When the lockdown 1.0 happened, most schools in southern states of India were finishing up the academic year, and starting the summer vacation. Most parents, and their children would have planned for a vacation/holiday, which they would have missed, because of the ban on travel.
The docial distancing requirement also meant they were restricted going outside there homes and playing with children in the neighborhood. That is all fine, because that is the only way to contain the spread on nCOVID19 pandemic. Everyone had to comply with it strictly for their own safety, safety of their family and the community at large.
Many schools and educators designed and started delivering to children under lockdown at home-some fun activities they can do, also involving the parents. The great advantages being – an opportunity to keep the children active and engaged in a stress-free way.
Parents started collaborating actively with parents so the bond and the importance of parents engagement in the nurturing of their children’s talents, and interest areas could happen Anyhow most parents were also at home due to the lockdown.
The educators learn to work with online tools, in the course of engaging children with various activities – not curriculum related at all.
While these activities are happening, there are statements from Authorities, that children should be unnecessarily be engaged in online activities.
The schools and educators have also been informed that in case the lockdown and the restrictions therein do not end when it is time to start the new academic year, the classes, the teaching-learning processes should happen using education technology, and possibly slowly move towards a blended model.
To make this happen the teachers will need training to use Edtech effectively and be able to complete the engagement their students by not jus talking into a camera, but in addition using technology tools for learning. A kit that comprises of generic technology tools, but also subject specific tools like Geogebra, Geometr Sketchpad, Celestia, Mapmaker etc.
All this requires adequate preparation and trials, including ensuring adequate Internet Infrastructure, ensuring the last mile internet connectivity to students are reasonable good from and a bandwidth and Data pack point of view. Still, it is practically impossible to be fully inclusive because of the students may not have robust internet access.
In order to be fully prepared for starting off the upcoming Academic year with use of technology and remote teaching-learning require some tryouts during the vacation time.
We could potentially slide into a blended model of education, partly online, partly at school, but by strictly adhering to Social distancing norms. Which absolutely is essential.
Let us think of the potential practical issues that the school may have to deal with at a time when students start coming into campus.
Transportation/commute to and fro the campus, strictly adhering to social distancing norms. Checkpoints at the entry to do all the health checks plus sanitisation. Additionally complying to maintaining social distancing and other requirements in respect of movement inside the campus, classroom norms (social distancing), lunch breaks etc.
The classrooms and other spaces would have been designed and equipped to handle a certain number of students. Social distancing norms will require the number of students attending a class room session to be reduced to 1/3rd. Consequent to this is designing shifts and also requiring a student to attend school may be only twice a week, and the remainder of the sessions being done online.
For schools, school leadership, and educators to perfect this model is not simple.
This will need clarity and full support from the Local Administration, Education Departments, Policymakers, Curriculum designers, Affiliating boards and all other stakeholders. On top of all this is the uncertainty in how all this will unfold in respect of timelines. Consistency in the messaging and directions provided by various authorities will help.
We have also heard that about schools not to collect Fee, but continue to deliver fully substantive education. How many Schools would be able to do that?