Sustainable Education for the Kids of Health Care Workers
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic – our darkest time – people are making personal sacrifices to get society through this hardship. With frontline workers gaining recognition as the heroes, I started to probe into the question: how could a school serves to help health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak?
Vancouver Coastal Health staff members are urging people to stay home. (Middle) Schools have been closed to general public during Covid-19 since March. (Left and Right)
On one hand, according to the school policy announced by the Ministry of Education, BC schools remain open to children of essential service workers. On the other hand, the school attendance rate is rather low. For example, with more than 500 enrolled elementary students, no more than five pupils gathered at St. George’s Elementary School. It is disconcerting for these little ones: empty classrooms and halls, no face-to-face instruction, no regular teacher, and no regular classmates.
The learning method at school is also online or self-study, not much different from that at home. https://ottawasun.com/opinion/letters/you-said-it-online-learning-no-answer
From the research I have done in the past month, I find that the problems with the school program , including academic support and child care service, during Covid-19 can be categorized into 3 sections – transportation, food and interactive learning. Firstly, without a school bus and the help from others such as grandparents, healthcare workers have to drive their kids by themselves in order to comply with the social distancing rule. Secondly, since the school’s kitchen has closed and the water fountain has been turned off, the health care workers have to make extra preparations for school. Thirdly, kids who need to go to school are actually not seeing their regular teachers, not meeting their regular friends, nor sitting in their regular classrooms.
Since school kitchen is closed, water fountain is turned off and food delivery is not allowed, parents would just prepare simple cold lunch to save time.
A student waiting in line for the bathroom at the Essential Serivce Workers School in the West Vancouver School District. Students can only be in the bathroom one at a time to ensure social distancing.
To solve the problems, I have the following suggestions. Firstly, volunteer drivers can be recruited through the Parents’ Association. With appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment), the risk of driving a kid to school is rather low. Secondly, food delivery from registered volunteers should be allowed to drop off in the designated area. Thirdly, the “Buddy Reading” project or similar tutor pairing program can be launched. The volunteer students from senior school can pair with these kids in junior school. No matter offered with an in-house story telling (with a safe distance) or an online homework tutoring, a kid won’t feel lonely while studying on a machine.
Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, a family picks up school lunches served out of a school bus.
These initiatives would not be possible without the efforts of many, including the support from the school authority. From this project, I understand not every health care worker will find a suitable school that provides ideal care service and/or in-class instruction for children. But we can support them the best that we can. With the collaborative effort, we can make a difference in the lives of those who continue working to save others’ lives during pandemic.