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TAS - School fee reduction appeal because of Covid-19

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For the attention of:

Phil Nguyen – CEO of The American School

Kevin Curran – Middle-High School Principal of TAS

Garth O'Donnell - Elementary School and Early Childhood Principal of TAS

April 17th 2020

Dear Messrs. Nguyen, Principal Curran and Principal O'Donnell

Covid-19 Fee Reduction Appeal

We write in reference to the email from Ms Teresa Nguyen sent on 8th April, 2020 in regards to the fee increase for the 2020/21 academic year, the current position of TAS regarding fees and refunds for the 2019/20 academic year and the hard ultimatum that parents need to confirm before April 24, 2020.

There is little that can be said that is not widely known and accepted in regards to the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy, both globally and locally, and the bearing that this has had on businesses and finances of those of us in the TAS community and further afield. This is not to mention the damage that has been wrought on our societies and the social development of our children.

We appreciate that in these unprecedented times many businesses have had to pivot, under difficult circumstances, in order to ensure the provision of services within the context of social distancing, emerging legislation and official guidance.

We, as parents, deeply appreciate the dedication, perseverance and flexibility of all the Staff and Teachers at TAS in their efforts to ensure continuation of education in the e-Learning environment & their engagement with the welfare of all students. This process has clearly been a steep learning curve for Teachers, Students and Parents alike and we welcome the effort that has gone on behind the scenes to enable this provision of teaching to occur and continue.

However, we do believe that the provision of the online learning material and student-teacher contact time has been significantly inferior to the level of education we have a right to expect from TAS and for our children. Furthermore, we believe and assert that the service that we have contracted TAS to provide to our children is not being delivered in it’s entirety and that there are significant reductions in the provision of the full education – a concept that has established precedence within commercial contract law and should be seriously considered in these circumstances. These include, but are not limited to, the lack of use of facilities and materials for Art, PE, Drama, Music and the ancillary services and facilities available to them in the usual course of schooling.

Our children have been absent from the TAS campus since the Tet holiday in January and this is look set to continue at least for the coming months. Over this period of time we have seen little action from TAS that has been taken with the best interests of parents and the TAS community in mind, in fact the actions that have been taken have been to reduce the operational expenditure of TAS alone – a situation that is made more disagreeable by the fact that many parents have paid fees in advance and as such a significant portion of TAS’s annual revenue and cash flow has already been secured. This model should allow you, as a school, to be more proactive in supporting parents through difficult and unprecedented times by holding a significant capital balance to help weather these black swan events.

It is frankly both incredulous and disappointing that TAS is seeking to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic and is choosing to act in a way that shows complete disregard for the concerns of parents. How does TAS justify this as fair and equitable for parents?

TAS is a successful for-profit school that has achieved healthy margins and growth for a number of years. This is vital to the long term investment and growth of education and we are all proud to support and play a role in this. However, we do strongly believe that preserving the short-term profitability will endanger the long-term benefits and value development available to TAS in supporting parents through this crisis. At present, TAS has chosen to continue to maintain a stance that is causing severe strain to its reputation and relationship with parents – this choice can be easily reversed and turn a negative experience into a highly positive one for all involved.

Furthermore, we have reviewed the commercial decisions of other schools – both locally & globally – in order to benchmark our expectations and ensure that our ask is reasonable and equitable for all. We note that a significant number of schools are providing fee discounts of 30%, both in Vietnam and worldwide.

In light of the above we, and in consideration of fairness to both TAS and the parents of TAS Students, we are requesting the following:

For 2019/2020 school year

  • Preschool and elementary school fees - refund or credit 70% for days school closed because of Covid19
  • Middle school - refund or credit 40% for days school closed because of Covid19
  • High school - refund or credit 30% for days school closed because of Covid19

For 2020/2021 school year

  • Blanket fee reduction of 10% for all returning students because of economic hardship caused by Covid19
  • Allow parents to register our child/children for a place in the 2020/2021 school year unconditionally
  • Withhold deposit/payment until an official government announcement that Covid19 restrictions are over

Yours Sincerely,

The Parents of TAS

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