Experts call for protocol to ease back-to-school transition

Need to address students’ emotional and sociological well-being

As the State gears up for school reopening, academics and teachers are calling for a protocol that will ease students’ transition to the school environment after such a long gap caused by COVID-19.

Besides health standard operating procedures, they stress effective planning so that students’ emotional and sociological well-being is assured when they return to school.

Amruth G. Kumar, head, School of Education, Central University of Kerala, says this ‘education’ protocol needs to be given serious attention so that whatever students have been deprived of during the period away from school — be it peer skills, communication skills, how to handle ribbing from friends, communicating with the opposite sex, their sense of identity and so on — can be compensated. Pre-primary and primary students for whom this time forms the foundations of their schooling and adolescents who may be facing psychological turbulence need special attention. While some kind of educational experience should be there, it should not be a continuation of the online classes that focus on completion of the syllabus, but rather a kind of bridging that will address each child’s emotional and psychological needs and slowly orient them towards the learning process. Even if this stretches the academic year by a couple of months, it should not matter, says Mr. Amruth. Doing otherwise will create a generation with serious adjustment problems, he says.

Equip them mentally

All Kerala School Teachers Union State president N. Sreekumar says students will need to be mentally equipped to resume studies. Their physical abilities needed to be enhanced to ensure their wellness before regular classes begin.

Students in Classes 1 and 2, who might not have seen schools at all, needed to be introduced to the school environment only gradually. The number of hours they spend in school be limited initially to enable this adjustment. The school environment should be conducive to their mental recreation.

Training to teachers

More than academic activities, art and physical education will have an enhanced role in easing this transition. Even older students need to be brought back to some kind of routine and schedule that was missing during online classes. Teachers will have to be trained to meet these challenges, says Mr. Sreekumar.

Another area that needs attention is the curriculum. As concepts are learnt in a hierarchical structure, portions that students have not been taught much will need to be reinforced before the full curriculum is taught. The syllabus this year may need to be reorganised in the light of what they have learnt earlier, Mr. Amrut points out.

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