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Safety to be prioritized for schools post covid-19

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Deepa Bhushan

Though learning began in the online space, we would look at going back into the physical format of schooling post COVID – 19 reducing, says Deepa Bhushan, Director Schools, C P Goenka International Schools, Mumbai in a conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

The Coronavirus pandemic changed the way we looked at the world. All that we saw as ‘normal’ no longer existed and we had to gear up to live with the ‘new normal’ Whether it was staying indoors or wearing masks, or washing our hands all the time or sanitizing everything we touched, the upheaval it brought into everyone’s lives across the world was immense. The financial, emotional, physical toll it took on the population in all the countries led to disruption in the way we lived our lives.

Though learning began in the online space, we would look at going back into the physical format of schooling post COVID – 19 reducing. At this point of time we do not know when it will get eradicated or how soon the vaccine will get administered. Taking this into account we have started planning for school reopening once the government directives for schools re-opening comes through.

What safety measures and concerns your school will be taking post-COVID – 19?

We have created standard operating procedures for sanitization and maintaining cleanliness of the school. A safety officer and a medical officer will be allocated for each school who will be specifically in charge of monitoring the safety and health of all within the schools.

Each and every one within the school premise will undergo a training program related to the rules and safety procedures.

Once the school premise is sanitized and ready, we would start school for different sections in a staggered format. Every staff member and parent will need to share their recent health history before they start school. At this point, we are looking at running of classes in two shifts or calling one batch of students every alternate day. To maintain physical distance between the children we would have only 50% of students in each class. Only one student will be permitted to sit on each desk. School hours will be reduced and there will be no assemblies or activities where groups of students have to gather together.

In – school procedures would include strict hand hygiene routine for students and staff, wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and classrooms and washrooms will be disinfected every day.

Based on the number of days within the working year the curriculum will be reworked to ensure key learning outcomes and minimum learning levels are achieved. A hybrid model of online and face to face teaching is being worked on so that students have continuity in learning. The assessment has been reworked to ease the pressure on students.

Also read: International School of Hyderabad and Continuous Learning in COVID time

We also understand that along with the students, teachers too need to be supported. It is not only the physical health safety which is a concern but so is the mental health and emotional health of students and staff a priority. Counselling sessions are made available for students and teachers as part of a Wellness initiative.

Key responsibilities at every level have been worked on in a structured format. Parents as stakeholders in the education system also will be included and will hold accountability.

We will continue to monitor the risks while the school is in action. Though we have planned the processes, due to the uncertainties in the situation the planning may need to be reworked. We are keeping track of practices for school reopening across the world and learning from them. It is a time to collaborate and learn from each other how we will be safely able to get children back into classrooms.

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