Global Pathways School Endures and Responds to the Pandemic
The past twelve months have been unlike anything we have ever experienced. What started as vague reports of a mysterious illness in central China quickly exploded and became a global pandemic throwing billions of people's lives into disarray. When I closed Global Pathways in mid March, I had no idea that it would be almost a full year before we would be resuming even partial operations.
India’s first pandemic lockdown was one of the strictest in the world. Businesses, factories, construction projects, colleges and schools were ordered closed with only four hours notice stranding millions of workers and leaving households and families completely unprepared.
Shutting the school down created many challenges including what to do about final exams and grades, cancelation of our first graduation ceremony, how to manage their college and university applications, and what we could do to keep our students engaged to prevent serious learning loss. Around the world educators were sounding the alarm that closure of schools was having an adverse impact on students’ social development and mental health leading to depression, anxiety, mood swings, sleep difficulty, behavioural and personality changes. Add in factors of extreme poverty - increased unemployment, financial stress, food insecurity, and heightened anxiety - and the Global Pathways School community could have experienced a real catastrophe.
"I am proud to say that our staff and Boards, both in India and Canada, rose to the challenge and ensured that we mitigated the effects of the global pandemic on our community."
I am proud to say that our staff and Boards, both in India and Canada, rose to the challenge and ensured that we mitigated the effects of the global pandemic on our community. A Go Fund Me drive raised enough money to ensure that over 100 of our most vulnerable families received food provisions every month. Salaries for our teaching and non-teaching staff were paid every month. Teachers came together online to design home learning packages that were then printed, copied, and distributed to all students from Lower Kindergarten to grade 6 every week. Whatsapp groups were created for our upper school classes from grades 7 through 12, term I and II texts were distributed, and our teachers went online to deliver the curriculum. Teachers met with their students online and also provided feedback and encouragement by phone. Through a very dark period, Global Pathways School continued its mission successfully.
In January, the authorities finally lifted restrictions on school reopening and we welcomed our grades 10 and 12 students back into the school for face to face instruction on January 19th to commence term III material. Grades 9 and 11 were permitted to return on February 8th.
Unfortunately, plans to reopen for younger grades did not come to pass as political uncertainty in Tamil Nadu, and then a major covid 19 resurgence, led to more lockdowns. Our grade 10’s and 11’s have all been promoted, and grade 12 exams for this year remain to be rescheduled. It is my fervent hope that the 2021- 2022 school year for all grades will resume in June as normally scheduled.
I acknowledge that home learning worksheets and online virtual teaching is second best. There is no substitute for face to face interactions between learners and teachers. Learning loss will need to be factored into our curriculum planning for at least the next school year or two. Nevertheless, I am very proud of the extraordinary efforts of our teachers this past year and am confident that it won’t be long before the happy sounds of learning return to all the classrooms, corridors, sports fields, and playgrounds at Global Pathways School.