No mask… No class.
Just as our students in Canada were heading back to school, so were the students at Kuwala Christian Girls School. The girls were excited to get back to learning and community at Kuwala. To start the school off, each student received a letter of encouragement from Canada. The students at Kuwala started with masks in hand on September 7, allowing additional time to review and settle in before regular schools officially open on October 12.
There was a lot of preparation to welcome the girls back, and parents were encouraged to send them to school with their masks. Education on the coronavirus is on-going. There has been a particular time designated for on-going discussion for the next while. Girls completed a questionnaire as part of their schoolwork about their thoughts and feelings regarding the pandemic, wearing a mask, and catching up on their learning. The teachers have spent time reviewing and providing support, both psychologically and academically.
At the end of the first week back to school, the majority of the students are now living on campus with the balance of the girls arriving shortly thereafter.
Things look a little different at Kuwala. The teachers have full PPE equipment, and the girls must wear masks. The back to school motto has been – No mask, No class. For the first month, the campus will monitor the fourteen-day protocol of taking the girls’ temperatures before the school day begins. The school Nurse arrived back mid-September and will provide additional support to the students, teachers and staff.
The day starts with an earlier wakeup call. The girls are required to assist with additional general cleaning. With students moving through activities in smaller groups, things take that much longer. There are hand washing buckets of water, chlorine and soap, at every entry with lots of posters explaining the procedures required while living with the Covid-19 pandemic. Doors and handles are wiped frequently, social distancing is monitored, and the classrooms’ desks are spaced apart as the government health agency has requested.
Breakfast now runs for an hour with 15 students per 15-minute shift, with four students per table instead of the usual eight. The corridors are marked in one direction. The class periods are now 35 minutes long, with no double periods to allow more time for lunch and movement between classes. The school day ends at 4:15 pm.
The teachers have shifted schedules and itineraries as their workload has increased. They need to focus on individual student work and study time to administer group work. Teaching with full PPE equipment, including a facemask and face shield, is challenging. Many of the students may find it difficult to hear the teacher. Seeing someone talk with his or her mouth moving and with creative facial expression, one can better understand what is being spoken. This new environment will come with unique challenges to overcome.
Exams are scheduled for the third week of September before a new Form begins in October. The exams will be written in the classroom and marked by the teachers. In the regular school system, 50% is a passing grade for students. At Kuwala, the passing grade is 60%. The girls are encouraged and motivated. It is taught and understood that they can achieve anything through hard work, determination and focus. They can achieve their goals if they put their mind to it.
In October, the scheduling of classes and time tables will shift to continue the social distancing and government protocols due to the pandemic. But what is so encouraging is the introduction of a 10 minute Bible reading and prayer time before class starts in the morning.
The Dining Hall, presently being built, is an impressive structure. It is remarkable as there are not many facilities around the area like this one. It is large enough to host a community event. There are so many possibilities with a facility like this one. The staff and students are excited to see it come together.
Education breaks the cycle of poverty and gives them a hand up to change themselves, their families, and their community. Continue to pray for Kuwala. Check out, share, like and follow our social media campaign on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn as we spread the story of great work being done.