The COVID-19 pandemic has caught everyone off guard. This while the national lockdown presents new challenges to schools, principals, teachers, learners and parents.
We would like to inspire and motivate you with our new series “Spotlight on…” where we will look at how schools face these challenges and what tools they use to achieve success.
– Interview with Dr E Wilsenach, Edenglen High School
1. If you had to summarise 2020 in one word so far – what would that word be?
2. What role would you say ITSI’s technology plays during the lockdown and in general?
With all the teachers using e-books and the majority of learners using e-books, it was just natural to carry on as usual with pushing resources, assignments, and additional study material to learners.
3. How do the teachers at your school experience the national lockdown?
They find it frustrating. Teachers belong in the class with the learners to teach, interact, assess, and, above all, stimulate young minds. During the lockdown, face-to-face interaction was missing.
4. What is the parents’ reaction to how your school is handling the situation?
We have extended our Wi-Fi reach to an area adjacent to the school so that parents and learners could benefit from the school’s Wi-Fi without entering the school property. Parents and learners were appreciative of this. The fact that the principal and the school governing body have, in 2015 already, made the bold step to embrace e-learning, has now become the cornerstone of uninterrupted learning and parents realise that. Parents are fully aware of schools where no teaching took place during the lockdown period. It is a win-win situation for all at Edenglen High.
5. How are your Grade 12 learners doing? Are the Grade 12 learners taking this opportunity to stay informed? Are there any additional resources available to help them?
The Grade 12 learners, with the usual exceptions, are on track with the Annual Teaching Plan (ATP) in all subjects. The ATP has been amended by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and this places our learners in an advantaged position in preparation for the upcoming preliminary and final examinations. The teachers were focused throughout the lockdown and every possible platform – e.g. email, SMSs, WhatsApp – was put to use in assisting Grade 12 learners, specifically with tasks, new work, revision, and additional exercises.
6. What about the learners who may not have access to technology? Do you have a specific plan of action to help them catch up on missed schoolwork?
Edenglen High School has an enshrined policy of “leave no one behind”. Teachers were implementing different methods to communicate with all learners. Those learners who had no access to the basic technology were encouraged to get it from friends. We must keep in mind that each household has access to at least one cellphone, which is enough to communicate. Learners who are serious about their education, along with the extreme efforts by the teachers, would and, in fact, did get the information sent out.
7. How is it going with being back at school?
It takes time to adjust to the social distancing routine. Edenglen High did an extensive orientation with each grade before they were introduced back into the school. This assisted greatly in getting education up to speed with the minimum interruption. Teachers are motivated and back at school, however, everyone is acutely aware of the risks involved with COVID-19.
Any advice you could give to other schools?
The cost of a proper Wi-Fi system is a once-off expense, and the benefit is ongoing. E-learning, with a well-resourced and experienced partner such as ITSI, has made all the difference for the teachers and learners of Edenglen High during the lockdown.
For more information on e-learning solutions and offers or to schedule a demo, talk to one of our consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org or 012 941 1546.
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