Currently, schools in India are pursuing a hybrid model of education that integrates online and offline classes. Teachers use online applications, such as Google Meet and Zoom, and the traditional chalk-and-talk format to engage students at home and in the classroom. Thus, schools need to create learning modules that work within this framework for both teachers and students.
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First, there are learning gaps among students affected by financial stress, poor health and mental trauma. Biswajit Banerjee, Principal, Vidyanagyan Leadership Academy, Bulandshahr, said, “For teachers, it is a new responsibility to identify these gaps and plan lessons keeping in mind the individual needs of each student. Second, some students have expressed concern about leaving their home and being less focused. Teachers, on their part, are focusing on slow-moving curriculum and allowing students to adapt to learning in the classroom, Banerjee said.
Third, the school lockdown had limited social interaction among students, creating another crisis. “For students, especially for our young students, getting used to the social environment was again challenging,” said a spokesperson for Shiv Nadar School Noida.
In the end, the daily class routine from morning to evening was awful for the students, Banerjee added. Several schools are experimenting with different class-scheduling models to adapt students to their daily routines. Pause start, break, dismissal times are new normal for increasing physical distance. Following the example of Germany and South Korea, some schools have started classes in alternate shifts in the morning and afternoon. Others conduct classes on alternate days, a measure widely adapted in Belgium and Switzerland.
These options are helping students deal with daily routines and separation concerns. Sharing an example, Renu Singh, principal of Amity International School Noida, says a 12th grader is struggling with anxiety about leaving home, a comfort zone, initially unable to reach school in the morning. The intervention of a counselor and the Letshift class helped the students overcome the problem, the principal said.
Singh added that the student returned to the morning schedule a few days later and is currently attending regular classes. “Dealing with such psychological symptoms involves calming children, understanding the causes of their reluctance and sharing with them small, structural steps to help them overcome obstacles,” he said.
According to Singh, it is a task to ensure that students reach school on time. In another case, school authorities saw a 10th grader pinning for family members and her pets as soon as physical classes began. Not only has the student recently lost her favorite teacher in Kovid-19, her grandfather was also ill at home. “The personal attention of the class teacher and the personal counsel of the school counselor inspired her to overcome her frustration. He has learned to put his thoughts aside and channel his energy by writing blogs, “said Singh. The role of an educational institution is to help students develop confidence, motivation and adaptability to learning regardless of the situation.
Now, several schools are focusing on improving collaboration and teamwork among students. Regular virtual interactions in formal and informal formats have enabled students to share experiences like in a classroom, says Shiv Nader spokesperson. “We pay close attention to the social and emotional development of children and offer regular counseling sessions to students, staff and parents,” the spokesman added. Schools are also focusing on timely breaks with activities such as dancing, singing and games to make it easier for students.
In the meantime, most government schools have admission classrooms. But a number of private schools like Amity, Shiv Nadar and Delhi Public Schools continue to offer online classes to juniors mainly due to lack of parental consent for physical classes. Out of 6,147 students at Amity International School Noida, 98% of students in grades 9-12 and a small portion of junior students are attending physical classes. Similarly Shiv Nadar School Noida has 1,903 students out of which only 250 are participating in physical classes.
Following the international guidelines, there is strict application of the Covid Protocol on the school premises to ensure the well-being of the students. Most schools have sanitary as much as possible and have assigned security personnel to use masks and sanitizers in classrooms and corridors and to enforce social distance. However, the mask mandate was not easy for everyone.
Anu Sharma, a primary school teacher in Atta village near Sector 26, said that sometimes, teachers have to take off their masks during class. “We are most at risk because sometimes we take off our masks during class so that the students on the last bench can hear us. Also, junior class students are generally restless and require observation in order to maintain the masked and codified protocol of social distance, ”Sharma said.
For parents, this has been a completely different ballgame. Nivedita Mishra, mother of a Class 9 student, said, “The challenge is to come up with a new schedule that involves children going to school and taking online classes.”
Mishra said the children have become accustomed to the lockdown routine, with parents meeting their needs and working from home. “Now, we need to take the time to prepare tiffins and maintain the uniform with the care of everyone. It will take some time to adjust to the new setup, ”he said. Mishra said school buses still do not run, getting to and from school is another challenge.
Parents’ groups and associations feel that it is too early to discuss reunification. Also, they claim that school counseling sessions have not been as beneficial to students as the school claims. “Sessions are very simple. The school counselor is not paying personal attention to the students, ”said Jitendra Kasana, president of the All Noida School Parents Association (ANSPA).
“For successful reunification, teachers should take relatively small classes. Students should not be overburdened,” said Manoj Kataria, founder, Gautam Buddha Nagar Parents Welfare Association (GBPWS). And reading has lost momentum and they need to hold hands and be encouraged to rediscover the skills of that classroom.
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