Safe ways to get Back to school 11 Mar 2022 Sandy Hooda, Co-Founder, Vega Schools

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After almost two years of virtual learning our children are now back in physical school. 

Over the past two years so many children have not interacted with children their age. Many haven’t studied or played with friends. While virtual learning ensured there was no learning gap, it couldn’t effectively bridge the social and emotional gaps. Children learn so much from each other - in terms of developing emotional intelligence, learning how to get along with others, and understanding how to influence others. Most of all, children are the happiest when they are together. 

Given that physical connections are non-negotiable, it is the responsibility of parents, educators and schools to ensure children are not deprived of physical connections and happiness in the future. 

How can we do this?

Comply with WHO guidelines

Schools can make their campuses fully compliant with WHO guidelines. The WHO has carefully thought through measures that can make the school environment Covid safe. Schools need to invest time, money and energy in implementing these. Parents need to be aware of these guidelines and make sure schools enforce them. 

Open learning spaces

Over the past decade, enormous research has been done in the design of learning spaces. Walls are being removed and classrooms are being opened up. The most progressive schools in the world are doing away with boxed classrooms and instead building open plan spaces where the learning areas can be completed figured based on the lesson of the day. The opening up of classrooms can have a safety benefit in the post Covid world as open classrooms naturally enhance social distancing. 

Air purification 

The Delhi NCR area, and in general north India have very high levels of air pollution. A few schools have led the way and built air purification based AC plants that not only bring in fresh filtered air in, but also circulate the stale air out. These filters and fresh air (TFA) units have a dual use and are useful in minimising the spread of coronavirus in indoor spaces. 

Outdoor classrooms 

Schools can think about investing in outdoor classrooms covered by trees or tensile fabrics. On days when air pollutions levels are low and weather is good, children can learn outdoors. This is not only safe but also creates a natural learning environment, just like the old days of the Gurukuls. 

Track and trace 

Schools need to be fully transparent with parents about incidents of Covid across all grades. Timely information to parents about cases can help in better monitoring and isolation.

These measures need to be implemented across the school, be it a nursery school, kindergarten or a primary school. Middle and senior schools also need to be redesigned and equipped.

Parents also need to be mindful of these facilities, especially at the time of a pre-nursery admission or a nursery admission. 

Some of the top 10 schools in Gurgaon have one or more of these facilities. There is an urgent need to build out as many of these facilities, and build them now. Be it a CBSE school near me, or an IB school, these are important measures to keep our children and families safe, and to keep them happy.

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