To ensure safe learning and teaching environment with the opening of the schools across the country, schools adopt innovative and strict COVID-19 protocols.
Besides schools following the COVID-19 protocols like using mask, washing hands and maintaining social distancing, each schools have their own innovative and strict strategies to ensure safe learning and teaching environment for the students and the teachers.
The vice principal of Changzamtok Middle Secondary School, Tshering Saydon said, “The students movement are restricted from one block to another and they are identified with different color ribbons so that students from red block don’t move to the blue block”.
The meetings were and will be held virtually for the academic year 2022 and also in the classes the teachers encourage students to keep the windows open for proper ventilation. “We also have isolation room incase if a student turns up with high fever and feels sick,” said Tshering Saydon. That is how Changzamtok Middle Secondary School is taking measures inorder to ensure safety among students.
The school management also thanks the selfless service of the De-Suups for facilitating the school’s COVID-19 protocols.
Likewise, the school management held a several virtual meeting before the reopening of school to discuss about how to ensure safety learning and teaching environment. “Following the MoH COVID protocols is very important and the students are asked to wash their hands while entering the school, while going to washroom and even before and after each period”, said the vice principal of Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School, Pema Wangchuk.
Pema Wangchuk said, “When it comes to mask, the students have to wear it all the time and if they are seen without a mask, we have set a separate punishment for them”.
The students are refrained from going to other classes too, a strategy to control the spread of the virus.
Changangkha Middle Secondary School has a COVID-19 checklist and is maintained by the class teachers.
Health Coordinator of Changangkha MSS, Tshering Lhamo said, “Every morning the class teacher make sure that the students do not have flu like symptoms and then the class is ventilated”.
After the COVID-19 checklist is noted, the teacher then reports it to the COVID-19 focal person.
“Inorder to minimize the interaction between the students, we have few measures in the school. Firstly, by conducting assembly inside the class, then secondly, the toilets in the school are also divided among the class and the final one, the hand washing stations are also divided among the classes” said Tshering Lhamo.
The school management encourages students to have lunch in smaller groups to lessen the transmission of the virus.
The school usually opens on February but due to the lockdown the school just reopened and the syllabus has been delayed by two months. To cover the syllabus, schools with adopting COVID-19 measures, they have strategies to cover the syllabus too.
Changzamtok Middle Secondary School has increased the instructional hours to make up for what they have lost. The vice principal, Tshering Saydon said, “For example, in class PP, for English subject in a week as per our Curriculum, the instructional hours allotted by the Department of Curriculum Division which was called by the Royal Education Council, it was only 240 minutes but this time we have 350 minutes, which is almost three periods”.
On the similar lines, the vice principal of Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School, Pema Wangchuk said: “We had a meeting about the increasing duration in each period. Usually it was only 40-50 minutes per period but now we have extended it to one hour per period”. The school management even had a meeting and pre-planned if incase there will be a sudden lockdown. Pema Wangchuk said, “We collected the student’s information and kept all ready”.
The Changzamtok MSS and Yangchenphug HSS school management are also planning for remedial class to keep up with the syllabus for the academic year 2022.
According to Health Coordinator of Changangkha Middle Secondary School, Tshering Lhamo, the school don’t have to make-up for any losses for the academic session. “The school is comfortable with the syllabus coverage as the Ministry of Education has already planned and notification has been circulated, so we’re working accordingly,” she said.
The students are well aware of the seriousness of the COVID-19 surge and measures to keep themselves safe. A student of Changangkha Middle Secondary School, Kritika Subba said, “I wear my mask wherever I go, as I heard health workers saying that the virus gets through our nose and mouth”. She also sanitizes her hands, avoids mass gathering and maintains a physical distance of six feet.
Another student from Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School, Tashi Wangchuk Dorji said, “I wear my mask all the time but if I want to take it off, and then I go to a safe place so that I don’t spread the virus if I got it already”.
According to Bhumika Giri, a student of Yangchenphug HSS using double mask is very safe. “So, to keep myself safe I use double mask and I avoid eat alone while in school so, it’s safe for myself and my family members,” she said.
COVID-19 has a great negative impact on the mental wellbeing of everyone and especially school going children. After the reopening of school, the school counselor plays a vital role in preparing the students mentally ready for the academic year ahead.
According to Tashi Zangmo, Counselor of Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School, they started so called ‘Remote Counselling’. “It’s a new concept for all the school counselors and is basically providing telephonic counselling as in social chats”. She said. This was introduced so that especially during lockdown they could reach out to as many student as possible not just the one who was affected by the COVID.
Tashi Zangmo said, “ After joining the school after staying home for quite some time, there are some student who are demotivated and continue their education so, inorder to uplift their motivation the school started a program called ‘Psycho Social Support Services’,”.
The program basically teach the students how to recognize the source of stress for them and then how are they going to deal with the stress.
“There are not many people who really give importance to mental health so, I would like to encourage especially to the one who is affected emotionally to come forward and seek not just counselling service, you need to come out and talk your friends, to your parents and establish a bond to make yourselves free from the thoughts that are bothering you” said Tashi Zangmo.