in her neighborhood to fashion protective gowns for the Poissy / St Germain hospital during the Covid-19 lockdown. The first blouse was a real challenge, but she soon found her stride and was able to produce them efficiently!
Leo (2nd grade) and his mother, Eve, baked cakes for health-care workers during confinement. They also talked about this generous action organized by Quai des Possibles in St. Germain, which provided the teams in the Poissy hospital with a homemade snack when they had time to take a break.
The Coronas family has been quite busy during this time of coronavirus confinement!
From participating in the nightly clap to sewing medical gowns, grocery shopping for at risk people and delivering groceries for migrants, all six members of the family have been involved.
The Postec family, including Luc, Terminale and Philippe, Troisième, participate nightly in the 8pm clap to honor medical professionals and other essential workers.
Agnès Catton, Section parent, has been doing good for others in many ways. After starting confinement sick in bed, with what she suspects was Covid-19, she has been searching for ways to help her community in Orgeval. This included working at the "help-desk," receiving calls from mostly elderly folks and dispatching their requests for food and sundries to the volunteer team in charge of deliveries, as well as working to support local businesses.
While we were all in lockdown, my family and I created a video about plastic pollution for the celebration of Earth Day with "Heirs to Our Oceans," an environmental association fighting for education of young people and preservation of the oceans.
Section parent Christine Charcellay manages ELLSA, a non-profit charity organization located in Achères. As many volunteers were over the age of 65 years old or at risk, work teams, as well as the logistic supply chain, were adjusted to keep the distribution going on. Christine returned "to the front lines" to organize food distribution to some 50 families, as well as to 110 men at a local migrant hostel.
As a mathematician, I have been working with the international scientific community to model the dynamics of the pandemic as well as quantifying the possible outcomes of weak or strong lockdown strategies. From a scientific point of view, such an adventure is really amazing as the problem at hand lies at the intersection of several fields of interest: medical characteristics of the virus and possible treatments, sociologic concerns due to isolation, sanitary outcome of course, economic impact as well, algorithmic design and data privacy issues for contact tracing, artificial intelligence for anticipating… and in the middle of all this: mathematics for the modeling of the pandemic dynamics.
I was contacted just before the April staycation by a parent from the British section who lives on my street. She created four groups of seamstresses in L'Etang-la-Ville and the surrounding towns in order to supply the nursing staff of the Poissy-Saint-Germain-en-Laye Hospital with surgical gowns.
During the Coronavirus situation, I worked at the Beaujon Hospital, where many patients began to worry because of the increased media coverage of the pandemic. As part of the staff, we were regularly kept informed about the growing number of patients infected in our hospital and the various equipment shortages, but we tried our best to make patients feel comfortable and safe despite the omnipresent anxiety of contamination.
Lou, Victor, and Marin Jouvin have been "doing good for others" in a variety of ways. Writing letters to their grandparents, applauding medical professionals every evening at 8pm and baking sweet treats for caregivers working in local Ehpad and the Clinque de Saint Germain have become part of their coronavirus routine.
Pauline Grieb '15, and her mother Gabrielle, have been putting out much-appreciated drinks and cookies for their trash collectors in Fourqueux. Gabrielle has also been sewing gowns and masks for medical professionals.
Paul Rival '13 is currently working as a doctor in the UK at Southend University Hospital. "Unfortunately, many things have been difficult during this crisis. From having to do our very best to manage patients who are unwell and rapidly deteriorating with the COVID-19 disease, to seeing my own friends and colleagues fall ill and also working many long hours… it’s tough. The hardest thing I would say is having to deal with a lot of death."
Adam Cox '10 and Edward de Fouchier '10, both featured in the 2017 issue of Compass, are still living and working in Dakar, Senegal, where there is a curfew but no lockdown. They have been working on several projects that more or less directly mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
The Ney/Andrieux family has been busy during confinement!
Stéphanie and her daughters Zoé, Cinquième, and Emilie, CM2, have sewn gowns for the Poissy hospital and are now moving on to masks. The girls also did quite a few drawings that were sent to local retirement homes.
Lucien Buhr, Première, had COVID-19 relatively early. As it is assumed there is some immunity, he has been volunteering to deliver medication for a nearby pharmacy in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, bringing them to people who are fragile or who wish to avoid coming into the pharmacy.
On the night of President Macron’s announcement that schools would close, WhatsApp messages from our Middle School Theater students poured in, all with the same theme - "What will happen to our play performance?"
I also had a storage room full of Alice in Wonderland costumes and props to contend with. Huge paper mâché mushrooms! Five Alice costumes! Pink plastic flamingos! Stacks of fabric! What to do with all of this?
The American Section Learns Online
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way children are learning all over the world. You will find below what our faculty and students have been experiencing since the American Section moved all classes online, in mid-March:
Though this confinement period has been hard on everyone, many people have been using this time at home to complete numerous projects. I like others, thought of trying something and challenging myself. Because of my passion for reading and my growing boredom, I decided to tackle some of the books that I’ve been putting aside.
The commonplace adversity narrative states that in times of duress, we all harness the best of ourselves, discovering unknown reserves within, and with this new found strength, we charge across the burning coals of life, into a better place.
Outside, spring is in full bloom and empty, cloudless skies lure us out like sirens. As we watch, our rooms turn into cells and vitality seems to drain out of us like spilt milk on the kitchen table (and you know what they say about crying over it). Like the mythical phoenix we must first be ash in order to be reborn, then embrace difficulty to overcome it. Isolation and stillness are optimal circumstances in which to explore what lies within, and to evaluate the self with a distance and calm perhaps not noticed before.
Technology has arguably liberated and empowered us. In our school community it has been nothing short of a saving grace during lockdown. But our near-total reliance on the internet is problematic as well. What happens when there is no network or poor signal strength? Or when several individuals in the home need access simultaneously and there aren't enough devices to go around?
My experience in confinement has been quite the breeze, although it is a very different experience than real school. In my class, the students have agreed that it’s actually more complicated than school, as the motivation is hard to find when you’re stuck at home and have no punishment if you don’t hand in something.
There was certainly a bit of a learning curve on the online classes. On day one of online classes, I nervously hit the “Open Zoom” button, relieved and happy to see my Sixième students’ faces popping onto my computer screen. The first day went fairly well. Or maybe it didn’t, and I have conveniently blocked it out. But there has also been a time or two when it didn’t go as well, the mild panic when I opened Zoom and experienced a sort of lonely feeling, staring into my own reflection on the screen, asking myself after maybe a minute of silence, did I actually invite them to the meeting I so carefully created?
It’s been extremely interesting reading all the comments about ZOOM, which has given me some perspective on my own experiences. I frequently found myself nodding in agreement, or wondering "Huh! Really? That’s not my class." Founded in 2011 as a conferencing tool designed mostly for business, the recent pandemic has proven it’s no one-trick pony. In no time at all, it’s become synonymous as the go-to approach to online teaching, allowing schools an opportunity to provide a semblance of normalcy and routine for our students in anything but normal times. It’s proving to be the right tool at the right time.
We have all been confronted with change in our lives, whether it’s moving across the world, meeting a new sibling, or even just changing schools. These changes, big or small, good or bad, help shape who we are and help us decide the way we live, providing new challenges and obstacles along the way. We can either reject these changes, or follow a harder path and embrace them, if it is better for us or the people around us.
I always took going to school for granted: waking up at 7am, running to catch the bus, having my classmate try to explain the problems I didn’t understand, raising my hand when I know the answer, and even just having a normal school day. Now I have to get used to my new normal, which has its positives and negatives.
In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March is designated as National Reading Month in the US. We brought that celebration into our classroom last month to foster a love for reading and promote positive reading habits. Dressing up like our favorite book characters, reading in the dark with a flashlight, finding a special spot outside to open a book, and reading to our pets or family members were just some of the activities packed into our March calendars.
While I continue to adapt to working during confinement, one of my major issues remains motivation. I find that after spending a whole morning or so at my desk, I no longer want to get back to work to finish the school day or do my homework. I feel the need to get away from my desk and go to my next class...
It was Thursday evening and all of a sudden we heard the latest news from the French President Mr. Emmanuel Macron for quarantine due to this global Pandemic of COVID-19. I was like Woohoo! no school, no homework, no dance classes, no early waking up no…nothing…just relaxing at home and waiting … for how long, nobody knows.
Our foray into distance learning has proved to have many advantages. My classroom comes with its own coffee maker and mini-fridge. I can teach in sweatpants and slippers. Students can enjoy private chats rather than disrupting the class with their whispering. In turn, I can put my students into breakout rooms while I yell at my children to stop bickering.
Confinement has brought its own share of issues, not the least of which is the discovery that creating online lessons is akin to my first year of teaching. Gone is the cosy familiarity with the material, along with the ability to walk into a class and to teach, say, the causes of World War II to an appreciative (I hope!!!) audience.
I could not resist pointing out to some of my students, (after all, I am a history teacher and an amateur fan of physics) that when Cambridge University closed due to the plague from 1665-1667, the great English scientist Sir Isaac Newton went home and invented calculus, wrote the basic laws of gravitation as well as the essential text on Optics used for the next 200 years. It gives us some hope and aspirations....
Ten years ago, I walked into my first teaching job full of ideas about how I was going to be “different.” I had visions of perfect lessons, cooperative technology, happy children, and sunny skies. I thought I had it all figured out.
Overwhelmed. The overriding feeling of the first week. Having to adjust to using the various platforms used by different teachers, and feeling lost when the tools do not work on first try. At least the American Section classes ran smoothly, and provided me with a sense of continuity. Exhaustion by the end of the first week.
Being forced to teach via the tiny camera at the top of my laptop has made me even more aware of how much I cherish the personal interactions in the classroom.
With only a few months of school left, this comes, the corona virus. Now, I will miss my two school trips during my last few months of primary. Instead, I am stuck home with my siblings and parents.
Homeschool is an unusual and new way of learning for most of us. After a few days of adapting to this new “school” and the happiness of being able to sleep more, everything seems to have settled into some sort of organized rhythm.
I can't lie. I miss the connection and spark that happens in a classroom. The collaboration and lightbulb moments that happen when students are huddled over a workstation. Little hands touching poster board. Sharing, creating, learning.
As Covid-19 cast a lengthening shadow across the globe in the early weeks of March, I was lucky enough to be too busy with preparations for the Upper School play to give the encroaching pandemic much notice.
I may not come across as an evangelist for Zoom, as my colleague Mr. Speier did in his write up about teaching on-line, but I am appreciative of the tool that allows us to stay connected with our students in this time of school closures.
Over eight years ago, Thailand (where I lived) found itself inundated by a once in a century flood that closed all schools in Bangkok and beyond for six weeks. It was a reality check, as students, teachers, and parents all had to flee the city, evacuating for weeks with no end to the flood in sight.
Oh my gosh, ‘Zooming’ in PreK is more wonderful than I ever imagined. They were so cute that very first morning! As each student came online they were all so excited to see one another. I can’t imagine just sending home worksheets and never seeing their smiling faces. Everyone needs human contact, even if it is virtual.
When I first heard that we would be teaching our classes online, I thought, “No way...How can we do this?” I had this thought, not because I wanted a prolonged vacation, but because during our three-hour bi-weekly classes, we move, we collaborate, we share.
To echo what was recently said in a New York Times article, I think it is safe to say that Generation Z stands for Generation Zoom. Boomers please make way for Zoomers.
There have been many pleasant surprises to teaching classes online. Being able to have and attend class from the comfort of your own home, the numerous technological tools which enhance learning, and ultimately, a distinctive pedagogy that may appeal more to certain students than the traditional classroom, are only a few of many that come to mind.
How many of you grown-ups remember the 1970s WGBH TV show for kids called ZOOM? (Revived in the 1990s just in time for my kid.) Theme song: "A zoomah zoom zoom zoom zoom zoom..." Energized. Egalitarian. Explosive. Exhausting. Just like the Zoom show 2020!
Quarantined as we are, we have had to resort to a method of schooling almost completely untried, online schooling. In the very short period of time that our teachers have had to prepare, they have handled everything fairly well. While it isn’t perfect, it has made these days of confinement a little more bearable.
Our first ever whole-Section Spirt Week was a smashing success! Thank you to our Student Council and to the HRP network for their work organizing and promoting this fun and federating event. Hooray for American Section spirit!
Monday, April 27 was Crazy Hair Day:
Tuesday, April 28 was Mismatched Clothes Day:
Wednesday, April 29 was Sports Day:
Thursday, April 30 was Color by Grade Day:
Friday, May 1 was Tropical Vacation Day:
Access the latest official updates, as well as useful links and resources.
Co-Director Adrienne Covington was interviewed on France 24 in a segment about how schools are implementing online learning.
March 20, 2020
What are Section Parents Saying?
"Thank you to the incredible teachers and staff for never letting the ball drop and proudly showing the way of resilience: being optimist leaders and caretakers is teaching our children that when there is a will, there is a way. You are all amazing, thank you!!!"
"Thank you so much. We are immensely grateful that classes continue as usual!"
"Thank you 🙏 It is working well. The kids are engaged and like it 👍 You have been ready for D1 and more: American Section rocks 🏆"
"We, as a family, wanted to send the Section an immense THANK YOU for what you were able to do for our children over the last couple of unusual weeks... Of course, to our children's teachers: thank you for the Zoom classes, thank you for keeping students up to date on the curriculum, and even for giving extra support when needed. And also to the staff that is helping to make everything as smooth as possible for us: thank you."
"We love and value the dynamic and positive school culture that you all shape to the best of students and their proud parents. Many thanks to all of you for your support, diligence, commitment, dedication and emphatic care."
"Dear wonderful Section support team - BIG thank you that not only are their section hours maintained but this is providing structure in their day to deal w the rest ! 👍😉
Keep well everyone !"
Online Learning Resources:
Our librarians have compiled a list of quality resources to help Section families enhance home-learning during the school closure.