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Opinion: Our international schools in Japan maintain high standards of health and safety

This photo shows Matthew Parr, president of Japan Council of International Schools, getting his vaccine shot at the Nagoya International School, in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, on July 17, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the author)

In reference to the article posted June 24, titled "1/4 of int'l schools in Japan found to lack nurse's office," I would like to provide your readers with a little more information about the work of the schools belonging to the Japan Council of International Schools (JCIS), and the high standards of health and safety we maintain.

    This image shows the logo of the Japan Council of International Schools. (Image courtesy of the author)

    Our 28 member schools are represented on the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) committee convened to discuss the issue of health in international schools in relation to the survey mentioned in your article, and it has been our honour to be part of these conversations on raising standards of health and well-being in schools.

    At the same time, I also want to raise awareness that the concerning health care standards highlighted in your article do not represent the standards of health and hygiene in JCIS schools. JCIS schools are fully accredited, and have received authorization to operate not only from authorities here in Japan, but by virtue of accreditation from agencies overseas we are held to the very most exacting standards by international bodies such as the Council of International Schools (Holland), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (U.S.), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (U.S.) and more. The strict and rigorous standards of these accrediting bodies mean that our schools pride themselves on an equal commitment to both the learning and the wellbeing of our students.

    Particularly during this pandemic, the JCIS has collaborated to provide for the learning and well-being of our students. With support and advice from MEXT as well as our own trusted medical consultants, we have implemented a range of effective measures to keep our communities as safe as possible during the pandemic.

    Additionally, we have collaborated on strategies to support student and staff emotional wellbeing through this time of unprecedented stress. Beyond that, JCIS schools collaborate on standards of safeguarding and child protection to ensure the safety of our students. In fact, some of our schools will be hosting mass vaccination sites in the coming weeks in order to support the health and wellbeing of our wider communities.

    Our international schools serve a vital function in the economy, supporting international business by enabling Japanese and foreign companies to engage an international workforce here in Japan. Students also graduate from our schools with bilingual abilities and cross-cultural thinking capacity. In doing so, JCIS graduates are capable of having an enormous impact on Japan and the world. As such, the safety and health of our learners is a priority.

    I encourage readers who would like to learn more about our work promoting international education here in Japan through our member schools to consult our website (https://www.jcis.jp/) for more information.

    (By Matthew Parr, head of school, Nagoya International School and president, Japan Council of International Schools)

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