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The new normal for schools post-covid-19

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Dr Sanghamitra Banerjee

Remote learning is added as a new normal where the trio of teachers, students and parents tried to adopt themselves at light speed to adjust and embrace the new normal says Dr Sanghamitra Banerjee, Principal, Gateway International School, Chennai in a conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Covid-19 has made us reflect on the ways to survive, sustain and build a sustainable future in all aspects. The outbreak of coronavirus has been declared as a PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY OF INTERNATIONAL CONCERN (PHEIC).

I as an administrator truly understand that post lockdown, the schools’ set up needs revamping and the policies need to be restructured to ensure the safety of students.

Also read: Prof. (Dr.) Kalpana Singh, Head Department of Applied Sciences, Greater Noida Institute of Technology: Impact of COVID-19 on education sector

Following basic principles can help students and teachers safe at schools and help stop the spread of this disease.

Recommendations:

1. Follow basic principles:

• Sick students, teachers and other staff should not come to school

• Schools should enforce regular hand washing with safe water and soap, hand sanitizer or chlorine solution and, at a minimum, daily disinfection and cleaning of school surfaces

2. Know the latest facts: Understand basic information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission.

3. Ensure Safe School Operations:

• Update or develop school emergency and contingency plans. Work with officials to guarantee schools are not used as shelters, treatment units, etc.

• Reinforce frequent hand-washing and sanitation and procure needed supplies. Prepare and maintain hand washing stations with soap and water, and if possible, place alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizers) in each classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and toilets.

• Implement social distancing practices that may include:

• Staggering the beginning and end of the school day

• Cancelling assemblies, sports games and other events that create crowded conditions

4. Promote information sharing:
5. Adapt school policies where applicable
6. Monitor school attendance
7. Plan for continuity for learning

Plan for continuity of learning In the case of absenteeism/sick leave or temporary school closures, support continued access to quality education. This can include:

Use of online/e-learning strategies

• Assigning reading and exercises for home study

• Assigning teachers to conduct remote daily or weekly follow up with students

8. Implement targeted health education
9. Address to mental health and psychosocial needs
10. Support vulnerable population

Hence it is recommended to widen our horizons of knowledge to face every undue challenge effectively. To list down the basic things I would personally recommend the following:

1. Recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 (coughing, fever, shortness of breath) in your child

2. Keep children in school when healthy

3. Washing hands properly

India will once again shape up the way it was and we educators will continue inspiring life in the best possible way, creating leaders for tomorrow aiming for a sustainably abled future.

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