Schools Post Lockdown - What? Why? How?

The need of the hour is to adopt a hybrid model for learning with fully equipped online tools and assessment for evaluations; redesigning and restructuring the curriculum is now a necessity.

When schools reopen with restrictions fearing concern of safety, it might be easy for high-end schools to adhere to all precautionary measure, ensuring social distancing but it is a real challenge for the normal schools.  

Few outlined significant measures  

  • Taking adequate steps to Upgrade School and technology Infrastructure 

  • Define safety, hygiene, and behaviour protocols 

  • Training all staffs on COVID related regulations 

  • Digitalize all admin paperwork and fee payment 

  • Educate students, parents, on skills for surviving a pandemic safety 

  • Restructure class schedules, curriculum including digitalizing assessments 

  • Set up counselling sessions for students and staff for managing stress/ anxiety 

  • Collaborate with health workers and help with contact tracing 

A model for Government Regulations in the schools that can be emulated - school may follow a 50-50 model wherein learning can be between School and from home; children can also be allowed to study from home. I suggest that the 45 minutes’ period could be truncated to 30 minutes for effective learning. I believe that a child’s emotional wellbeing is very important and hence two days in a month must be allocated for emotional counselling. Pen-paper assessments need to discontinue, and promotion of non-stressful assessment formats need to adhere. Children with special needs should be provided with adequate help to overcome constraints. 

Following the Government guidelines during the Lockdown, post-Lockdown Schools should adhere to the same, that is, school building needs to be deep cleaned, disinfected and sterilized periodically, there should be thermal screening for all at the entry points of the School, wearing masks at all times should be made a compulsory affair, hand-washing to be made mandatory during breaks, all the rooms should house sanitizers, including labs, play areas and office areas, however limiting visiting hours by external parties will also lead to less contamination. Sharing is caring, but post-pandemic it can be scary so no food/stationary sharing should be allowed in school. If COVID positive case is detected, then School should collaborate with health officials to track the contact history immediately. Above all regular training sessions on sensitization for students and staff should be conducted in intervals. 

Under the infrastructural guidelines, improving building ventilation is essential, reducing human touchpoints such as door handles, taps, trash cans some areas in the School premise could be labelled ‘safe/prohibited zones’, mark entry and exit routes with 1 meter distance. The School infirmary should be fully equipped including an isolation room. The entry and exit areas should be increased with staggered entry, exit checkpoints and break timings. Classrooms to have limited seating with 1meter distance between desks.  

The need of the hour is to adopt a hybrid model for learning with fully equipped online tools and assessment for evaluations; redesigning and restructuring the curriculum is now a necessity.  

Long Term Measures

“COVID is not a challenge, but a new opportunity for school education in India”. Below are the measures for all the four stakeholders.  

  • Students: Hesitated that in the long run, a hybrid model will emerge which will have a substantial portion of the teaching delivered through online and a new system of student-driven education will emerge. Providing real-life learning through flipped classrooms and make subjective and objective assessment both in physical and online mode. 

  • Teachers: Teachers are the actual drivers and it is highly significant to build their capacity to align with the changing needs of tech-enabled education. One to one mentorship, designing new tools for assessment and enabling teachers to address the learning gaps through customised intervention. 

  • Parents: The involvement of parents has always been inversely proportional to the age of the child but in today’s time, parents should be more involved in the education of their child. Training of parents is paramount as they must be both parent and teacher at home, empowered with tech knowledge so that they can guide the students and track their progress. Parents must play a much greater role in coming days with perfect sync with schools without which learning process for children will be severely impacted. Parents must support the school system for the holistic development of children.  

  • Management: There are five important areas where management needs to give greater emphasis on, such as planning budget for strengthening technology and ensuring safety, supporting human resources, so that if a situation arises they can work comfortably from home, bringing in new technology, not compromising with the happiness index of parents and students and to closely track new regulatory changes; appoint personnel to closely liaise with government. 

New Elements of Future Schools 

As schools navigate their path post-lockdown, they need to incorporate some new elements like small groups of online classes, online doubt clearing, third party online content, one to one mentorship via learning mentors, online co-curricular classes, daily morning online yoga for family, online students collaborative project, virtual teacher training, personalized counselling, website up-gradation for NCERT e-books, frequent parent communication, virtual assemblies, enhanced teaching for NTSE/ Olympiads, online clubs and ECAs, personalized learning, global projects and partner schools, online summer camp, virtual conferences and competitions, virtual celebrations, online practice tests and assessment, and virtual lab classes. 

All the stakeholders of education need to work in cohesion to develop an enhanced system of education for the successful coexistence of the educational institutions.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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