Education in the time of Covid

(with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

            “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)

Friday March 13th 2020 – The Coming Storm

MS Exams were scheduled to be held from Monday 15th March. In a matter of a few hours we were able to shift to holding exams online thanks to the fact that we already had all students with iPads and that our learning platform iTunesU had been deployed and in use for five years. Exams were conducted successfully till the end of March in spite of the national lockdown that began on March 24th.  We knew where we wanted to get to.

The Continuing Storm – All schools closed indefinitely.

We knew where we were going and how to get there

Online classes began on the 1st of June 2020.  Teachers spent the months of April and May preparing for online delivery of the curriculum. We had an advantage as for the past 8 years students have had iPads and all of our subject courses had been digitized using the Apple iTunesU platform.

When we began in June, students were registered in each subject course.  An online timetable was prepared that included not just academic subjects (English, Math, Sciences, Second and Third Language, History and Geography) but co-curricular subjects (Craft, Art, Indian Music, Western Music, Drama, Physical Education) as well. Using government issued guidelines about screen time as well as with input from our counselling team,

We followed a mixture of online and offline classes, ensuring the students had adequate rest breaks between lessons.  There was also a ‘no homework’ policy in effect so school work ended at 2 p.m. every day. The student’s day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 2 p.m. The mid-term exams were also conducted online as per the school calendar.

All information was communicated to parents and students and various online surveys were conducted regularly seeking feedback from parents and students.  Suggestions from both students and parents were incorporated into the programme.  At parent/teacher conferences which were held online in September 2020 and in February 2021, the feedback from parents was overwhelmingly positive.

A point must be made here that teachers were working for far longer in the online format due to continuous planning and the formative assessments conducted.  As well as working on summative assessments.  A progress report card was sent at the end of the first term as is the norm.  A final report will be sent in April after the final examination is held online between the 15th and 31st of March.

Extra support has also been provided by teachers for students with learning disabilities and for any student who requested extra help for one hour after 2 p.m. every day since June.

June 2021 – Practice makes (not quite, but) perfect.

Classes reopened on Monday 7th June and we have successfully delivered our online programme again for the last four months. We are now looking forward to start a limited in-person programme beginning on October 21st