The Foreign Service Journal, June 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JUNE 2021 59 “normal” can expose the strengths and weaknesses of a school community, as well as be a factor in a child’s or adoles- cent’s resiliency. Many boarding schools were able to create safe bubbles through quarantin- ing, and those students had a relatively normal year. Yet many still felt the disruption, and could not reunite with their families overseas (as of this writing, some have been separated from their families for more than a year now), or faced forced quarantines on return to campus. Academic Impact In addition to the emotional costs, many students and families have reported that the last year has brought about other losses in academic achieve- ment. Not only were there lost learning opportunities, but students who struggle with executive functioning or other learning differences have faced addi- tional challenges staying on track. The structure and extra support they have depended on have not always been available through Zoom at the level needed, leading to learning gaps. Even something as seemingly mundane as internet connectivity, which can vary widely based on where one lives, made it difficult for some families to be online for school and work remotely all at the same time. Standardized tests such as the SAT, and even AP and IB exams, were affected, and this resulted in even greater anxiety about the college appli- cation process among many students and their parents. Perhaps the greatest negative impact, however, was on the students who were caught moving from Country A to Country B, at times with an indefinite evacuation stop in the U.S. It has not only been extremely difficult for these students to catch up academically—and feel caught up—but also to make new friends and feel connected to the new school community. Nevertheless, some students have enjoyed learning at their own pace and not feeling the stress of rushing to school or enduring long bus or taxi rides across traffic-clogged cities. One parent reported her son was “living his best life!”