Seating arrangement of students left to individual schools
Yangchen C Rinzin
With the government announcing reopening of schools for class X and XII from July 1, schools are left with only a week to prepare or put Covid-19 preventive measures in place.
Various measures are being explored in schools like making hand sanitisers available in schools, procuring infrared gun thermometers, make hand washing facilities available and bleaching powder for disinfection.
But a majority of schools are yet to decide on the seating arrangement of students to practice physical distance, the most important preventive measures schools must follow.
While some schools have decided to conduct classes in shifts by dividing the students, some are exploring ideas to allocate students in three different classes. For instance, Yangchephug Higher Secondary School has 650 students and the school has planned to have classes in shifts with 325 students in each shift. Some of the boarding schools are also planning to keep day scholar students in hostels to minimise movement.
School officials, Kuensel talked to, said that they are yet to sit together and decide on a seating arrangement and how to conduct classes.
However, in terms of physical preparedness, education minister Jai Bir Rai said that the education ministry has instructed all the schools to ensure that water, sanitisation and hygiene (WASH) facilities are put in place by May 31.
“In terms of WASH facilities, we’re confident, as this was one of the provisions the health ministry had kept if we were to reopen schools,” the minister said. The ministry used the fund from the student’s stipend.
However, lyonpo said that for schools in the four thromdes, preparation for WASH facility is still on, as the thromde had to propose a budget to the finance ministry. The budget was approved and the schools are supposed to complete the work by June 30. Lyonpo added that the need for WASH facilities was also instructed to all private schools.
“We’ve also looked into schools to ensure bleaching powders and sanitisers are in stock. The security guards at the gate will check if students are wearing face masks and check the temperature of each student,” Lyonpo said. “Department of school and education with the health ministry will finalise the decision of identifying health coordinators to respond in case of a local transmission.”
Lyonpo said that the government has made it mandatory for students to wear face masks all the time in the school. Schools would notify all the students to ensure they buy face masks before returning to schools.
On the seating and teaching arrangement, lyonpo said that different schools could devise their own idea, but schools must make sure that all the students are not kept in one classroom. Most schools have at least 40 students on average in a class.
The school planning and coordination division is expected to work and sort the issue of teacher shortage, according to lyonpo.
It was decided that while classes from pre-primary to Class XI would continue to follow the adapted curriculum, Classes X and XII will follow a prioritised curriculum.
The adapted curriculum is a thematic curriculum or different stages based on the Education in Emergency (EIE) I that have engaged students through television, radio and Self Instructional Materials while schools remained closed.
A prioritised curriculum based on EIE II which will be implemented from July 1, is a distilled curriculum that will comprise procedural knowledge, skills, values, strategies and processes.
The prioritised curriculum developed by the Royal Education Council will assess both learning improvement and promotion to the next higher class. It also means teaching-learning will take place face-face.
The curriculum will comprise 65-70 percent of the actual curriculum content based on the remaining instructional time left for the academic year 2020.
“However, this time we expect teachers to put in extra effort to visit students and be available anytime for other classes that will remain close,” lyonpo said. “They can also find ways to call students in a group and help them learn face-face.”
Meanwhile, many principals said that they are still waiting for directives from the education ministry on the curriculum arrangement and reopening of schools.
There are 123 public schools with 80 boarding schools with about 20,000 students. There are 22 private schools (17 boarding schools) with 6,058 students in class X and XII.