October 7, 2021
Schools bell rings have begun to ring after a pause of 16-month gap with conditions of sanitization, mask and social distancing in place. Some schools are beginning in staggering ways. Some models suggest alternative day classes or 50% attendance on alternative days or 3 days’ online classes and 3 days in the classroom. Such models might mean more preparation for teachers and schools.
Two educators offer views of challenges of schools reopening in terms of teaching & learning.
1.Schools are beginning in staggering ways. What does that mean to teachers in teaching and learning for kids?
Pandemic gave a very minimum option to teaching & learning. However, hybrid learning was a thought process now seen in action. Several social media posts by parents indicate online mode has not been effective for pre-primary kids. Arogya Reddy, Principal of Sharjah Ambassador School, said, “Teachers challenge is to engage both students who opt for online or offline learning. One group would fall into self-learning or activity based learning approaches. This would mean more time on lesson planning.”
Govt of Karnataka has permitted students from Grade 6-12 with 100% attendance. Dr. Anil Kumar. T Campus Director & Principal of Bengaluru International Academy mentions that parents are asking for blended learning. For a school responding to both online & offline is challenging. Vacation for kids could instill confidence among parents. Reopening of offices is also giving confidence for parents to try sending their wards to school.
2.Staggering would mean reduction in syllabus. Would that mean the syllabus will get tapered?
In 2020 CBSE reduced 30% of syllabus, however in 2021 there is no reduction in syllabus. The material has been the same for hybrid models. Arogya Reddy said, “Schools must be prudent in designing the curriculum that emphasizes learning.”
On average schools get 180+ working days with 42 periods per week with each class time of 40-45 min. However, in online mode it has been reduced to 25 periods per week with each class time of 30 min, 5 day a week. In online mode its difficult to understand if the child is following the teachers as reactions aren’t visible, and correction of notes is time demanding. Hence the learning gap is widening, opines Dr. Anil Kumar. T
3.Let us take a situation, if 25% of students need extra support to catch up on their learning when schools reopen while 50% don’t, and the other 25% are new enrolments. How do you think teachers would cope with such a matrix?
Each school needs to bring up equitable learning strategies. This could be complex based on the matrix for each classroom. Arogya Reddy said, “Instructional time is expected to go up in the form of remedial classes, bridge classes, enrichment classes, learning loss classes, & compensatory classes for learners.”
NEP 2020 suggests peer learning, this strategy could be helpful in compensating the missed-out lessons. Teachers need to identify students who could be assigned for peer learning or tutoring within the same cohort.
Arogya Reddy & Dr. Anil Kumar T suggests foundation classes in schools & parental involvement for the new enrolments is a way to help them learn what they have missed.
4.How will school handle if one of the child’s parents tests positive? How do you think other parents react to such a situation?
Schools must obligate staff and parents of students to inform the school if there is a positive case at home. Arogya Reddy suggests a policy like “stay at home if you are not feeling well” and help the authorities for contact tracing within and outside the school. A post quarantine of a negative RT PCR test report would be a requirement. A transparent process is a way to instill confidence among all the stakeholders. As people have continued to realise that COVID 19 is going to stay with us for some time.
Dr. Anil Kumar. T says, this will be based on authentic information or need to be verified by admin. Such protocols are to be communicated to parents. A child’s Covid 19 negative report would be a way to ensure and instill confidence among all stakeholders. Schools need to be empathetic with children in such situations.
Santosh Avvannavar, Education Journalist at QtSTEAM & Mentor at QtPi Robotics