There is some greatness in each of us but sometimes it cannot fully emerge unless we are tried and tested by adversity.
Covid-19, the unprecedented adversity, posed many challenges and transformed them into opportunities in school life. Caught unawares, just before the declaration of the final examination results for all classes for the academic session 2019-2020, those were the chaotic days of uncertainty as well as a time to find ways to proceed further. Faith and relationships seem credible when things work as expected but are difficult to sustain when things go askew. God has been more than kind – honouring His promise of being on our side through these trying times. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you,” are not mere words in the Bible but tangibly experienced during these pandemic days.
The year 2020 can be called the year of “New Normal”. Yes, it was new in terms of the unprecedented way in which the whole world had to stay indoors for months on end due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was the medical and teaching facility who dared most to be in the forefront of action – the medical faculty rendered their services whole-heartedly, risking their own lives. The large number of teachers and students flung into action through the tech-based online teaching-learning process. Though the school family was within the four walls of our homes, it was a time where we were faced with new opportunities and many challenges. As nobody could step out of their homes, ‘online’ became the new mantra – online classes, online examinations, online purchases, online visits, online meetings, online farewells and even online funerals and cremations. Everyone soon adopted these new normal features without any other choice.
Heading the institution at this time of the pandemic was very challenging and demanding. Covid-19 opened the doors to evolve and discover innovative ways of the teaching and learning processes. We re-oriented the curriculum and pedagogy. Advanced technology coupled with the team-spirit of the Management and staff of PCS, began the online classes with enthusiasm only to evolve more with time. Teachers were in for transition to the virtual classrooms with the help of suitable online strategies, techniques and training in order to keep our students engaged creatively and academically. Amidst ambiguity, PCS began the virtual online classes for the enthusiastic and knowledge-seeking young minds. Those were days of enquiries, detailed studies, group discussions, planning, preparation and execution. The whole school from K G to class XII went into a virtual learning classroom previously never envisaged but now a reality! Staff and students both got an exposure to webinars and virtual learning, while staying safe at home. The catch word of the pandemic time was “Stay Home, Stay Safe”.
It was indeed very encouraging to see the positive response of every citizen to the call of our honorable Prime Minister and the Government to “stay home”. It was probably the first time in the history of the world that all the countries closed their borders and asked everyone to self-quarantine and stay safe.
We went beyond classroom teachings. Though this pandemic has kept us away from physical get-togethers, it did not deter us from celebrating and observing important events of the school calendar. Celebrations of Founder’s Day on 26 April, Labour Day on 1 May, Mother’s Day on 10 May, Environment Day on 5 June, Teacher’s Day on 5 September, Children’s Day on 14 November…etc provided us ample opportunities to work as a team while working online from the comforts of each one’s home. ‘Eco-Fiesta’ an inter school competition with the aim of conscientizing the students towards their responsibility to protect and preserve Our Mother Earth brought the desired outcome with commendable participation from various schools within the city and other states too.
For the first time ever in the history of PCS Delhi-6, an online farewell programme was organized to bid adieu to the then School Manager, Sr Priya, a milestone etched in the school annals.
While students staying at home and attending virtual classes may have been the best option, absence of friends and the luxury of a school environment will deprive them of a very vital aspect of their learning and development. To bridge this gap, online competitions, classes for yoga, art and music have been organized. Counselling sessions and cyber safety measures, at such a vulnerable time, were catered exclusively for the benefit of all our students and parents. It was also a time to build our own families, to do the things that we most enjoy, and indulge in our hobbies like cooking, painting, reading books, watching inspirational movies, sharing family stories with the young ones and relaxing from the routine. We had been caught in the marathon for too long. Now is the time the creation is asking us to consciously slow down, enter into the depth of our being and encounter the Divine present there, walk that spiritual path, remembering and recognizing one’s Creator, God. This was the perfect time to connect with God and heal the earth, change the course of evolution, breathe new air into our lungs and unleash in us the deepest love and care that our tender hearts did not know was possible, thus to heal ourselves and heal the world.
This pandemic has taught us many unique lessons. The need to build resilience into our education system is felt and expressed stronger than ever before. Working in a normal school atmosphere, all of us look forward, expecting students to adapt to the new normal with their masks on, sanitizers in hands all the time, maintaining physical distance, sanitation and hygiene etc. all this will be taxing and an awkward situation for students and teachers alike. It is our continued endeavour to make the school environment conducive for students on their return after the long digital learning that isolated them from the actual presence of their friends and teachers. This again is a daunting task for students, teachers, parents and the Management. It prepares us to embrace the transition and rise up to the demands of the time through training and other available resources.
Life is a process of growing in the midst of challenges and opportunities. If we make a habit of asking, “What for” in each lesson instead of “Why”, our minds will open up to endless opportunities. So, we hold the flame of Nano Nagle against the wind of Covid-19 with firm trust in the blessings from God Almighty who will take us forward. Tough times do not last, but tough people do. Kudos to PCS family, (Management, staff, students and parents) for embracing the new normal with resilience and much-needed grace. We still need to focus on our emotional wellbeing and mental health by being positive, build up our immunity and fight this virus all together as a nation determined to overcome the shadows and the nights of Corona. Victory is ours, as we know “this too shall pass”.
As we bid goodbye to 2020, I believe that brighter times lie ahead of us. There is so much we can do, as long as we do it together. The pandemic is not over yet. The vaccine may be rolled out soon. We wait patiently for the right time to get back to school physically. Till then we will engage ourselves in online classes. With hope and confidence in the better times of 2021 we keep journeying together, keeping our focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.
Submitted by: Sr Jyoti Thomas, pbvm