Today’s article is the second article to explore the lessons learnt from schools during the pandemic. It highlights information gained from interviews conducted with ECI and ECC staff for the Impact of COVID-19 on the ECD Sector series. Below are a few of the lessons learnt.
COVID-19 Interrupted Social Interactions
One of the main impacts of the pandemic is its effect on social interaction. Due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, social distancing rules were in place to prevent the spread of the virus; as a result, schools were closed and both teachers and children missed out on their daily social interactions. Ms. Davidson, a parent, noted that “my child was concerned about schools closing, he asked why he was not going to school. He also regularly moped and cried that he missed his ‘Aunties’ and classmates/friends.” Similarly, Mrs. James, principal of Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, noted that “the children have asked about their friends and told us that they were missing each other.” For teachers, the interruption in social interactions was also evident, Mrs. Samuels, teacher at Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, noted, “as a team, we lost the togetherness we enjoyed before the pandemic that we had as coworkers and with the children which has not been fully restored.”
Opportunities for Adaptability
No doubt the closure of schools had major disruptions to the lives of children and parents which created challenges for them to continue their children’s education. However, some of these challenges were solved by technological solutions as many schools moved into the digital space. Zoom and Google Classroom became two of the most used media for continuing children’s education during the pandemic. Through this, many teachers were able to gain new skills in distance teaching and how to support children’s remote learning. Mrs. Samuels, teacher at Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, noted that “the Principal of the school hosted a sensitization and training session for us to know about and learn how to use Google Meet and other virtual classroom platforms so that we would be equipped to continue teaching and learning remotely to support our children’s learning needs… with time and further guidance, I was able to use various techniques to improve the delivery of my lessons.” From the ECC’s perspective, the pandemic brought the opportunity to implement well-needed teacher support technological solutions. Ms. Morgan, Manager for Training and Development Unit at the Early Childhood Commission, noted, “the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the Unit to achieve certain goals sooner than expected. These goals include full implementation of online training, online registration and online evaluation of training sessions. Online registration and online evaluation were first introduced in 2019 for only the Legal Requirement Trainings. However, this was not implemented fully until the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As we reflect on the past year and plan for the future, taking stock of the lessons learnt is surely a good place to start and will play a vital role as we look to the new school year in September. Please share with us some lessons you have learnt from the pandemic.