A New School Year Full of Obstacles
A new school year is upon us and to say it will be full of interesting challenges would be an understatement. The Covid-19 virus has made it necessary to adapt to a new reality in every aspect of our lives, including the educational arena.
Here in Mexico, because of the increasing cases of infections and deaths, the Education Department has suspended physical attendance at schools until further notice. The school year will begin on August 24, 2020, but will be conducted exclusively online. This creates a big problem and burden for most of our students because, like most low-income students in Mexico, they don’t have access to the internet or to computers. Mexican TV stations have vowed to help these students by televising their classes on local channels. However, from what we saw in the last few months of the last school cycle, students are struggling mightily to adapt and learn under the new system. We expect the same problems in this new school year.
One specific incident taught us teachers a valuable lesson on the types of problems students will confront with the “online” system. Last week all the primary school teachers next door, their director, and all of our teachers, participated in an online training program offered to us by a specialist at Universidad de Guadalajara to help us better understand the tools at our disposal to be able to stay in touch and effectively teach our students.
“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.”
The online training was a disaster. Some teachers were having problems logging in, others kept having problems with their internet connection, some were struggling to understand the subject matter, etc. It was a very frustrating training session. At the end of the session we all laughed and pointed out to each other that this is how frustrating it must be for all students doing work online – worse for those who don’t have even the most basic of tools (internet or computers). We all understand that teachers need to be physically present to better serve their students. The danger of this pandemic has not allowed it to happen and we must adapt.
We recently had a meeting with community members to discuss the ways in which our project can help our students find their way through the “new normal.” Our plan was to have our school open to give access to internet and computers for those who desperately need them. Our teachers would be here to help students with their homework or with anything they do not understand. All this was to be done following the required safety protocols and with a limited number of students (to ensure proper social distancing).
After a very intense debate and discussion with the Committee, we decided that opening the school at this juncture was very dangerous due to the rise of Covid infections in Puerto Vallarta, specifically in Colonia Volcanes. Instead, the Committee voted to have a two-week waiting period where we are helping a very limited number of students while we investigate how many students do not have internet access and computers and think of ways to help these students without putting everyone’s life at risk. We are sure every teacher and parent around the world is going through this dilemma – wanting to ensure kids continue their education while protecting their health during a pandemic.
We know there is a big need for a project like ours at this very difficult moment and we are working with the community to create a safe environment in which we can fill the void in a responsible way.
We will keep everyone posted as things develop. Thank you for supporting our project.