Just as we were gearing up for the term-end and final exam period, COVID 19 presented itself. As the country went into lockdown, so did The Satsang Vidyalayas in Madanapalle and The Chanda Satsang Vidyalaya in Lathira, Uttar Pradesh.
Our immediate concern was hunger and the nutritional needs of our students. The school mid-day meal and high-protein afternoon snack is a critical part of school life for several of our students, lockdowns and epidemics not withstanding. In addition, our parent body is comprised primarily of daily wage workers and domestic help, whose livelihoods were wiped out with the lockdown. Our first response then was to identify families in need of rations, and our support with dry rations to Vidyalaya families in all three locations continued into the end of May. A typical ration pack contains rice, wheat flour, lentils, cooking oil, sugar, tea, salt, spices and soap (tailored to location and need).
As the lockdown continued, an emerging concern became the emotional and psychological well-being of our students. To that end, we began calling students by phone, and enquiring about their daily activities and routines. Many a surprised parent and student received the calls with disbelief that quickly gave way to shouts of joy and excitement. Our phone call check-ins continue and students are also encouraged to call and speak with their teachers at any time. While we were able to reach the majority of our students in the initial weeks of the lockdown, a growing number of parents were unable to recharge their phone services. As the lockdown eases, we hope to reestablish contact with our student body.
This experiment in reaching out to students also brought home the reality that online classes are not possible for the students of The Satsang Vidyalayas. The most we have been able to do is to encourage students to open their text books and read, and to keep a diary. This challenge has also spurred thinking about preparedness for addressing such challenges in the future and how far The Satsang Vidyalayas can go in bringing tools of technologies and remote learning in a practical manner to its students. We also used this time to develop teaching materials and plans for the new session.
Online classes to prepare the children for the 10th Standard examinations are currently going on. Arrangements have been made for smart phones with friends and relatives for these revision classes.
As demand for our school admissions grows, we are developing plans for expansion of school infrastructure in order to serve the most number of families we can who otherwise have difficulty accessing education for their children. For its our joyful, curious, ever striving, ever inspiring children, chiming on a near daily basis-when will school reopen, when will school reopen-who keep us going, in these times of COVID-19.
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