Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) [India], June 30 (ANI/Mediawire): The announcement of the Delhi government to open up schools for students of the higher classes on an optional basis was met with mixed reactions.
While parents were really concerned about the safety of their wards, children seemed enthused by the prospect of being back in school.
Unlike many sectors which have already announced long term WFH policies, education will best be delivered on campus. The key unanswered questions are - How to ensure utmost safety on campuses when the kids return, and till that happens what is the best way to educate?
Schools like The Scindia School, have been ahead of the curve on both those parameters. Even before the school reopened for a short period in January this year, the management put together a set of stringent protocols to ensure the protection of students coming back to the campus. This protocol was divided into three distinct parts.
First all incoming students and staff had to carry a COVID negative test report. They were then isolated for few days and the test was conducted again. Only those found negative could move into their allotted dormitories. All the luggage along with other goods needed was thoroughly sanitized.
Secondly the dormitories, classrooms and the lunch rooms were redesigned to maintain COVID appropriate protocol. SOP's have been put in place to avoid close physical interaction, for example, a split in morning assemblies, extended meal timings, split classrooms and a ban of all contact sports.
Thirdly an exhaustive list of daily SOPs were also put in place which included all washrooms and touch points such as desks, doorknobs, taps, floors, and switches, which were to be disinfected at least 3-5 times a day. Adequate number of soap dispensers have been installed across the entire campus. The school also monitored personal cleanliness, ensuring intake of healthy diet, and monitoring the quality & hygiene of all food.
"The protocol that The Scindia School has developed is elaborate and exhaustive. Last year we put this protocol in practice, when the students came to the campus and it yielded amazing results. The fact that we are on a large 156-acre, campus nestled on a fort, away from the city, helps us protect our students and staff. We are able to create a bio-bubble to keep the deadly virus at bay and our children safe," said Dr Madhav Deo Saraswat, Principal, Scindia School.
Residential schools like The Scindia School have this distinct advantage. The risks at a day school are multiplied as there and just too many touch-points which the school management has no control on. They can only manage the campus environment, but what happens outside is not in their preview.
Given these trying and dynamic times, it would certainly not be wrong to concur that a residential institution like The Scindia School, is in position to offer one of the safest on campus experience apart from all the distinct and exclusive advantages that only a boarding school can offer.
Even as the COVID 2.0 seems to have tapered off in most of the country, the imminent treat of the 3rd wave looms large. Health experts have predicted that the under 18 categories could be most vulnerable. Vaccination which is the only long-term solution to the corona virus has a long way to go, even to achieve herd immunity.
It is thus logical that off-campus education is here to stay for at least the first half of this academic year. Schools which adopted technology-based teaching even before the pandemic hit in last March, have a distinct advantage. The Scindia School tied-up with India's pioneer in IT learning NIIT way back in 2001. The scope of this relationship has only intensified in the last two decades.
Commenting on the association, Rajendra S Pawar is the Chairman and Co-Founder of the NIIT Group "The Scindia School, was the earliest adopter of IT in education. We at NIIT have been working with them for about twenty years. They were among the first schools in the country to offer computers as a subject in the CBSE curriculum. Apart from students the teachers have also been trained to deliver academics online".
Post the first lockdown in March 2020, The Scindia School was one of the first schools to begin classes in April. Teachers at the Scindia school are well trained to build e-content and teach students via videoconferencing, recorded video and audio lectures, presentation slides, podcasts, portable document format (PDFs), worksheets, and activities on emails.
Apart from just academics, the school also conducted various co-curricular activities online. Apart for intra-school debates and elocutions, students also participated and won many laurels in inter-school competitions.
An era of unprecedented uncertainty looms. However, the process of education cannot come to a halt. Till schools become safe to welcome its students, online classes will be the norm. The challenge educators face is how best to deliver this, and how close can that experience be to a physical classroom.
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