By Mr. Godwin S. Lamuel
Principal - Pushpalata British International School
It had been business as usual in the southernmost part of India as we had been thinking we were far away from the origin of Covid 19, until we heard the fatal knock at the doors, as close as 150km from us.
A chill ran down my spine and the usual coping mechanism started its course in my mind: Denial, Anger, and Acceptance! Of course, I was no exception and though it was not for me, the days unfolded, different from what I was thinking, and I started assessing my health status of mine and compared it against the risk factors published. Achieved a 100% score! For a split second, I forgot the situation and felt elated to see the score of 100%, the usual sense of a teacher. The very next moment, I realised the situation (being a microbiologist) and was terrified to know the probability of dying soon as no assured treatment was available at that moment. The coping mechanism ran its course faster than usual and didn't find time to get angry against Covid19; of course, it was of no use even if I had got angry. I understood my responsibility as a father, husband, teacher, principal, member of society, and as a Homo sapiens.
Strategised things at home and started looking at school. Spoke to children on how to be responsible while doing activities involving respiratory organs. The events were very fast, and we were about to go into lockdown. With the guidance of the School management, we conducted mock online classes, bought required gadgets in good numbers and instructed teachers to get ready for online teaching from home. Online classes started. On the other hand, the School management started assessing various online teaching platforms to choose the best one. And started training teachers on the chosen platform which ran for more than a month. It was very rigorous for everyone and treated both the experienced and freshers alike. It was made mandatory for all teachers to get certified by the online platform provider. To my astonishment, all, including me, got certified within 3 days. Felt the training had its impact.
The School was at its highest extent of preparation possible. Bringing children and parents into the expected mode was the challenge. Many factors involved but the prime one was the concern over the health of the eyes due to increased screen time. The reason behind this was due to the general assumption that Covid19 would end soon and children could forego studies till then. However, within a term, after observing the online classes and efforts of teachers, parents started involving in the learning process of their children.
To have enabled this more effectively, we used an online chatting platform to guide the parents whenever they needed help. Parents and children were in touch with teachers, literally 24/7. This helped the learning process and strengthened the trust between parents and teachers. Now the school has a community where parents, apart from children, are active members in everyday activities.
Above all, teaching became transparent. Parents too started enjoying the classes; of course, in primary levels. Parents became technologically skilled along with children.
At the close of the academic year, attendance in online classes reached more than 90%. Parents understood, the 'new normal. It went to the extent where a parent requested for an online class to continue at least once a week, even after school was to reopen the normal way.
In the process of coping mechanisms, now society has accepted reality. If we capitalise on this moment of understanding to drive the society towards the next level of adaptation - personal discipline and technology-oriented lifestyle - then we can be successful against Covid19.
Personal discipline is a prime concern in our society. We need to be more responsible for our activities so that we can stop Covid19 by following respiratory etiquette, wearing masks, social distancing and getting vaccinated. I still see people wearing masks for the sake of law abidance. This must change and people must wear masks for themselves.
The new normal expects us to be technologically skilled. Everyone must start working towards learning technology and stop advocating conspiracy theories floating in the internet. The basics in technology learning are to be digitally literate. To proceed into this, it is better to understand the risk factors in digital technology and learn how to safeguard ourselves from such risks. Reading the “9 Key Ps” of digital citizenship, by Vicki Davis should be a good starting point (https://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-need-to-know-vicki-davis).
Survival of the fittest is very much true. If we don't adapt ourselves to the current scenario, our (not the whole human race) very existence will be subjective.
Let's work responsibly to develop a strong community in our country.
Stay safe, be optimistic and act wisely.