A Series of Cancellations: Interim and COVID-19

As we walk off campus today, not knowing how long this phase of “distance-learning” will last, students and teachers look back on a series of eagerly anticipated events that will no longer go on. From third season IASAS to the PTA International Fair, the impact of the Novel Coronavirus has been felt by everyone in our school community. The biggest cancellation of all? Interim Semester.

High School principal, Stephen Ly (left) along with interim coordinator, Dan Skimin, sat with First Take to give a tell-all interview on the steps that led to the decision to cancel Interim Semester.

At the time of writing, CNN estimates there have been over 168,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus across the world. The virus, thought to have originated in the Hubei Province of China, has taken around 6,600 lives. Precautions have been taken all over the world, with large gatherings banned and grocery stores filled with panic buyers. The SAS community has not been exempt from the impact of the virus the WHO has labelled a “pandemic.”

COVID-19, often referred to as the Coronavirus has taken the lives of many in mainland China and is starting to diffuse into more regions from the United States to Iran. (CNN)

Interim Semester has a special place in the hearts of the educators and students alike, with most students giving the week a spot on their highlights of high school. It’s absence has left a hole in the high school calendar but those who made this decision assure us it was not made lightly. In an exclusive interview with First Take, Mr. Ly and interim coordinator, Dan Skimin, spoke about the factors that led them to making the difficult decision. In response to a question posed by Kavin Kapoor, SAS student president, regarding the process that the school took before making the decision, Mr. Ly spoke about the difficulty of the decision. “I’ve made many decisions in my life as an educator and this is one of the hardest”, he remarked. “I spoke with kids, I spoke with educators, we spoke with experts in the field of international travel and health. After talking to those people, as well as people from peer schools, we then came to the decision that we did.” Junior, Becky Schlesinger, questioned the pair on what their personal feelings were on the decision as a whole to which Mr. Ly responded, “I have to wake up in the morning, look myself in the mirror and ask if I really care about kids. I really feel this decision was made from a position for care for each of you.”

“I have to wake up in the morning, look myself in the mirror and ask if I really care about kids. I really feel this decision was made from a position for care for each of you.”

Principal, Mr. Ly, shared his personal take on this difficult decision.

Mr. Skimin, interim coordinator and math teacher at SAS, has a special place in his heart for the week we call Interim Semester. Students and parents alike will be familiar with his emails regarding the registration process, the payment portals and everything else that planning a trip takes. “We spend a year planning Interim Semester to make sure we provide all the students with the wonderful educational opportunities around the world. Every year it is great for me to hear the stories from my colleagues and students they got from Interim Semester.” Despite this, Mr. Skimin echoes the high school principal in his belief that the right decision was made. “I feel good about the decision. Its the right decision to make with the information we have. However I am gutted by the outcome.”

Students all over the high school have been disappointed by the outcome, though most understand that the school was acting in the best interest for their students and educators. Arjun Sharma, a junior who was signed up to go to Byron Bay, Australia, was most disappointed by the bonds he looks to develop over Interim week. “Every year I get to know new people and it’s sad I won’t be doing that this year. I also wanted to learn more about Australia”. This being said, Arjun, a student at SAS since preschool, believes the school always does their due diligence before making a decision like this. “While it’s sad, the school wouldn’t take the decision without being forced into it by outside circumstances.”

On the third of February, students and parents received an email from the school which notified them of the school’s decision.

As a junior, Arjun still has another year to look forward to Interim. However, not all students can say that. Christina Tanasijevich, a senior who signed up for the Morocco interim with her friends, expressed her disappointment but she says the decision put things into perspective for her. “Interim is something that’s always been there. I guess I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have interim until it was cancelled. It was just like, ‘oh yeah I’m going to Morocco you know’. Then I looked back through my Snapchat memories and was like ‘oh my god, I’ve been to all these places!” About the decision to cancel interim, Christy was understanding. “I think it was necessary. Either way people were gonna be upset and its better to be safe.”

Interim is something that’s always been there. I guess I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have interim until it was cancelled. It was just like, ‘oh yeah I’m going to Morocco you know’.

Christina Tanasijevich, senior

Although no one wished for the unforeseen, unfortunate circumstances that led to this decision, the SAS community can learn a lot from this experience. As students and teachers here we’re very privileged to have such opportunities and often take them for granted. There are a host of people who work tirelessly to give us the best educational experience possible and it wouldn’t hurt to remember that.

Author: Jai Gupta

Jai Gupta is currently a senior. This is his eleventh year at SAS, and his second year reporting for The Eye. Before he heads off to Singapore National Service, he hopes he can relish his time by spending it with his friends and his dog. His main interests include politics and sports. Contact Jai at gupta34551@sas.edu.sg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s