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What Should be the Best Strategy to Follow While Reopening the Schools Post Lockdown?

As soon as the government starts giving relaxations in the lockdown and is planning to unlock India in phases, there are also speculations about school reopening. 

Most of the schools are interested in knowing parent’s opinions regarding the pressing matter of school reopening. Thus, they are collecting feedback from parents via google forms or other means. The feedback which they are receiving presently points out that a majority of parents are not yet ready to send their young ones to school amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

The parents need more assurances from the school authority in terms of implementing all the necessary preventive measures such as social distancing, proper sanitization, etc. in their premises to reduce the chances of the COVID-19 infection among kids. 

What Type of Safety Measures are Needed to be Implemented in Schools? 

In order to help schools to win back the trust & confidence of parents and to ensure proper safety measures against the Covid-19, we have listed down below some valuable measures which all schools should implement in their premises to create a Covid-19 free environment. 

 1. Full -Building Sanitization

Before the re-opening of the school, it is the responsibility of the school authority to hire additional help if needed but make sure that the sanitization of the entire building is done properly, especially of the classrooms. This sanitization must be done on a regular basis before the start of the classes and after the end of the classes to ensure a safe environment.

2.  Mandatory Masks

The Masks must be made as a mandatory part of the school uniform. Those who don’t wear it must be fined and are given an orientation session on the importance of wearing masks amidst the Covid-19 crisis. All the teachers and other school staff also need to be instructed to wear masks and gloves at all times. The teachers will also be provided with extra masks so that they can give the students who need it. 

3. Entry Checkpoints

The Thermal Scanners must be installed at the entry checkpoint of the schools. Also, the students must be instructed to bring a sanitizer bottle of their own to ensure that they clean their hands on a timely basis. The teachers will also be given training regarding how to use a thermal scanner and how to ensure that every student follows the social distancing in a proper way.

4. Blended Learning

The schools can choose and implement the most favorable Blended learning model that will save both time and money and provide the best form of both traditional face-to-face and digital learning. 

To Know More about Blended Learning Model click here:

5. Modified Classroom Setting

To win back the trust & confidence of parents so that they will send their young ones to school with less hesitation and worry, Tinkerly has come up with a model of the modified classroom setting in the form of Klas.

In Klas, a plastic enclosure is installed at the student’s desk in all the four corners of the bench to abide by the rules & guidelines of social distancing. 

What Are Some Good Ideas & Suggestions for School Re-opening? 

There are many speculations about when the schools will reopen but there is not a confirmed date till now.

Given below are some of the ideas which must be very useful to ensure that social distancing and other guidelines of the WHO must be followed properly in schools once they get reopened.

Two Shift Plan

Karnataka secondary education examination board(KSEEB) has a few innovative ideas and suggestions such as starting the classes from LKG to Second in the schools which are affiliated with the KSEEB board to be conducted in two shifts. 

The first shift will start from 7.50 am to 12.20 noon and the second shift will start from 12.10 noon to 5 pm. 

Syllabus Reduction by 30% 

Mr.Manish Sisodia (Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi) has come up with innovative ideas that need to be implemented once the schools get reopened post lockdown. 

He suggested that online teaching can only complement the school learning but it must not be seen as a replacement of it. He wrote a letter to HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and encouraged the idea of school reopening and gave some valuable ideas in the letter.

Some key suggestions which he made in the letter are given below:

  1. A 30% reduction of syllabus across all subjects for secondary & Senior Secondary students so that the students can focus on In-depth learning and understanding.
  1. There is a need for exam reformation in CBSE which must move away from a one-time exam model to a continuous evaluation model so that the students can participate in online exams whenever they want.

Need to Adopt Aadhar Model in Education Sector

According to Infosys Chairman & Co-Founder of EkStep Foundation Mr. Nandan Nilekani, the online classes is just a short term response and there is a need to re-imagine schools as a resilient school system which can work under any kind of tough situation.

In a Virtual Conference on “Future of Schools: Overcoming COVID-19 Challenge and beyond”, Mr. Nandan Nilekani has shared his opinion and said that:

We need the ability to virtualize the space so that schooling can be performed from anywhere. The schooling beyond the school, learning beyond the classroom & playing beyond the playground must be our motive when we look forward to synchronizing teaching-learning experience, it shouldn’t be about proximity.

He believes that the entire education system must prepare themselves and get ready collectively to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

He also thinks that the Education sector needs to adopt the Aadhaar model which is based on 5 components of – universality, scale, portability, convenience, and choice to tackle the Covid-19 or any other disruptions. He said that there is a need to look at both the quality and equity of learning among the students so that they access the same quality of education.

3 Approaches For School Re-opening

Ashoka University has hosted the largest K-12 Virtual conference on the Future of K-12 Education and to discuss innovative ways to overcome the challenges of COVID-19. 

Prof John J-H Kim, who is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business school has shared his Innovative approach for reopening schools.

According to Prof John J-H Kim, There must be 3 main approaches for school re-opening:

Invent – A plan must be invented for school re-opening. 

Validate– The Plan invented in the first stage must be validated with research, accepted local practices and also based on the recent experiences

Monitor & Modify- The Result must be monitored against the expected outcome and will be modified accordingly if needed by removing unwanted parts of the plan in order to improve outcomes.

Alternate Day Classes

The Schools which have a massive student strength is facing a big challenge in ensuring the proper social distancing.

 For Example, In Banglore, there is a school named Carmel School, Padmanabhanagar which is the largest school in the city with a strength of 5800 students.  

To address this situation in a better way the school management has come up with some innovative ideas.

 Ganapathy Rao who is the  principal of Carmel School has the following innovative ideas

“We have to think of ways to stagger classes, “Double shifts would mean around 2,900 students on campus. We have enough rooms for them, but teachers and van drivers will have to work additional hours. Or else, we have to look at alternate days.”

These Alternate day classes are a mixture of both Online & Offline classes. The 3-day week for students must be implemented by the schools and on the other 3 days, the student could attend the online classes. 

He also added that he needs the support from the parents and good clear policy from the government before deciding anything else.

Webinar on Classrooms Post-Lockdown

Recently, FICCI ARISE and Cambridge University Press presents a webinar on Classrooms Post-Lockdown. Many well-known faces of the education industry have taken part in the webinar

Dr. Swati Popat Vats (President at Podar Education Network) represents Pre-schools that are either a part of high school or are like stand-alone private pre-schools. She said:

We are presently following Blended learning in all our pre-schools. She believes that the re-opening of pre-schools hinges on 2 things:

  1. Parents feel that they won’t send the child until the vaccine is not there
  2. If you take the example of Singapore, where they tested all their teachers before sending them into the school so which means do we have enough of testing available to calm down the parents, to reassure them, and make them understand that the things are safe.

She believes it will be a tough challenge to re-open the schools and said that:

So when it comes to the littlest citizens it is going to be a tough challenge to re-open the schools to ensure because they thrive on touch so what social distancing are we talking about? It is very difficult to keep them away from each other, it is very difficult for them not to share their toys. So a lot of these kinds of things are needed to be thought about, planned, and implemented. Thus, it will take the pre-schools the longest time to re-open but I am quite positive that it is the daycares that will open-up first and then when the parents see that the daycares are safe for their children then slowly the pre-schools would start re-opening

She further adds that:

It is very very important for us to understand that when we talk about pre-schools, we talk about the youngest citizens. It is important that this age group right now at home has access to flexible, multifacet, multi-level, play-based ,activity-based, discovery-based education and that can only happen if it is done in three parts:

1.Teacher-Child interaction like a video chat happening for 45 minutes or 60 minutes every day.

2. Parents-Child interaction activities given by the schools so that they are age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate.

3. The school giving certain activities to the child where the child feels independent in doing those activities on their own because autonomy is one of the most important developments in the milestones that children’s emotional development needs at this stage.

At the end of this webinar session, Dr. Ashok Pandey, Director of Ahlcon Group of Schools who has been working in the education sector since the last 30 years has summarized the entire session

We are into a hybrid world, so a hybrid of Online and In-person teaching, hybrid of School-Parent Collaboration, hybrid of Optative and Socio-emotional learning, hybrid of Synchronous and Asynchronous learning, hybrid of Hope and Optimism with the pressing challenges

What type of School Re-opening Practices are Carried Out in Different parts of the World to Protect their Students?

After a few countries started lifting their lockdowns many schools across the world started reopening. 

Given below are the list of countries and their practices followed by schools around the world to ensure a safe preventive environment for the kids.

1.Netherlands

In the Den Bosch city of Netherlands, there is a school Springplank which has come up with an idea of installing plastic shields around the Student’s desks in the classroom to ensure a good social distancing measure inside the classroom setting. 

2. Australia

In the New South Wales of Australia, the school has come up with an innovative plan to allow students to attend school on a  one -day a week basis. 

3. Switzerland

The Geneva’s La Tour School has taken up a few measures to ensure the safety of their students such as the desks of the students are 6.5 feet apart and the classrooms are half-filled to reduce crowding.

4. South Korea

Jeonmin High School in Daejeon, South Korea has installed plastic barriers in the lunch tables at the cafeteria so that the students can eat lunch safely in an infection-free environment.

Conclusion:

Thus in the following blog, we have discussed the types of measures that will ensure the safety of the students at schools once the schools reopen. We learn about various types of ideas & suggestions that need to be implemented once the school gets started again. Apart from this, we have also learned the various practices that are carried out in various schools in different countries around the world. 

Caution

We do not have any opinion about whether schools must re-open now or not. Our purpose in writing this blog is to make schools aware of these innovative ways to ensure the safety of their students whenever they think it is the right time to reopen the school at their own convenience. 

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