Spring break dates changed because of coronavirus

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Spring break dates changed because of coronavirus

Post by beekayem »

My school has suddenly changed our spring break dates due to fears of state-mandated school closures due to corona-..
To give some context, my school is in a country that has a handful (5 at the time of writing) of confirmed cases. None in my city but in the city where cases have accorded the local government has closed schools for 2 weeks.
Our original spring date dates were from the 28th of March, for one week. They have been moved forward to 14th March. The school says it is to minimize potential virtual school days (although we are in a country where security is an issue and virtual days are not totally uncommon, the school is well prepared).
We were informed overnight, via email (the same one that was sent to parents!)
This has obviously disrupted travel plans and come with the expense of changing/cancelling flights/hotels and most teachers are super pissed off.
This may sound like a silly question, but do we have a right to be? The school is saying that these are extremely mitigating circumstances.
Are there grounds to ask to be compensated for money lost with flights/hotels etc??
I'd be really interested to hear if anyone has had a similar situation and what they did or might do.

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Post by PsyGuy »

You absolutely have a right to be pissed, in so much as youre the sole arbitrator of your emotions. As to whether five Wuhan . cases in the whole country with none in your city constitutes "extremely mitigating circumstances" Im sure opinions vary broadly.
There are absolutely grounds for you to ask for compensation, assuming you actually incur damages/costs in re-planning your holiday. The answer is just going to be no.
Your IS is in an extraordinary position and there likely isnt much flexibility in modifying their response. If you ask the response is going to be an apology and an explanation but a no. If you demand, you better have your exit strategy ready to implement, because its likely going to come down to what are you willing to walk away from. Are you pissed off enough to make your Spring holiday an early summer holiday, and potentially be recruiting for the next AY?
The reason why thats what its going to come down too, is as you said there are a lot of super pissed ITs, and if they compensate one of you, everyone is going to want compensation, and leadership isnt going to want to do that and even if they did ownership isnt going to agree with that. The ISs leadership is probably predicting a certain amount of blow back, and they rational that whatever it is is acceptable.

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Re: Spring break dates changed because of coronavirus

Post by OverThere »

Expecting more of these stories in the future.

I know several schools in SE Asia that are actually going further and trying to restrict the travel of staff. One sent out a letter prohibiting staff from leaving the country until further notice.

The OP asks if they have a right to be pissed. The answer is yes.

PsyGuy's response is largely correct on a factual level, but the tone is problematic. The OP is the sole arbiter of their emotions, but third-. perspective can support the OP's displeasure at the school. If schools are making changes or instituting arbitrary rules (including rules that they have no contractual basis for), they are AT MINIMUM responsible for the consequences.

There's a school calendar. Staff are entitled to plan their travel around that. It's one thing if there are clear policies that can lead to schedule alterations (like "snow days") or if there's a government-mandated shift. But when schools just make things up when they go along, it's dicey. Is a school justified in firing a teacher because they flew home over a break in defiance of "orders" from above that were imposed long after they signed their contract? Or, if the teacher is willing to consider complying with orders shifting breaks or limiting travel, on what grounds can a school deny them compensation for the cost of compliance?

PsyGuy's answer that schools will deny compensation is probably right, but it's not a fait accompli if people join together and get a backbone. Part of being a teacher (or any good team member, I'd argue) is give and take. It's really iffy that a teacher should HAVE TO give into arbitrary schedule/rule changes. But if there's nothing offered in return (not even making them whole for the costs they incur), then there's no give and take.

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Re: Spring break dates changed because of coronavirus

Post by MyLifeOverseas »

These are certainly uncharted times and there really is no precedent in the era of Coronavirus, self-isolation, and virtual school.

I do have a few comparisons in my many years of experience overseas. In Venezuela a few years ago we were told to delay our return to school for the start of the year due to protests and instability, thus giving us an extra 2 weeks of summer vacation. BONUS summer vacation time!! It was a small school owned by an oil company and the school covered all fees related to changing your flight date. A year before we ended the school year early and again the school paid for that change fee so we could leave the area which was getting less and less safe. BUT keep in mind this is a small oil school with only about 15 FH teachers.

Years ago, I was in Saudi Arabia as the Middle East prepared for the 2nd Iraq war to start. It was few weeks before spring break and our school was nervously anticipating the possible ramifications if air space closed as they planned to still keep the school open. We then received a request from the school admin to not leave the country for spring break. Most of us understood the predicament and honoured the request. I recall a few teachers didn't, as they thought the school had no right to request that of us. I don't remember if there were any fees involved in cancelling tickets back then. The amazing thing was the families all ended up having a really fun social time on our compound, around the pool, dinner parties hosted by a different family each night, games and movie nights, and kid sleep-overs. That was life before social media, video streaming and Netflix. Back when people did stuff socializing together rather than binge-watching a series on your own all day/night long!!

Life right now and the near future will be ruled by this Coronavirus.It sucks. Everyone is totally entitled to feeling pissed off. My advice is to try to stay as positive as you can people. And wash your hands. Constantly.

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Re: Spring break dates changed because of coronavirus

Post by Candycane »

Yes, you have the right to be upset. However, I wouldn't necessarily tell admin about it or ask for reimbursement for changing travel plans. You're not the only person going through this. Your Admin is going through a lot too, making decisions to deal with this. It's my Spring Break this week and we have been asked to not leave the country because we may not be able to return. If we could return, we'd still have a 14-day quarantine. I'm not going anywhere. There was only 1 case here when admin decided to ask us not to travel. There's now 20 cases and growing each day. Covid is unpredictable and these are the unprecedented times that we are living in right now. Nobody is enjoying this and you are not the only one being majorly inconvenienced by it. A lot of people are being put out and losing money on canceled travel plans. Try to stay positive and not complain about it too much. I'll keep reminding myself to do the same :-P

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Re: Spring break dates changed because of coronavirus

Post by Psychometrika »

Of course you have the right to be upset. There is much to be upset about given the current circumstances.

The country where I am living, Georgia, just announced they are closing the borders to foreigners for two weeks starting two days from now. However, at this point I think we all know this very well might be extended. This obviously sinks any spring break travel plans for most in our school community who are not Georgian. Previously, our had school had asked staff to restrict travel but that is largely moot now.

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