Can Schools Reopen After Coronavirus? Delhi Principal Explains
Ameeta M Wattal says that at some point, schools will have to reopen with government sanction.
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
When can schools reopen their doors? Will all students be able to join at once? Should the syllabus remain the same? Seeking answers to these questions, The Quint spoke to Ameeta Mulla Wattal, Principal of Springdales School in Delhi’s Pusa Road, who said that “at some point or the other, schools will have to reopen with government sanction, no matter how scary the idea might be.”
How should schools be reopened?
Create zones in schools and de-clutter them. Less children should be brought on a rotational basis. On one day, bring in one specific group, like students of the 10th and the 12th grade. On another day, bring in students from class 9th and 11th... at times 6th, 7th, and 8th. Change interval times and don't let students crowd. It's not important that students sit in class from 8 am to 2 pm.
How can younger students be brought in?
Younger students can be brought in for one or one-and-a-half hours and they can be brought in separately. It's important for them to also come in because the school humanises children and helps them socialise.
Should the syllabus be changed?
Can we bring in new ways of teaching? Can we work on project-based learning, create portfolios, give interesting topics to children on which they can think and ideate and develop a scientific temper in their minds? We should start classes like this with them. We have started Atal Lab classes in our school where we ask children to bring together broken articles to create something new and then asses them. We ask them if they can make something out of broken electronics at their home. The brain has to be engaged and a sense of interest, reflection, and innovation has to be brought in. We have to look at such a syllabus.
Can school exams be held immediately?
When we come back to schools, we can't immediately ask for unit, interval and other tests to be conducted. This will be wrong. When the student returns, we have to restore a sense of stability and thoughtfulness. The student will come to school in an unnatural circumstance, where he or she will find open air and an environment in which he or she can think freely. If we make the student sit for an exam and say that we've been teaching for almost two months, it will be wrong.
Can everyone learn online?
In my school, there are 600-700 EWS students. Many of them just have one phone which stays with their mother or father. Can the entire family study on one phone? There are 2-3 children in a family and classes generally go on simultaneously. We have to carefully see how the problem of online learning can be addressed. How will (service) providers come to our rescue? Providers often ask for a hefty licence fee. Now they may offer it for free but will later charge a lot of money. When our country is facing such a crisis, can we pay such hefty fees? No, we can't. Can there be a government handle or platform that all of us can use?
How should students be counseled?
Teachers are also doing good work. But there's no limit to their efforts. Engage and work with children as much as possible. Teachers must keep communicating with children. Because, what else do children want? They only want to be spoken to so that they can feel relieved and stress-free. It is very important to keep in touch. This is why, it is important that teachers who know students personally, must continuously be in touch with them.
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