During the last two years as schools across the country reeled under the pressure of adapting to online teaching owing to the forced school break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, what became a casualty to the virus isn’t just learning but several important events of the school calendar which are hallmark events for both teachers and students.
As classrooms moved to the virtual space, schools were faced with the challenge of coming up with innovative ideas to mark important events like annual days and sports competitions, which also had to be moved online.
Chandrika Banerjee, principal, Magarpatta City Public School, recalled how technology was used to kindle the feeling of togetherness.
“Actually, school is not just about academics or textual learning but so many experiences beyond that. School events are extremely important in the overall development of the students. The students and teachers coming together as a team, practice sessions, costumes, props and everything else, it is so much excitement and important for everyone involved. During the pandemic, none of this was possible in the normal manner. We decided to use technology to our advantage and teachers made a script, students were asked to rehearse their parts and record it solo in costumes and later we edited them and put them together as one seamless video,” she said.
Nirmal Waddan, principal, The Kalyani School, said not just annual days or cultural events but even sports competitions were organized virtually, albeit with a twist.
“It was indeed very challenging to come up with ideas on how to organize competitions virtually but our teachers somehow managed it. For example, if we had to organize a basketball competition. Earlier, we would have two teams on a playground and the team scoring the maximum would win. But in the virtual mode, students were divided into teams and the one who could dribble maximum times in a minute would win. We changed the nature of the competitions or events but ensured that all of them were held,” she said.
However, she admitted to one fact. “The experience, fun and joy is lost online,” she said.
It was this reason why Rahatni’s SNBP School principal Jayshree Venkatraman decided to hold offline celebrations, even if it meant holding 10n annual day celebrations instead of one. “Earlier, our annual day celebrations had a crowd of 500 parents and students along with teachers coming together on one day. During the pandemic, we divided it as per the divisions and called in small batches of 40-50 persons, while our school hall capacity is over 500, so we could maintain adequate physical distancing. Practice sessions of students were conducted online and they just came together a day before the actual performance. But we didn’t do it online because students have faced so much anxiety and mental stress during the pandemic due to all these new adjustments… School concerts are an important stress buster for them which we wanted to conduct for them,” she said.
And where a big annual festival could not be held, schools used creative ways to tweak daily timetables to include creative stress busters for students. While most may miss the camaraderie and excitement of offline school events, some parents said it worked in the favour of students.
Insiya Rangwala, parent of a Class VIII student of St Mary’s School, said, “At the beginning of online class each day, a few students would come together to present something during the school assembly. We really liked this concept as it charged up students for the rest of the day. Our school held many small events like plays and debates online. And I can say in our case, my daughter, who had a small stage fear when it came to performing on stage in front of an audience, has actually opened up due to the online events where the crowd is limited and close-knit.”