How Will the End of Zero COVID affect International Schools in Shanghai?

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Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong

In case you haven't heard: Zero COVID is over in China.

Quarantine for international travelers to China has been dropped, there's no testing for travel between provinces, and campus access requirements have been greatly relaxed.

All fantastic news!

It’s no secret that schools had been massively impacted by Zero COVID over the last 3 years. Even when face to face classes were able to happen, there were big impacts to significant parts of the educational experience.

It's worth reminding everyone about all the great things that will be coming back soon to make the international education experience in Shanghai the envy of the world!


Here are 13 things to look forward to

Challenge Week is an important way students in a year group form close bonds. They are unique opportunities where students get to know each other in ways other than the classroom where different strengths come out as well for individuals to challenge themselves in new ways.

Challenge Week sees our Dulwich Pudong students jet off to fantastic places like Inner Mongolia, Sichuan, the Great Wall of China for full immersion under the guidance of their teachers (during Zero COVID Challenge Weeks were typically held inside the Shanghai city limits).

Not only do students see amazing parts of China, they develop important qualities of independence and resilience. Many of our alumni cite Challenge Week as one of their fondest memories of their time at Dulwich.

img-1257-resize-again Dulwich Pudong students at the Great Wall

Zero COVID was not good to competitive sports - a traditional strength of Dulwich Pudong. Whilst we put on as many local fixtures as possible, it was a far cry from pre-COVID days when our sports teams would enjoy regular home and away games against Dulwich Beijing rivals or even fly to Singapore for ACAMIS tournaments.

All that's back on the board now.

Our athletes will once again be able to benefit from our long-standing membership in organisations like SISAC (Shanghai International Schools Activities Conference), ACAMIS (The Association of China and Mongolia International Schools), and FOBISIA (Federation of British International Schools in Asia).

Not only that, but we are looking forward to having our parents in the stands at our home games, filling the gym, pitch, filed with Panther pride. Go Panthers!

screen-shot-2022-02-21-at-90841-am Netball champions!

One of the great things about being part of the Education in Motion family of schools is the global talent we tap into to accelerate our students' education. For example, every year the Diversity Series brings our students into contact with global masters of photography/design/poetry/the arts.

During Zero COVID almost all of these were virtual visits. But now the world's best will be able to fly in and spend time with our students face to face.

We are very much looking forward to one of our Senior Schools students rap battling this guy.

masters-collage-resize Mike Gatting, William Fey, the granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and the Riverdance team

Students from different international schools will have many more opportunities to mix, exchange ideas, learn from each other and support causes they believe in, beyond just competing on the pitch.

For example, our One Voice Summit, the award winning annual conference put on by our Senior School Global Citizenship Prefect Team, invites like-minded students from all over the world to join in for a weekend of activism. Similarly HakD, our annual student-led, student-run hackathon, invites students from other Dulwich schools to pioneer the future together.

picture1 Dulwich Hackathon

In the same way that students benefit from the world's best coming to our campus, our students will also benefit from our network of exclusive international partnerships.

Ignite: Switzerland Programme - our Senior School (Middle School) students have the opportunity to study abroad in Switzerland for a term where they will experience a world class education with amazing outdoor learning opportunities.

Vienna Boys Choir - Not very many schools besides ours have a track record of sending their students to Vienna in the summer to practice with the Vienna Boys Choir and even put on a chorale performance in the XXX Cathedral.

International opportunities are back on the agenda!

wechat-image-20230202131050-resize Dulwich Pudong students perform in Vienna with the Vienna Boys Choir

Whilst it's hard to make firm predictions, experts expect that more expats will be returning to China, especially to Shanghai, China's most cosmopolitan city. We ourselves have already seen an uptick in international inquiries since the demise of Zero COVID.

One consequence will be more expat kids at international schools, which means students will benefit from exposure to more people from a greater range of cultures and backgrounds.

Dulwich Pudong, situated in Jinqiao (one of the most expat-friendly places in Shanghai), traditionally has a large number of international students. Over 40 nationalities are represented on our campus and we expect that to grow in the next couple of years.

international-day-parade-resize International Day

Let's be honest, when people can't get together regularly, it's hard to get a strong community vibe happening.

International schools, ours included, did the best they could and our Friends of Dulwich parent group deserves heaps of praise for doing as much as they have done over the last three years to make our community a warm, welcoming, fun place to be. Community spirit will come back in spades with tons of events on the horizon including food fairs, gala dinners, and of course our annual Founder's Day event.

3 International Food Fair

Zero COVID definitely widened the gap between schools and parents. Before Zero COVID parents could come on campus to collect their children and could get in a few words with the teacher if needed.

This sort of casual interaction is especially crucial for Early Years children who are experiencing the school environment for the first time.

So many things come up with children that can easily be addressed in these passing moments. Although schools did their best to keep open lines of communication with parents through a mix of digital channels and Parent-Teacher conferences, there's just no substitute for those direct, face to face moment.

Productive and robust home-school partnership is one of the pillars of the educational approach at Dulwich Pudong. Our teachers and staff look forward to many more face to face moments with parents to strengthen that all important home-school partnership.


Service learning is a key part of any values-driven education. It helps them develop empathy and a desire to make a difference. And service learning works best when you can actually see and interact with the people whom you are helping.

Before Zero COVID, our students used to do tons of hand on service learning projects such as teaching English to underprivileged children, helping migrant children learn musical instruments to name just a few. Every summer groups of students would travel to Uganda to volunteer at the Uganda Peace Centre, a long-time Dulwich Pudong partner.

The ongoing importance of Global Citizenship and nurturing of a global mindset will be greatly aided by the end of Zero COVID. Students will once again be able to travel throughout the world without worrying about possibly missing their studies. Cultures and people and global experiences which receded to the edges will once again come back to the center.

4 Dulwich Pudong student at the Uganda Peace Centre

The university application process was definitely impacted by Zero COVID. Many students had to apply to universities sight unseen. Our University and Career Counselors tell us that with university visits back on the table now, student will be able to get a deeper feel for their #bestfit university and make decisions which are right for them.

In person university fairs will make a comeback, allowing students to get deeper exposure to universities all around the globe. Expect many more in person university events both big and small on the horizon.

Our University and Career Counselors are ready to help our students navigate these new opportunities.

chen3739-resize University Fair

If you're looking at international schools for your child, the end of Zero COVID provides very real benefits.

Through personalised, immersive tour experiences taking place during the school day, you'll be able to experience first-hand the smiles on our students’ faces and the sense of joy and optimism that lights up our hallways on a daily basis.

You'll end up with way better insights into what the school offers and you'll understand more clearly the community you will be joining so you can make the choice that's right for you and your child.

Parents looking to relocate to Shanghai will also be able to visit the campus before they arrive, making the decision making process that much easier.

Feel free to get in touch with our Admissions Team today at to schedule an immersive, personalised campus tour.

Remember that scare story about 40% of expat teachers leaving China because of lockdowns? Whilst that data was never based on any real research, Zero COVID China was a tougher sell for teachers. That's all changed.

The world's best teachers have always seen China's international schools as an essential stepping stone for global careers. With international travel back on the table, summer and winter breaks bouncing around Asia are very attractive for teachers.

Global teaching talent will flood back into China.

Dulwich Pudong Professional Learning event

Shanghai is - and always has been - a city renowned for its cosmopolitan lifestyle and global outlook. Zero COVID didn't help much with that. But with Zero COVID firmly in the rearview mirror, Shanghai will once take its traditional place as a creative, dynamic, financial centre on the global stage, a great place for expats and anyone who wants their child to benefit from some of the best educational opportunities in the world.

wechat-image-20230202133855-2222-resize What a city!


International schools in China did an incredible job adapting quickly and effectively to Zero COVID realities, ensuring that excellent teaching and learning would take place no matter the external challenges.

But with a new era upon us, we are so excited to see tons of new teaching and learning opportunities which will propel our students into the 21st century and beyond!