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Another Lockdown, Another Problem for Seniors at IB Schools
Written by Gaeun Lee | Published. 2020.11.30 20:03 | Count : 598
[Field at American School of Milan before the lockdown. Photo courtesy of Gaeun Lee]

For seniors attending an international school, 2020 is the most important school year due to college application, which determines the next few years of our lives and possibly even more. However, this last year of pre-college education is even tougher for seniors because of COVID-19. Milan, which is known as Italy’s financial capital, was put under “red-zone” lockdown with three other regions: Piedmont, Valle d’aosta (in northern Italy), and Calabria (southern Italy).  A red-zone lockdown means that all areas that may result in infection (bars, restaurants, and most shops) are closed. Thus, citizens in red zones are not allowed to go anywhere, by either public or private transport, unless for emergency or essential reasons such as purchasing food.Why, you may ask, is this so problematic to quarantined seniors in international school? Most international schools in Italy adopt the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, including my school, American School of Milan(ASM).  In the IB program, there are assessments called “Internal Assessments (IAs)” where students have to engage in certain activities or research. Before this school year began, IB changed some IA requirements so that it is still possible for students to fulfill requirements even during the potential lockdown. However, this does not mean that students will find it easy to do this year’s IB program, especially because of the science IAs. At my school, we first have to notify the teacher that we are going to school on a particular day. We have to bring an ID card and an authorized permission sheet issued by the local government, which is provided by ASM. We have to repeat this process, which takes up a lot of time and is stressful.

Currently, we have most of our classes through Zoom. Homework is submitted to Schoology, which is a web service for sharing files between students and teachers. Some teachers posted a checklists in Schoology to see how much we actually worked on our IAs. We understand that teachers are posting these checklists because they cannot directly supervise us due to quarantine. However, the problem is that some teachers make them summative so that they heavily influence the final grade. Seniors are already burdened with a lot of homework and exams: the checklists only add to the pressure.

With these problems, I was genuinely curious how ASM will keep seniors from panicking. I interviewed ASM’s director, Mr. Rutherford, who is confident that things will not change too much because of COVID-19.. “I am sure that they [IB] learnt a lot from the previous year’s experience. There will be more transparency. IB is watching the situation; they have been managing the achievable goals for the seniors so that it reduces the enormous stress that students get. [ASM] cares about the social and emotional aspects of students; so our upper school administration has been communicating with the student group such as Student Council or National Honor Society. ”

[Photo of the author interviewing Mr. Rutherford to ask question regarding the IB program. Photo courtesy of Gaeun Lee ]

As IB exams were cancelled last year, the grades relied solely on the IAs. Thus, considering the current situation, IB has been reducing some mandatory requirements for the students. In response to the fear of lockdown, ASM has been reaching out to students more actively than before. Counselors are doing their best to reassure the worried seniors. Even though we are still anxious about our next seven months, seniors in international schools are getting massive support from schools in order to overcome the depressing mood of lockdown.


Gaeun Lee
12th grade
American School of Milan

Gaeun Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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