School decide to not reopen immediately even if lockdown is lifted
The lockdown was expected in Phuentsholing owing to its high risk location, so the schools were preparing for it from the beginning of the year itself. When the government announced lockdown for Phuentsholing Thromde and for southern border dzongkhags on April 16, 2021, the schools in Phuentsholing Thromde immediately switched to online teaching-learning mode, but this year it is much better than last year.
Thromde Education Officer of Phuentsholing, Norbu Gyeltshen said the respective schools have already made the plans and time table and the education ministry has already trained teachers on the learning management system. Besides, teachers are all given google training and teachers are reaching students of classes from PP to class three through WeChat, Telegram, Messengers and social media and the rest of the students are using google classroom.
As of now there is no problem but it also depends upon the situation.
Once the lockdown is lifted, with the consultation with the task force team and education ministry, the schools plan to follow a shift system to thin out the crowds. For example, if a classroom has 30 students a set of 15 students will attend the classes in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon.
All students not having gadgets and literacy level of the parents are the main challenges in the online teaching learning mode but for students and teachers they have had hands- on practice right after resuming the schools. So they are quite used to it and they were prepared knowing that this day would come.
After informal discussion between the principals and the Thromde education office, the schools will not open right away even if the lockdown is lifted and classes will be online and after assessing the situation, the students will be asked to rejoin school.
Principal of Phuentsholing High School, Yeshey Dem said the school was prepared compared to last year and being in the high risk area a lockdown was expected. She said last year online teaching was difficult and it was all of a sudden and they could not do much but this year, from the beginning of the year the school was prepared and a refresher course was done for the teachers and also did a mock drill on online classes for all.
It is difficult and challenging to do google classes for primary classes due to literacy problems with some parents and so they opted for other media.
The online classes are going well and there may be few children who are not able to do it but compared to last year 90 percent of the students are able to learn through online classes.
Phuentsholing high school has more than 900 students so to ease the crowds, the school will follow a shift system when the lockdown lifts. Morning sessions will be for the higher classes and the afternoon session for lower classes until the situation becomes fine.
Some parents were sharing that some children are without gadgets and some without internet data. And some were sharing if the data can be given free since there are parents who are not able to afford it, said the principal.
She said some parents have three to four children and it was difficult to take online classes having just one or two gadgets with them, so the school had to reduce the session.
In one way online teaching-learning is safe otherwise, face to face learning is similar to spoon speeding them. Now children are exploring and learning themselves.
Similarly, other schools were all prepared with the online teaching-learning if incase there was a lockdown. The principals shared that this year it will be much better and easier as compared to last year.