From grief counselling to training sessions on life skills, schools in the national capital are devising innovative ways to reconnect with students when they return to online classes after an extended summer break.
On April 19, the Delhi government ordered public and private schools in the Capital to close for the summer vacation, three weeks earlier than planned amid the unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases and continue with the break till June 9. Between March and May, Delhi recorded over 786,000 Covid-19 cases and 13,000 fatalities.
While most private schools will start their online classes beginning June 10, a Delhi government official said that the directorate of education (DoE) is expected to come out with guidelines on the semi-online mode of teaching for public schools in the next few days.
Several principals, teachers, and counsellors in the city’s schools said children had been affected by the pandemic – either directly or indirectly – and schools needed to engage in hand-holding once they reopened for classes after the summer break.
For instance, Mount Abu Public School will start a “stream-readiness programme” for Class 11 students and a life skill programme for children from classes 6 to 12. As part of the latter, students of different classes will be taught different activities like basic first aid, disaster emergency, training on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and even filing income tax or changing car accessories.
Principal Jyoti Arora said the school has been holding training sessions with teachers and emphasising the need to connect with parents and students differently than before. “We will focus on experiential learning and make teaching-learning engaging so that even if students feel low on energy, they are interested in the activities,” she said.
The school has also changed the format of its parent-teacher meetings and will be encouraging students to talk during the meetings to ensure the communication is smooth, she added.
Several other schools in the Capital said they are also focusing on teachers’ training. Madhulika Sen, senior adviser at Tagore International School, said, “Teachers have been asked to keep an eye out for students who are absent, not responding, avoiding eye contact, or are looking lost. The plan is to observe and focus on students who need help, speak to their families, and draw them out.”
Sen also said the school will focus on creating a positive environment for students and inculcating empathy. “Teachers have also been trained to address the issue differently in junior and senior classes,” she said.
Along with creating a safe space for students, schools will also focus on grief counselling for those who have lost their parents or family members to the pandemic. “We will hold group therapy sessions with students who have lost loved ones. Though we had been in touch with them even during the summer break, they will need some hand-holding once they return to classes,” said Manveen Kaur, a counsellor at Amity International School in Saket.
Schools will also have a specialised approach for different classes. “For instance, while we focus on hand hygiene and helping in housework for younger children, for middle and senior school, we will focus on health and encourage them to share their experiences in a group if they want to,” she said.
Even government schools in the Capital are planning new activities for students. For instance, the Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum for classes 9 to 12 is set to see significant changes. Sapna Yadav, director of the project, said, “We will be starting with weekly online theme-based classes to be conducted by teachers with students on video conferencing platforms and it will also be streamed live on YouTube. The classes will cover an activity or a story followed by worksheets on the same theme.”