“I will miss my friends and my school” is all what Saanvi, a 9-year-old girl, had to say in a gloomy voice when she heard that her school is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
At the peak of the pandemic, nearly 1.57 billion students—more than 90 per cent of total enrolled learners—were affected as school and learning institution closures expanded across 200 countries.
Among the many student surveys administered worldwide, one of the surveys by Young Minds revealed that 83% of young respondents agreed that the pandemic worsened their pre-existing mental health conditions, mainly due to school closures, loss of routine, and restriction of social connections. Moreover, the difficulty to transition into online learning for many schools meant, a disruption in the students’ learning process and delay in them achieving their developmental milestones.
Students like Saanvi, who were studying at Oakridge International School Vizag did not have much of a challenge, as their school was able to seamlessly transition into online learning within a matter of days.
“At Oakridge, Virtual learning has always been a part of our regular learning process, as a result it was easy for kids and teachers to immediately transition to this. Our teachers also have access to our global training portal, Nord Anglia University, where they can learn and share best practices with 13,000 teachers across the globe,” said Amit Jain, School Director at Oakridge International School, Visakhapatnam.
To focus not just on the Cognitive Development, but on Socio-Emotional and Physical development of its students, the school revamped its Global Campus Platform that brings together students from 29 different countries and various other cultures. From the Early Years to Senior Grade students, it encourages them to collaborate, create and learn in a Project-Based Learning environment.
Last year, it had activities for only primary and senior students. While the middle school students interacted with experts from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and turned their homes and kitchens into Science Labs, the senior school students explored life beyond earth. They learnt about ‘Living in Space – Into the Void’ project with Dr Ariel Ekblaw, founder of the Space Exploration Initiative at MIT.
“The students now enjoy their Virtual School as it gives them easy access to their usual lessons, run by their dedicated teacher, direct to their home wherever that is in the world. Alongside their classmates, children can participate in their classes, collaborate on tasks, engage with their teachers and submit assignments for feedback”, added Saraswathi Kalpak.
Now Saanvi says, “I visit the school every day through my laptop. I even have an after-school party with my friends on Microsoft Teams. It’s fun! But I still wish to be in school someday soon.”
YoungMinds – UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health. They carried out a survey with 2,111 young people with a history of mental health needs between Friday 20th March, the day on which schools closed to most students, and Wednesday 25th March, when further restrictive measures had been put in place.