Dear Students, Teachers, Alumni, Parents of students and well-wishers,
For this month's newsletter, I'm giving the transcript of my message to the students and parents before we went on summer holiday. It best gives my ideas on our current situation and the way expect the situation, as far as schools are concerned, to unfold - and how we intend to be prepared for the same.
We are due to commence the summer vacations! Yes, under very special circumstances - while we are encouraged by the loosening of the lockdown measures, we will, I am sure, for self-care and the care of others take sufficient precautions.
The precautions we need to take are the very first point I wish to speak to you about. Why will we take the precautions? We take these precautions for our own health safety, for the health safety of our immediate family and because we have a moral responsibility to society to work towards the health safety of each person in the society. Until such time when all persons can be vaccinated against this virus, we need to continue to follow these precautions.
Please bear with me as I go through these with you. I do as an educator - I am doing this for the safety of you, our students and the families of our students. We need to practice these behaviours until they become a habit, so that when we do have to come to school, we will follow these and keep everyone as safe as possible. Please remember that schools will reopen in one form or another before even a vaccine is available and much before we can be assured that everyone has been vaccinated. So learning this is of vital importance - let this be our first holiday assignment!
The first rule says that we should be aware of our personal health condition and if we either have a fever or a cold or recurring cough we should not venture out of our homes. Thus, I request each family to which our students belong to commence taking our body temperatures when we get up in the morning. Generally, the normal body temperature ranges from 36 to 37 degrees centigrade (98.6F). We are advised that if our temperature is 38degrees centigrade (100 F) we should rest. Please note that taking this body temperature for all students at the beginning of the day in school will never be possible as it will result in long lines for long periods of time outside the school - which is a danger in itself. The school will check the temperature of visitors who will come to the school during the day.
Secondly, as we travel, it is very important that we wear a mask. There are two reasons why we need to wear a mask. Firstly - because as we travel, we are surrounded by a number of people and a slight cough or sneeze contains droplets and we need to keep these off our faces - also we might do the same and we want to keep others safe. Secondly, we naturally touch our faces very often - and this is in normal times very good - but because of this virus, when we are in public spaces, we touch many other things and there may virus infected surfaces which our hands touch, and so we need to keep our faces safe from our hands. Of course, when you return home, your house is well cleaned and you do not need to wear your mask. Please note that unless you are wearing a washable mask, the disposable mask must not be used and must be binned - please prepare your own mask or use a mask made out of a handkerchief - but wash it daily.
Next, while we must touch many objects and persons in the course of our daily lives, we are advised to try and let these touches be as limited as possible - the reason again is the realisation that these surfaces may have droplets of the virus we could get them onto our hands and on our faces where they access our systems very easily.
Please make it a habit of touching your face only with a handkerchief. So please carry a handkerchief with you always and wash the handkerchief every day.
We need to wash our hands on entering home, school, etc. Please carry in addition to your handkerchief a small personal hand towel. Using public hand towels is not safe. Please wash the hand towel every day and carry a fresh hand towel with you every morning.
Carry a small personal hand sanitizer bottle with you, in case there is no washing facility and to be especially used if you are going to eat something.
Keep physical distance from people - especially non-family members. We do so as we cannot be fully sure that people or even ourselves are carrying the virus and we want to keep everyone safe. So please do not crowd around people.
So, kindly practice these behaviours well during this month.
While the school will be directed by the government concerning the opening of classes in July, we already know that the CBSE exam students will be coming to the schools to complete their examinations in July.
There have been many ideas being suggested about the reopening of classes in school. This is being considered as it is natural and healthy for children to have a school life and to interact with their peers. While parents will always make the decision regarding their children attending school, schools will reopen sooner or later.
I am preparing the school for reopening with possibly one-third of the students attending the classes on a rotational basis. Please remember, I'm not saying that this will happen - but I need to prepare for all eventualities. This will enable us to have better physical distances maintained while education takes place. In such a scenario, face to face classes will occur with online classes simultaneously. Thus, the school is getting the infrastructure ready - the Tata Class Smart Boards, internet linked to enable google Classroom to run, with access to the white board and resources from Tata Class Edge.
I, once again, commend our outstanding teachers for learning how to teach in a new way and continuing to learn to teach in new ways. Students and teachers, their efforts and work have been hidden from you - you see only the result of all the labour and possibly match the same with commercial companies who offer varied services - I am proud of our teachers - they have done well and continue to do wonderfully well to keep our commitment to you to teach you - our students.
I request parents to help facilitate the access to online education. the markets are opening and in simple ways we can better the access to online services. If your child's only access to a large screen is the television at home - please learn how most smart phones can be connected to the TV - the older models of TV can be connected using a small accessory which offers Comcast. Those who can afford tablets and computers, so much the better.
Students - this an opportunity for us to be responsible in our use of the smartphone, computers and the internet. For too long we have relied on parents and elders to keep rules - students - you must step up to it and take decisions which are for your good. Use the technology and internet in ways which are beneficial for you - realise that using these wrongly will spoil your lives and you suffer most. You are finally responsible and will have to live with whom you grow up to be.
The holidays are upon us - and holidays are also very important - we must take a break from constant work if we are to really work well when we will need to get back to work. So, even given the limitations on travel etc., we may have this year - plan out how to have a good time. While a certain amount of 'doing nothing' is good - it can also lead to boredom - which is not positive - so planning is important even for holidays. So please plan - with those around you.
To help you with constructive things to do the teachers will host on the Google Classrooms (which you hopefully, have entered) various constructive activities for your benefit. Kindly use them.
Please especially focus on the following which are vital for your future lives and careers
1. Fluency in communicating in English - reading / understanding / writing / speaking
2. Your capability in Maths until Class 9 & 10 level is a must for all careers is important - if you are finding this a difficult - please work at it
3. General Knowledge - linked to events of today - so read the newspapers - know what's happening around the world and know the links to events in history.
4. Analytic reasoning or problem solving - what in school terms we refer to as HOTS - the type of questions you get in ASSET - the ability to have this type of reasoning is a must!
So, God Bless you all - let us pray for each other and pray for the world.
Let us spread good will and support to each other.
Thank you !
Br. E V MIRANDA
Principal, St. Columba’s School