The rapidly-spreading COVID-19 has changed the way that governments, corporations and schools are operating. The sudden crisis has imposed a severe challenge for the organisations to come up with a system that makes it possible for the business to run as usual with minimum interruption.
Schools and educational institutions are coming up with novel ways to ensure that learning is not disrupted and the progress of curriculum is as per the plan.
Experts recommend that schools, in particular, take the following steps in order to ensure the safety of all students and to prevent the spread of the virus within the school community:
Technology is a great saviour when human beings are faced with a crisis like COVID-19, where the mobility comes to a halt and people are forced to avoid one-on-one contact in order to curb the spread of virus. Just like the big corporations in world are resorting to technology for a business continuity plan, the schools must also harp on internet and digital tools to ensure that the learning is not disrupted.
Here are a few ways in which GIIS has leveraged on technology and made school processes easy for parent and student community:
- Facility to purchase books online has been launched
- Parents-Teachers-Meet is being conducted through video conferencing
- Parents have been given choice to submit travel declarations online
- School is sharing links for live broadcast of activities that parents would have come to attend to school otherwise
- E-consent and E-payment facilities are offering ease of transaction to parents
Introduce Virtual Learning Opportunities
In our age of advanced technology, virtual learning is easier to implement than ever before. All schools should begin creating plans to put virtual learning in place because this allows students who are sick to stay home without compromising their education.
At Global Indian International School, we have created large-scale Virtual Classrooms that allow students to log in remotely and take lessons from home.
They can engage with the teacher and rest of the cohort and participate in the lessons as in a real classroom. One of the largest benefits of virtual learning is that the recorded lesson can be accessed at any time, so students can refer back to the instruction to better understand the topic.
Establish Overseas Examination Centres
Schools that have campuses in multiple locations should establish overseas examination centres to allow students to appear for examinations, even if they are not currently located in the country of their residence. For example, many GIIS students who attend school in Singapore are unable to travel back to the country from India. Rather than miss their exams, they are able to complete their coursework at the GIIS overseas examination centres in India.
Strict Adherence to Preventive Steps
The schools need to take stringent steps on a daily basis to ensure the safety of the students. Health safety measures advocated by WHO and Ministry of Health should be rigorously implemented by every school. These include:
- Taking students' temperatures regularly, and maintaining records of their temperatures. At GIIS, the temperature check for the students is done twice on a daily basis. Apart from that, parents are encouraged to take the temperature of the students before they start for school in the morning and note the temperature in myGIIS, the internal app used for communication between parents and school.
- Thoroughly disinfecting and sanitising all common areas. At GIIS, common areas such as the canteen, washroom, labs, lift lobby, sickbay and classrooms are all being completely disinfected several times a day. The housekeeping teams are focusing their efforts on sanitising items and areas that are frequently touched, including doorknobs, handles, lift buttons, taps and switches. Surfaces such as desktops and cafeteria table tops are also being disinfected multiple times in a day.
- Educating students on precautionary measures that they too should be taking. Schools need to schedule special training sessions aimed directly at students that teach them the importance of regular, thorough hand washing and provides them with instructions for how to properly wear masks.
Recently, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State interacted with teachers and staff of the GIIS SMART Campus to talk about the overall COVID situation and advise on how to put the best foot forward in managing the situation. The session was quite well-received by the staff and they had a number of questions to ask. In addition to scheduling these sessions, GIIS is displaying video tutorials on all Digital Signage Screens (DSS) throughout the school. These tutorials provide prevention tips, hygiene maintenance advice and instructions for properly wearing masks.
- Strictly adhering to all directives issued by the Health Ministry. The Health Ministry continues to provide additional guidance about the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the community. GIIS has adhered to all directives like asking for travel declaration and sharing all latest updates from Ministry of Health with the parents.
- Cancelling all activities that will result in large gatherings. At GIIS, all the planned school events like sports day have been postponed till the situation stabilises. The school is taking all necessary measures to practice social distancing.
COVID-19 has been announced as a pandemic by WHO, and it's critical that schools are at the forefront when it comes to implementing measures that will help stop the spread of the virus. GIIS is diligently practising each and every precautionary measure and its pioneering initiatives like launching of Virtual Classrooms have been a big source of relief for the students and parent community.