Communication on the impact of COVID-19 outbreak in European Schools

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European schools system

European schools system is like a never-ending maze of paperwork and bureaucracy.

It’s as if they believe that the more forms you fill out, the smarter you become. Secretary general and deputy secretary general are too busy worrying about their pensions and summer vacations to actually produce anything useful.

It’s a system where children are just tiny cogs in a big bureaucratic machine, and education takes a backseat to administrative tasks.

It’s time for a major overhaul, because right now, the European schools system is about as effective as a chocolate teapot.

On 27.03.2020 another communication was sent by the Secretary General of the European Schools, Mr. Giancarlo Marcheggiano.

It has been two weeks since it was decided to suspend the obligatory regular attendance of pupils (Article 30 of the General Rules of the European Schools – Ref. 2014-03-D-14) and to suspend lessons “in situ” in all European Schools starting from the 16th March 2020. The European Schools in Varese and Munich had been forced to apply the same measures as of 24 February and 9 March 2020 respectively.

We have done our utmost to support teachers, pupils and parents to deal with this challenging situation

We are also really grateful to all those who have done their utmost in order to guarantee that the education of our pupils could continue, under the present challenging conditions.

Most of the schools have launched surveys involving the teaching staff, parents and pupils. The outcome is reassuring overall. We also understand that there remains room for improvement and areas where we can learn from each other. The Office of the Secretary- General of the European Schools is promoting this exchange among schools and has provided guidance in distance teaching and learning. This guidance may be updated in the light of the feedback we receive.

We also have to address questions linked to school calendar until the end of the school year 2019/20.

For the time being all European Schools have suspended the obligatory regular attendance of pupils and suspended lessons in situ until 19th April 2020. A further prolongation is very likely and a decision will be taken by the Directors, upon advice from the Secretary General

and in close consultation with the EU Commission, by the end of the coming week at the latest.

Consequently, we need to prepare for two scenarios:

  • a ‘reopening’ of the schools, later in the second semester or
  • a potential prolongation of the current situation until the end of the 2019/20 school year.

We are working in close consultation with the schools on these two scenarios and on Action Plans to deal with risks linked to both scenarios. The main aspects are the tests and examinations in the second semester of the current school year, the promotion of students to the following year and the European Baccalaureate (EB).

For the time being, we continue to prepare for the EB session as foreseen in the General Rules and the Arrangements for implementing the Regulations for the European Baccalaureate, and within the agreed calendar. However, we are aware that we need to be prepared for a scenario where the schools will not open their doors as planned after the Easter holidays or indeed possibly not before the end of the school year.

In particular with respect to the EB we will provide the Board of Governors of the European Schools at its meeting starting from 15th to 17th April 2020 with concrete proposals, if the scenario dictates that distance teaching and learning would have to be prolonged for a substantial time and potentially until the end of the school year.

These proposals to the Board of Governors will have to take into consideration the approach envisaged by the different Member States with respect to their national Baccalaureate or school-leaving examinations. Our schools are based on the national systems of different Member States and we should aim at being in line with these systems and also in guaranteeing equal treatment within our system. We will also keep in mind that our students should not face unfavourable treatment, in comparison to the majority of pupils in the Member States’ educational systems.

Please be reassured that the envisaged decisions will take into consideration, in first place, the health, well-being and safety of our pupils, parents and staff.

Moreover, we will have to ensure that these decisions will support a fair and transparent EB session for all S7 students in all the 13 European Schools and also in the Accredited European Schools providing the EB.

These decisions have also to limit to the minimum any possible negative impact on the assessment of our pupils, in comparison to previous year groups.

Finally, we will have to keeping mind that our graduates will not face any disadvantage when applying to a University, in particular in EU Member States and the United Kingdom.

I appeal for your understanding and patience that we cannot be more precise on the measures to be taken for the moment as I cannot prejudice any decision of the Board of Governors. We will do our utmost to ensure that any decision of the Board of Governors will guarantee the principles highlighted above.I will inform you about further developments and decisions in due time and wish you and your families all the best.

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Aim of the European Schools

Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.

Marcel Decombis, Head of European School, Luxembourg between 1953 and 1960