Learning with masks

How will you handle another disrupted school year?

The past academic year commenced with an unprecedented mix of innovation, improvisation and isolation, as schools all over the world rushed to rethink safety, remote instruction, SEL and beyond. 

From fall to spring, through all the spikes in COVID cases, the rolling campus closures, the approval of vaccines for adolescents ,school communities did their best to pivot and adapt to the twists and turns that made the past nine months an academic year unlike any other. 2020 was the year we did the best we could in an impossible situation, 2021 is poised to be the moment the countries turns the page and doubles down on education as a post-COVID priority. Here in Al Hekma International school (AHIS) and to continue coping with the current situation we are currently offering our students two learning modalities: Attending and Streaming.  Streaming allows teachers to apply the same pace of teaching with everyone within the classroom without fear of leaving anyone behind. Students at home log into a videoconferencing platform(zoom) at the start of class. Everyone, whether in class or remote, can listen to the same lesson, ask questions, and receive feedback on independent work. Students who are streaming can see their classmates and feel like they’re part of the same community. Live streaming applications also allow interactivity from the students, which allows the possibility of a more connected experience, with the addition of comments and live questions.

The attending approach includes a return to regular class sizes and face-to-face classes with social distancing in accordance with current guidelines. Our students will be grouped in consistent cohorts witch we call bubbles, these cohorts will remain together throughout the day in the same classroom or other designated areas of the school campus as much as possible, and teachers will change locations instead of students. Students will spend most breaks in the classroom.

AHIS students and staff are required to wear face masks and keep appropriate social distancing when in the school building.

Temperature screening and screening questions will be taken as each staff member and student enter the building.

We designated an isolation room where students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms are to be placed while they await pick-up and safe exit from school campus.

Instructional models where developed and planned appropriately and flexible to meet the needs of streaming and attending students.

Clear protocols are in place to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily and, as practicable, regularly throughout the day.

We prepared ahead, so that our students can return safely, healthily and happily to school.  In Al hekma we are meaningfully continuing the education of our students in ways appropriate to current circumstances but with fundamental student needs, compassion and kindness at the forefront. This is why our theme for this year is ”Resilience”.

Even in the absence of a crisis, distant learning is changing lives for many. It truly is opening the doors to the future of education. Learning is no longer restricted by physical limitations. With the support of a professional streaming platform, educators can easily stream live. Online learning and technology integration can certainly be effective, for example, video in an educational context can facilitate learning and improve collaboration. It can also increase student engagement and the teacher’s effectiveness. The preference towards this style of learning should be taken as reassurance that young students do enjoy learning online, and no students learn better than those who are eager for class.

Just like shopping malls, movies theaters, and office buildings, school buildings will see their need diminish as learning becomes an anywhere-anytime reality. Changes brought by AI and robotics, the aging of the population, advances in technology, and decades of domination by an antiquated school structure make the return to old teaching styles before COVID unrealistic.