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COVID Response and Student Feedback – 98% Student Satisfaction and 96.5% of pre-COVID Expected Student Numbers

98% of students had a positive impression of our response to the COVID situation


Just like everyone else, my school has been trying to navigate the COVID situation as best as we can.  Enough time has passed since the crisis began that I think I can write about what we’ve done and the response it has received.


From the beginning of the crisis we made some assumptions and determinations about our future actions:

  • We would need to be flexible and ready to move quickly at any time.
  • The virus is likely to be with us for a long time, so we must come up with solutions that help maintain student numbers and can be maintained over a long period of time.
  • If we go remote (online) too early, it might keep us from being able to maintain those lessons as long once it gets to the point where remote lessons truly become necessary.
  • Whatever we chose to do, we needed to be sure the decisions were made based on reliable information–as far as we could know it at the time–and not based on fear. Fear is as dangerous an enemy as COVID itself.


This is how we responded:

  1. When schools closed in late February, we immediately made preparations such that we could go to remote lessons very quickly, if necessary. This meant purchasing 21 Business Zoom accounts, entering lesson information and creating QR codes for 250 weekly lessons, and distributing that information to parents by each student’s next lesson.  We asked them to download and test Zoom ahead of time, as there was a possibility we would need to go remote at any time.
  2. We instituted measures at our schools to try and allay fears and improve safety–such as requiring all students to take temperatures before coming, wash hands with soap upon arrival, and ventilating classrooms between lessons–and worked hard to communicate these measures with students/parents. We did not require students and staff to wear masks, get rid of shared materials such as card games, nor other measures I know some other school owners took.  We let children be children as much as was possible.
  3. When it became clear that a state of emergency would likely be called, we did our first week of lessons for the new school year in April–to hand out textbooks and other materials and get students oriented–and then started remote lessons at our language school from the second week. Our immersion kindergarten continued to operate as normal.
  4. Our Zoom lessons were run as similarly to our F2F lessons as possible. They ran for the same amount of time, we tried to maintain our interactive style, and we charged the same monthly tuition.
  5. We never changed our policy on taking breaks. If students wanted to take a break, it would need to be for at least two months and we explained that they might have difficulty moving up to the next level next April due to lost lesson time and would no longer qualify for free makeup lessons if they fell behind.  We also gave no discounts or refunds.  We would apply any already paid tuition fees to the first month after they returned.  We said we would fulfill our responsibility to supply the best lessons possible for the given situation and they were welcome to quit if they were unhappy with our service.


Just before Golden Week we anonymously surveyed our students and received an incredibly positive response.  To our question on what our students thought of our response to the COVID situation–including our remote Zoom lessons, hand washing, ventilating classrooms, and other measures–98% of 415 respondents replied that they felt we did either very well (307) or fairly well (100).  Only 6 (1.5%) marked somewhat poorly and 2 (0.5%) very poorly. 


As for student numbers, we are about 3.5% below where I estimate we would be if not for the effects of COVID.  Considering the situation and that we still have 4% more students now than at the same point last year, I am quite happy and very relieved with the outcome.


Some lessons we have taken away from our experience so far are:

  • Sometimes people want you to make decisions for them. Not asking students if they would like to go online not only didn’t seem to hurt us, but was likely beneficial.
  • Students/parents understand these are difficult and unusual times and are forgiving–to a point. Survey results on our Zoom lessons show we have room for improvement, but that has not yet hurt satisfaction with our response.
  • Just because some people are loud in their complaints doesn’t mean they represent a large number of other students. We did receive strong complaints from some parents, which made our staff concerned, but those concerns were allayed and the complaints put into perspective once the survey results became available.


Our situation is unique to us, but hopefully these results can help other schools in determining what measures might work best for them if (when?) a second wave comes and we have to begin the process all over again.  I feel we have a long way to go.  I believe we can all make it through this together.

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