By Ms Monika Sachdeva, PGT & Academic Coordinator, Darshan Academy, Delhi
Covid-19 has placed each one of us in an unprecedented situation. It is being considered as the worst epoch of 21st century. If we look back to the Jurassic era, the age of dinosaurs where everything after that had to restart, facing thorough obliteration. We find that we are at a better situation. Isn’t it? We are evolving and not facing extinction. We all have to survive and become the fittest to subsist in the race of evolution. A new society is bound to form in the midst of Covid 19 and the reset button does come with time for us to rethink, reinvent and reinforce.
The disruption caused by Covid 19 has led to opportunities and opening up of new avenues in the education system. It has brought a major change in the teaching-learning process. Almost all the schools across the nation has transformed into a fully tech-enabled work from home culture. While the pandemic might have hit hard on teachers, despite that they worked tirelessly to establish new ways of teaching and adapted themselves to remote teaching. As educators, from the past years we have mastered to amalgamate what we had learnt over our journey, where our most important sources of information were books, newspapers, magazines or encyclopaedias. To evolve with the ever changing world around us, blended learning became the need of the hour, and very quickly teachers who were not well abreast of technology, were running successful online classes. With this fast wave of change, only those survived who quickly embraced change.
We the educators have begun making the most of the available technology, and are further equipping one-self with the right tools to drive personalized teaching, manage online classrooms, content delivery, assignments and collaboration amongst students to conduct subject enrichment activities.
At the same time it is very important to strike a right balance between health, education and overall development that comes as a package of threat due to rising issues in coming together to classes under one roof. Scientific evidences have always proved play and breaks from routine, stimulates the mind to perform better and thus we notice parents and teachers waiting to see students’ offline.
As the pandemic is still exaggerating in 2nd wave, reopening of educational institutions is a ticklish subject. The coronavirus-positive cases are seeing a daily spike and experts are predicting a peak in the months to come. In such a situation, any talk of sending children, even the secondary classes, to school evokes strong reactions.
Undoubtedly, schools perform an important social function. Schools do much more than teach children how to read, write and count. They also provide nutrition, health and hygiene services; mental health and psychosocial support to the kids. A year-long widespread closures of educational facilities has presented a risk to children’s education and wellbeing, particularly for the most marginalised ones who rely on school for their education, health, safety and nutrition. But reopening of schools is an issue involving the safety of children, staff and teachers.
Protocols have to be set. Elaborate guidelines must be framed and followed. Norms of social distancing, regular sanitization, disinfection, transport mechanism, regular school activities, tie-ups with health facilities, screening mechanisms, like hygiene in hostels, kitchens, and common areas and protocols in case a student reports even a mild symptom, each and every aspect has to be examined before a comprehensive framework is prepared.
Most schools across the country are already in the process of laying out plans that will include tailoring transportation logistics, delivery of extra-curricular activities, etc. and should be able to develop a process framework that will be beneficial to all stakeholders – students, teachers, and administrative staff at every school.
The schools will have to ensure certain basic measures such as checking temperatures at school entrances, upgraded infrastructure to facilitate both physical distancing and hygiene protocols at every school site. For instance, designated entrances and exits for different student cohorts sectioned off common spaces, and floor markings to direct foot-traffic flows to help students and staff maintain distance will have to be implemented. Similarly, portable hand-sanitizing stations at entrances and common areas to promote regular hygiene will have to be installed. The entry of parents and visitors has to be restricted into the school building. A physical distance of at least one metre between two desks has to be ensured in all the classrooms.
To conclude, I would suggest that whenever there is reasonable confidence that the spread has been contained, a gradual, staggered reopening can be considered. It is believed that in a post-COVID-19 world, problem-solving, collaboration and digital literacy will be among the top skills that will be required by students to adapt to future workplaces. A blended learning model, which is highly evolved and completely different from what we see in context to regular school models today, will be the future of education. It is articulated that enabling a combination of physical and digital learning environment will make learning more engaging and also not limit it to the physical structure of schools, but create a seamless blend between school and home. It will enable students to learn at their own pace, and at the same time ensure personalised support to those who need extra assistance from the educators, with the help of effective monitoring. A swift transition into creating a personalised learning experience will help develop engaged, self-motivated and independent learners.
We don’t know what the future holds, how long the schools will remain closed. But we can try to shape each day to be positive, creative, exciting and rewarding. To build a new society amidst Pandemic, let’s take a new take, think through the screens