School’s Out!

The kids have closed for the December holidays after two or so months of on site learning.

It has not been easy keeping in mind the risks involved, but we thank God there was no Covid 19 incidence on campus. We are not taking it for granted.

The pandemic has seen all of us adapt in many ways, most of all practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, washing our hands and/ or sanitising at almost every turn and avoiding physical touch. The latter is difficult for kids who have had to learn to play without touching each other, communicate without sharing – they have had to adapt to what was their normal language. Thankfully kids are resilient and can adapt much faster than adults, but it has also had a toll on them.

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We have had a lot of people question us on our decision to take the kids back to on site learning. It was not an easy decision to make. Luckily the school is not that big, and they were able to institute various measures to ensure they met COVID 19 prevention protocols as per the Ministry of Health and CDC guidelines. They also kept all the parents constantly updated on the plans to reopen and also took feedback and addressed our concerns adequately.

The school has done its part well. There is a “no mask no entry” policy, you have to have your temperature checked on entry and keep your mask on at all times, as well as practice the distancing rules. This is non negotiable. They have increased hand washing stations with soap around the school and all the classes, offices and accessible areas have “no touch” sanitiser dispensers. All the desks have clear plexiglass screens, are apart from each other, and the kids are not allowed to share any supplies or food with each other. They also do not mingle like before. Lunch, recess and games times are staggered so each year group is in one place at a time, the smaller the group, the easier it is to contain in case of an outbreak. There is an isolation unit on the compound in case of an incident too. Throughout the term there have been constant reminders to all of us to not linger or mingle on site, keep our masks on properly and sanitise constantly.

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As parents, we have an obligation to teach our kids what the expected behaviour is once back in school, and the teachers have been reinforcing this too. I remember my daughter’s teacher preparing the kids during the online classes by having short presentations and Q and As on what to do and what not to do to keep safe on campus. I found it thoughtful of her asking the kids who were not used to wearing masks to keep them on in the house for a few hours in the week before going back to on site learning so they could get used to the feeling of having a mask on for a long time. We are also to report to the school in case we or our family members get infected at home. Sick kids (sore throat, or sniffles or coughs etc ) are not to be taken to school, and immuno compromised kids have been encouraged to learn from home.

I am proud of how well the kids have done in terms of their studies and psychological wellbeing during this time. Letting them talk about how they are feeling has helped a lot. It has been a confusing time for them. Having to be away from their school mates and friends throughout lockdown, and now back to playing without touching each other. Having to talk to each other through the masks that will hide the giggles…it is the simple things like this that matter to them. And we have to keep reassuring them that it is ok to feel sad about it, but it is much better and more important to be safe.

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I will not lie that I have not been anxious throughout the term, I am glad for them to have a break at this time. The Covid numbers here are rising steadily and will be sure to increase after the Christmas festivities as many people are travelling up country in spite of warnings not to do so. We also have general elections in the new year, so might be back to online learning for the first two weeks of 2021. An advantage of this is limited movement and one can self isolate and monitor their health during this period in case of exposure over the holidays. The school has also reiterated on the need to be tested and quarantine as per the government guidelines for those who may travel internationally, before reporting back to campus.

This pandemic has taught us the meaning and importance of personal and communal responsibility. We need to keep safe for each other. We are wearing masks and maintaining social distance not just to protect ourselves and our loves ones, but those around us too.

As we head into the festive season, let us remember to keep safe and set a good example to our children on our human responsibility to not endanger each other recklessly. We all want to be with our loved ones but the risk is not worth it.

Keep safe and enjoy the holidays.

Time for School.

The kids are back to school (on site learning) in a few days. I am obviously anxious and apprehensive, but to be honest we do need to get back to regular programming.

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Schooling from home has been an interesting experience for us. I have enjoyed watching the kids adapt to distant learning quite fast, and impressed by how much effort the teachers are putting in to ensure that no child is left behind.

The kids’ school is not so big, which I think has made it a bit easier than most to adjust. I will not lie that there have been no challenges, but I will give credit where due; they have done an amazing job.

For one, I like that the children do not have to be online for long hours. School work is sent in advance on a weekly basis and the children have been able to work at their pace.

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On an average school day learning from home, the teachers hold a live online session with the children for about 30 minutes. This is great as the kids get to see their classmates, do their presentations if any, and interact with their teachers. This is usually at 9.00 am. After the live class, they can work as per their individual timetables on what needs to be done, with two breaks, just like in school- For snacks and a bit of play and a one hour lunch break. Afternoon sessions may include live class sessions that are usually half an hour or less. These are for the special classes; art, music, French computer and the like. The Physical education teacher also sends videos for their weekly movement activities.

What has impressed me the most is all they would do in school is included in the home learning program. The librarians have also been sending readings of great children’s books, and one can still access the library and borrow books on a weekly basis.

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I know we are privileged in this aspect, and we definitely do not take it for granted. A lot of children have missed out on formal learning. Some private schools have had to close as they could not survive financially in the pandemic. Now as schools reopen there are parents who have to search for new schools for their children. Schools that are struggling on how to maintain Covid 19 prevention protocols because they need to increase sanitation facilities, ensure there is running water, needing space to expand to accommodate increased social distance, desks, and the list goes on and on.

I also wonder how the children will re-adjust to face to face learning, after learning and adjusting to online lessons. Socialising in school will definitely change too. No more games lessons, clubs and sporting for now; it shall not be easy for them to get used to it.

I know the kids have missed playing so freely with others.
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Adapting is not easy. But we can do it. We have to remain resilient and optimistic and keep learning on how to live with the presence of the virus in our communities.

I ask myself this daily.
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Coming out of lockdown…

Would you believe it has been two months of living in lockdown here?

The country is opening up albeit slowly with partial allowances for movement. Personal vehicles are now allowed on the road, but no more than three people in the vehicle, and the public transport vehicles are yet to get back. Masks to be worn at all times when out. Schools are still closed too.

I took a short drive the other day just around our neighbourhood. Well, lots of people were not wearing masks and there were some motorbike taxis out too. Was I shocked? A bit. I know not all folks can access the masks or stay indoors and also the fact that there is no community transmission that we know of YET, could be why some folks seem to be taking it easy.

A lot of people from other places seem to think the approach taken here is working. Time will tell though. The thing about Corona is nobody can be fully prepared or be able to predict its actuality. To say this virus sucks is an understatement. It is taking lives, halting livelihoods, crushing economies as we watch and the health, social and economic implications will be felt for a long time.

One of my major worries is kids and school. What will happen to the kids? Teachers? other staff? Keeping in mind close physical interaction is a big nope; how will our kids play with each other? What if one kid or a teacher falls sick? What happens then?

How are our kids taking all this in? I was surprised the other day when my seven year old daughter used the word pandemic when playing with her six year old brother. We don’t watch news avidly but they are already catching up with the lingo. When they ask about visiting friends or places its always “after Covid, can we….?” My son keeps asking when Corona will end and if it will ever go away ? They also ask if they will be wearing masks forever ? Sigh, so many questions we don’t have answers to.

My kids have been making masks for their toys too- Sad.

It is not easy to talk to our children about it but we have to. And we have to do it in a way that does not scare them. Having a schedule has been working to keep their mind and bodies busy. Not too rigid but something to give this time at home some semblance of normalcy.

Now to talk to them about the changes; that yes, we can move around a bit but still cannot access some places or have people over. Still can’t give hugs and handshakes, keep masks on when out etc.

What kind of a life is this though?