TAS adapts to a new normal with COVID-19


Updates to TAS’s COVID-19 policies are ever changing. The most up-to-date protocols can be found on the TAS website, as updated by TAS Communications. [PHOTO COURTESY OF UNSPLASH]

This semester, the Taipei American School (TAS) community is transitioning into a new era of living with COVID-19 as restrictions loosen but cases remain high. These updates are accurate as of Nov. 18; TAS Communications provides the most recent updates on the school website.

An estimated five to 10 students per division (lower, middle and upper school) have been testing positive for COVID-19 daily, according to Head Nurse Ms. Kendal Cheng. This is a rise from last year.

However, the general protocol for if a student contracts COVID-19 remain the same. Students who see the nurse with symptoms on campus are sent home with a COVID-19 test. If they test positive, nurses contact their academic counselors, who then communicate with the student’s teachers.

As of Nov. 14, confirmed positive COVID-19 cases will only be required to home quarantine for five days, followed by a seven-day self-health management procedure. Campus access will be permitted after completing the five-day quarantine if symptom free, according to Chief Operating Officer Mr. Larry Kraut in a message on the Parent Post.

The process for positive cases begins with the nurses reaching out to the family to see how the student is doing. The nurses then work with parents to ensure a plan for the student’s return to school, which comes after a five-day quarantine requirement.

This “chain process,” as Ms. Cheng described, has been tough on everyone impacted: administrators, counselors, teachers, parents, students and nurses. “It’s been a lot of work we did not anticipate,” Ms. Cheng said.

According to TAS Communications’s Parent Post, close contacts within a home, like siblings, are permitted on campus during a seven-day period of self-initiated prevention. Contacts are allowed on campus, subject to a negative COVID-19 test within two days of campus access, effective Nov. 7.

Since Nov. 7, TAS is no longer required to confirm the vaccination status of anyone entering campus or participating in school events, including on and off-campus activities, according to Mr. Kraut.

For teachers who contract, COVID-19, there are several backup plans. Either an appropriate TAS teacher would step in to substitute for the class or a substitute teacher would monitor the students in class while the teacher teaches on Zoom.

At one point in the semester, up to five math and computer science teachers were out with COVID-19. “Teachers worked really hard to cover each other,” Upper School Principal Mr. Andrew Lowman said. “It’s hard to teach four classes a day.”

Ultimately, as government policies continue to change, the TAS community can only adapt. “Things are constantly changing,” Mr. Lowman said. “We’re [always] trying to deliver the TAS program.”