In an interaction with the principal of Sarala Birla Public School (SBPS) Ranchi, Paramjit Kaur spoke at length about the school and changing times. Kaur also acknowledged that this phase of no social interaction might have mental and emotional effects on students. She said that the management had already expected a similar situation before the lockdown and had started preparing for virtual classes. Now, school is running smoothly along with the virtual classes and regular morning assembly. Yoga and Zumba have also become an important part to cope up with ongoing pessimistic situation.
Q- How is your school coping up with the Pandemic and lockdown?”
A- The management had expected a similar situation and we were made to prepare for it before it hit us. Our vision was clear by March end, and our teachers had already started getting trained for the virtual phase of education.
The school thought ahead of time and has been conducting online classes since March 30th. They trained their teachers and prepared them for the upcoming change. With the help of the zoom app and YouTube videos, classes and content have been reaching students during the Lockdown. The school overcame the technical glitches gradually and has been running online sessions smoothly now. Along with senior students, primary class students also are being trained for the changing face of education. For primary class students, YouTube videos are being uploaded everyday, each of 20 to 25 minutes. The shift to juniors has made parents equally happy and satisfied.
Q- Were there any issues you faced with the online sessions?
A- We did face technical glitches initially, but later it was all taken care of. Students as well as teachers gradually got accustomed to the change.
Q- In these times of Social distancing, students are faced with restrictions on physical movement and interaction. This has taken a toll on their mental health. Is the school taking any initiative to help students with this?
A- Apart from academic education, physical and mental health are also being paid attention to. Videos on physical fitness, Yoga, Zumba are teaching students to stay healthy in times of the covid-19 outbreak. In order to keep things normalized, regular virtual assemblies are also being conducted by the school. Songs, prayers and national anthem are hummed everyday so students don’t lose touch with their school routine.
The school also ensures to not lose touch with the parents and has been conducting regular parent teachers meetings. The communication is bilateral where the school seeks parents’ opinion to further enhance their performance. Keeping up with students’ mental health, student-teacher interactions now pay focus on counselling and encouraging students to spend quality time with family.
QQ – Do you see an end to the current reality? How are you keeping your students engaged in this new virtual academic phase?
A- We are focusing on educating students through small and analytic modules. Future is unclear and unprecedented, but the face of education is clearly changing.
The School has also undertaken new admissions despite the pandemic setback. Online programs have been organised to help students adjust with the new normal of virtual sessions. One such event was when these little munchkins dressed up as Frontline workers and teachers thanking them for their contribution in fighting the coronavirus. They also recently gave them a 3 week long summer vacation which included a 15 day summer camp.
Q- How do you see this as a change in the education system?
A- This age of online and virtual education has improved our technological advancement. Teacher’s earlier not receptive to technology, this however has improved now. Virtual classes have enhanced students’ listening capacity and attentiveness. We cannot ignore that time spent by students on virtual screens is now more productive. The teachers no longer need to spend exhaustive hours on students, they are rather in a roll of positive facilitators now.
Upon being asked how she saw the new normal, she responded saying the new normal would be “Old normal comprised with the new evolution.”
The new guidelines and rules of social interaction and distance learning for her is not new to India. “It is actually the Indian way of living. The earth has just reminded us to get back to our roots and culture”, she concluded.