Navigating School Safety During COVID-19

Navigating School Safety During COVID-19

As we move closer to our 7th month of school during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are settled in (as much as can be expected) to a new set of health and safety protocols that were introduced at the start of the school year. Now, with vaccinations beginning to roll out, our school communities have begun wondering how these safety protocols may be changing or what they can do to continue keeping families safe as we continue to navigate through this pandemic. As a refresher, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to maintain student and school safety during COVID-19.

COVID-19 School Safety

By now, we’ve all become accustomed to the school safety requirements that have come about over the course of the past year. We have become pros at hand-washing, mask wearing, coughing in our elbows, social distancing, and vigilantly keeping an eye on our health symptoms. We know to keep ourselves, and our family members, home from work or school if we show any signs of possible infection such as:

  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Coughing and/or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Body Aches
  • Sore throat

Following the recommended safety guidelines and knowing the symptoms to watch for are the best ways to arm ourselves and our families against infection. But now that we are seeing vaccinations being rolled out, have the guidelines changed? Should we be practicing different safety protocols now?

Maintaining Safe Health Protocols

While we may be tempted to begin loosening our safety protocols as vaccinations become more dispersed, it’s important to understand we need to continue our same level of precautionary measures until they have been updated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and any additional local/school guidelines. In short, keep doing what you’ve been doing for the past several months in order to help us navigate through the pandemic.

Here at Tessa International, this means our staff and students/families will continue to follow our rigorous guidelines to keep everyone safe. This means, we will continue to:

  • Utilize staggered drop offs, pickups, and recess times for students
  • Limit building access to staff and students whenever possible
  • Daily temperature checks
  • Proper hand-washing and sanitizing at regular intervals and as needed
  • Mask wearing required for kindergarten and up, strongly encouraged for nursery and pre-k
  • Keep using indoor shoes or slippers
  • Toy and play items regularly disinfected as needed throughout the day
  • Daily professional deep cleaning of all areas
  • Use designated play areas only – non-Tessa-owned play equipment will not be used

Student Safety through the End of the Pandemic

We are extremely proud of our students, staff, and community members who have all pulled together to help navigate this health pandemic. Everyone has done a wonderful job putting health and safety first and limiting the risks of being exposed to COVID-19. We will continue to update you as we progress through the year and new developments come about. Keep up the good work, Tessa families!

Eating Healthy for a Better Immune System

The human body’s immune system is its best defense against disease. It does a remarkable job of keeping us healthy. But sometimes it fails: A germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? What if you improve your diet? 

Diet is one of the most important factors to a healthy immune system.  Feeding your body certain foods helps keep your immune system strong. It is very important to teach children from a young age about a good and healthy nutrition, its benefits and functioning.  At Tessa, we try to implement these notions to our students during lunch, snacks and special activities. Parents can also help by developing healthy eating habits for themselves and their household.

No food or supplement can prevent illness but you may help support your immune system by including these nutrients in your eating plan on a regular basis:

Protein plays a role in the body’s immune system, especially for healing and recovery. 

Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. 

Vitamin C supports the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies. 

Vitamin E works as an antioxidant and may support immune function. 

Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may help wounds heal.

Here are some examples of foods that contain those nutrients. But most importantly, variety is the key to proper nutrition. 

1. Citrus fruits


Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C.  Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. Popular citrus fruits include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes
  • clementines

Other fruits loaded in vitamin C are kiwis and Papaya. 

2. Red bell peppers

red bell pepper

Surprisingly, bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. 

3. Broccoli


Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all.

4. Garlic


Garlic adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health. Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections.

5. Ginger


Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea.

6. Spinach


Spinach is rich in vitamin C and also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.

7. Yogurt


Yogurts are a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with vitamin D and plain yogurts. 

8. Almonds


When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to vitamin C. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats. A half-cup serving provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E. Other foods with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados and dark leafy greens.

9. Green tea

green tea

Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.

10. Poultry


When you’re sick, chicken soup is more than just a feel-good food with a placebo effect. It helps improve symptoms of a cold and also helps protect you from getting sick in the first place. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body. 

11. Sunflower seeds

sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorousmagnesium, and vitamin B-6. They’re also incredibly high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.

12. Shellfish


Shellfish isn’t what jumps to mind for many who are trying to boost their immune system, but some types of shellfish are packed with zinc.

Zinc doesn’t get as much attention as many other vitamins and minerals, but our bodies need it so that our immune cells can function as intended.

Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include:

  • crab
  • clams
  • lobster
  • mussels


Coronavirus: Measures taken and Health reminders

At Tessa, The safety of our community is our top priority. While the number of disclosed cases in the area is still small, the situation is evolving rapidly. Knowledge is the most important key to avoid viruses to spread, we are therefore committed to regularly sending updates and relevant information.

Health Practices

Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends individuals and families follow the following everyday preventive measures:

  • Stay home when you are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus. Faculty, staff and students should not return to school until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without medication.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects

How to talk to your children about the virus

News of the coronavirus COVID-19 is everywhere, from the front page of all the papers to the playground at school. Don’t be afraid to discuss the coronavirus. Most children will have already heard about the virus or seen people wearing face masks, so parents shouldn’t avoid talking about it. 

Here are a few resources that can help: 

Here is a short institutional video we use to teach our students how to wash their hands.

What measures do we take at Tessa?

We ensure that every necessary measures are taken and closely follow the guidance of health experts across the CDC and WHO. 

Practices that we are enforcing in our classrooms include:

  • Using masks for children or teachers who are coughing 
  • Disinfecting door knobs, tabletops, counters, light switches, and toys several times a day
  • Revisiting hand-washing and coughing/sneezing lessons in each classroom and building on them to be even more thorough
  • Keeping children who show symptoms away from other children, and call parents to pick them up
  • Stocking up on sanitizers, gloves and masks to make sure not to run out

Travel To and From China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran

  • At Tessa, all employees and students are prohibited from traveling to  China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran until further notice. Both countries have been classified as “Level 3, Avoid Non Essential Travel” by CDC. Please note that travel restrictions include connections through these countries.
  • If allowed entry by U.S. authorities, any community member currently in China, including students, will only be allowed back to school or the dormitory if they return with a parent or other authorized guardian.  They must also stay out of school for 14 days or get the proper medical test that shows as negative for coronavirus conducted by an American physician and share that documentation with the Tessa leadership team.  Alternative assignments will be available if this guidance prevents students from attending school. 

Travel to Other International Locations

  • Other countries may be added to the restricted travel list as the WHO, CDC, and State Department update their travel warnings and other guidance. 
  • If any Tessa community member or anyone in their immediate household travels to other countries bordering China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran or countries with travel warnings, please contact our leadership team immediately so we can determine next steps. 

Contingency Planning

Tessa International school is committed to ensuring any potential closure of school be as least disruptive to student learning as possible.There are no plans to close school at this time, and the decision to close school and next steps forward will be in collaboration with public health experts. For Kindergarten and Primary classes, we are working on a distance learning plan in case the school was to be closed.

For more information and updates about COVID-19, please consult the following resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO)

New Jersey also has a 24-7 hotline devoted to your questions about the virus: 1-800-222-1222.

Black History Month Celebration at Tessa

At Tessa International School we value people whose achievements have changed the World in a positive way! The month of February has given us the opportunity to celebrate Black History. Each class celebrated their way.

Grade 1 students learned about  African-American women and men who fought to ban slavery, segregation and discrimination.  They discussed the importance of the implication of these changes have brought in the life of individuals.  One group of students appreciated how Frederick Douglass secretly learned to read and then taught the other African-Americans to read.  They found him so knowledgeable and caring.

Another group decided to discuss Sojourner Truth, a true caring woman who tried to find jobs for freed slaves.  

A third  group of students chose Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple who successfully challenged Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage in the 1960’s. They were inspired by the couple’s love story, perseverance, and open-mindedness.  

A fourth group has chosen the risk-taker Harriet Tubman who helped slaves escape to freedom.

The last group worked on Viola Desmond, a Canadian anti-segregation activist, and Nelson Mandela, the late activist and leader of South Africa.

Yoa Meikle

Learning French is fun with TessaPrep!

Tessa International School’ offers Tessaprep After School French on Wednesdays and Fridays. TessaPrep classes include Spanish, French and Mandarin immersion classes offered by Tessa’s own team. They take place for 1.5 hours twice a week which we believe is the exposure necessary to give students a meaningful foundation in the language.

Here is what our After School Teacher, Ms. Aline, has to say about a recent lesson. 

At the after-school French program, we started our most recent lesson with a free-inquiry activity on the tables. Students chose from puzzles, drawings, geometry, and arts. Then, we had Circle Time about the lesson of the week. We had already studied the french alphabet, and now we are learning about fruits and vegetables. We are making sure that all the children are engaged in the lesson by making them participate by introducing themselves, describing the weather, counting, learning the names of colors, and also talking about their feelings. For each theme, a game is used to facilitate the learning process of the children.  Then, a logical thinking activity or art activity is proposed to the children of the program. We end the lessons with some French songs to keep them engaged.

Tessaprep is a fun way to learn French!

Woodworking at Tessa

Tessa International School has partnered with Kidbilt to provide an engaging afters-chool program devoted to woodworking.  Here is what they have to say about it:

In our after school woodshop class, kids as young as 4 years old are learning how to work with real tools building projects out of wood.  We take the kids through he entire woodworking process from start to finish.  We learn about where wood and lumber comes from and how it’s made.  The different species of wood look and feel different as well as have different properties.  Cherry wood is harder than pine. 
Students learn how to use the measuring tools such as rulers, squares, measuring tape and angle measure.  We measure and mark desired lengths of the project pieces before cutting them with a hand saw.  Students use a small hand pull saw one on one with the teacher.  We teach them the importance of using a woodworking clamp by attaching the piece we are working with securely to the table before using a saw so that the free hand can be at a safe distance away from the blade.  Students learn various joinery techniques – we use a drill to make pilot holes to attach pieces by using screws, nails or dowels.  In the process students are practicing hand eye coordination when using a hammer, a pincer grasp and fine motor skills when turning the screw in with a screwdriver.  Students are also taught various finishing techniques such as sanding with different grit paper, using mineral oil or using wax.  
Projects during the semester include, toy car/ vehicles, sail boat, airplane, bird feeder, tool box, step stool.  We try to make sure students are excited about the projects and ask for their input on what they would prefer building. 

A Celebration of Learning

At Tessa International School, for the End of Unit Celebration, students have been demonstrating different arts and crafts they have created related to the Unit of Inquiry, performing songs and dances,  or making short speeches about what they have learned. 

The Celebration of Learning is a part of the IB PYP curriculum framework and a  great way to develop a partnership between parents and schools. 

It is such a powerful opportunity for students to make their learning public and gain confidence by presenting it to an authentic audience.

Through this process, students can embrace the different learner profiles to reflect on their learning by communicating what they now know and what they are inquiring about. 

Are your children enthusiastic and proud to show you what they have inquired about? Are they able to explain it? Can they use some vocabulary of the targeted language ( French or Spanish)

Parents (and teachers) have on the other hand to show respect, curiosity, confidence and appreciation in the progress during the Celebration.

Do we show pride when we see our students accomplishing their goals? Do we empower them and give them ownership by  being curious and asking questions?

Indeed, “the PYP is a transformative experience for students, teachers and the whole school community. PYP students learn how to take control of their learning, teachers collaborate to deepen student- learning and increase their confidence and self-motivation. The whole school community, including parents, are viewed as partners in learning, and actively contribute to a holistic educational experience” 

For those reasons, we have to embrace every kind of progress as it is a demonstration of skills (socially and academically) they have acquired through the learning.

In the PYP, there is no standard way to do a celebration of learning as it is a reflection of the students work and progress. 

For that reason, teachers and students can choose the format but the most important thing is that celebrating your children’s learning is a way to realize an effective assessment which is profitable not only for teachers but also for students and parents.

Indeed, effective assessments allow students to:

  • share their learning and understanding with others;
  • demonstrate a range of knowledge, conceptual understanding and skills;
  • use a variety of learning styles, multiple intelligences and abilities to express their understanding;
  • know and understand in advance the criteria for producing a quality product or performance;
  • participate in reflection, self- and peer-assessment;
  • base their learning on real-life experiences that can lead to further inquiries;
  • express different points of view and interpretations;
  • analyze their learning and understand what needs to be improved.

And it allows parents to:

  • see evidence of student learning and development;
  • develop an understanding of the student’s progress;  
  • provide opportunities to support and celebrate student learning.

That being said, we had a wonderful Celebration of Learning last week!!!!

Elodie Sylvestre.

Tessa’s Chinese New Year Celebration

On February 1st, 2020 Tessa International School is excited to host its first Chinese New Year festival!

Chinese New Year (春节) is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. Observances traditionally take place from the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. 

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Lantern Festival

Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs. The evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. 

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Reunion Dinner

For the northern regions of China, dumplings are featured prominently in meals celebrating the festival(Dumpling Making, Blue Classroom). 

It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to family and business(Lion Dance, Purple Classroom). 

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Lion Dance

Another custom is watching performances with family members (Chinese Opera Mask Making, Green Classroom). 

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Chinese Opera

Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes to young generations (get a red envelope at the end of the activity at Purple Classroom).

During the week, our students prepared decorations for the celebration. You can find some of them below!

Prime Taekwondo, more than an Afterschool!

Tessa International School has a great relationship with Prime Taekwondo in the Monroe Center. Besides hosting our indoor Yoga and PSPE classes, as well as indoor play on rainy days, on Tuesdays we have an After-School program for Taekwondo for children who are 4 years old and up with Prime. There, each child is taught with care and patience. The instructors scaffold for each child’s individual level. The program offers children a way to let each child know that he or she is special and he or she can achieve his or her maximum potential. Taekwondo students are more respectful at home and more diligent about doing homework and chores around the house. 

Prime Taekwondo proposes different programs such as adult, teen and toddler classes, designed to encourage the development of the child, work on the discipline of the teenagers, relieve stress and tension for adults. Taekwondo is one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts, that teaches more than physical fighting skills. It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing our spirit and life through training our body and mind. Today, it has become a global sport that has gained an international reputation, and stands among the official games in the Olympics.

They also offer amazing birthday parties and family classes. Your child and up to 15 friends can enjoy a fun party involving Taekwondo training, fun games, physical activities and even board breaking. We encourage you to have a look at their website!

Our Winter Holiday Show

At the end of the 18-19 school year, the Tessa Administration asked us to direct the 1st ever holiday show and I will admit, we were equal parts excited and nervous. Just like you, we value the quality of education that Tessa provides and the unique community that Tessa has created and we really wanted to honor that in our work with the children.  The task of putting together an original show for almost 100 students seemed daunting BUT we were up for the challenge!

We have always loved the portion of the Tessa mission statement that refers to Tessa students as “happy world citizens”. So we brainstormed for several weeks and 2 songs kept coming up for us: “It’s a Small World” and “We are the World”.  We went into rehearsals knowing that we would incorporate both songs into our show somehow. In continuing with the world theme, we thought it would be fun and educational to highlight other winter holidays so we researched: Yalda, Pancha Ganapati, Omisoka and the Longest Night of the Year (a Winter Solstice festival celebrated in Ushuaia, the very bottom of Argentina) and worked with the Grade 1 and Kindergarten students to create short scenes to present on each holiday.  The PreK 3 and PreK 4 classes were assigned winter or holiday songs to present.

It was important to us that we have at least one group number that included every student but we couldn’t decide on which of our world songs to use, ”It’s a Small World” or “We are the World” so…we combined them to create a finale song as unique as the students singing it!  Because music did not exist for this new creation of a song, we took several students to SkyRoom Studios to record a Tessa original track that the entire student body could sing along to during rehearsals and the live show.   

After several months rehearsing with the children every Friday, 30 minutes with each class, we began adding costume pieces in around 2 weeks prior to the performance. On December 20th, our group of “happy world citizens” took to the stage to present the culmination of their hard work

Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030