COVID-19 has changed everything. It has also brought in a lot of anxieties, worries and uncertainties. As we enter week 4 of the lock down, every business is worried about safeguarding their future revenue. And schools are no exception. But there are questions that need to be answered first.
“Should School Be Resuming in May?’”
Even if the lock down is not extended, should school resume in May?
As a parent, my answer is a big No. I want lock down to end but the safety of my child is key. I strongly believe we should not hurriedly re- open.
“Should Schools kick off the term with elearning?”
A number of schools are planning to kick off with e-Learning at the end of this month with plans to hopefully resume physical class end of May or June. While this is an awesome idea, there are challenges here – constant power supply, availability of a functional device and good connectivity. Which means that not all children will currently be able to access e-learning equally.
And for the lucky ones that can, there are other challenges – attention span and engagement of child. Without a physical class, ensuring children are learning and paying attention is a challenge. So, when implementing a system like this , it is important to ask yourself “are we ready for this?
However, one of the major challenges of e-learning for younger children in nursery, primary and junior secondary, is the level of parent involvement required and how new this is for both parents, teachers and especially the child.
As a parent running my own business, I suspect that even if lock down is not extended, we would continue to work remotely in May as an organisation. This means that if school is to resume and parents are to pay school fees, they would expect that they would not be required to take up too much responsibility for learning so they can focus on work.
However, while this might be the ideal, the reality is that this is new, there will be some initial learning curve for all parties involved. And because e-learning while children are at home means that parents need to take up more responsibility compared to when they are dropped off at school.
So, they are asking questions ‘why should I pay fees and what exactly am I paying for?” This is a valid question especially because their income is being threatened at this uncertain time and this is all new to them.
Should Parents Pay School Fees?
Parents should pay for value – the value needs to be clearly defined to the parent before school fees discussion are raised. And remember value is defined by the user.
What is the value for the parent? Do parent have the basic requirement to support remote learning? Is remote learning what they need currently? What do the parents of your school need at this time? And if remote learning is the answer? Has the process from end to end been clearly defined? Have stakeholder sessions with the parents been done? Do schools clearly understand the situation, anxieties, pressure and challenges parent are undergoing? Have pilots of the “remote learning” been done? Should parents pay for the “pilot process” because for most schools that have never done remote learning, there is a need to pilot first. Have feedback from the children also been gotten and incorporated into the final process?
In the end, I believe schools should refine the process to meet the current needs as redefined by COVID-19 and the lock down. Providing a solution in the changing and trying time is the value schools can provide.
And if value is being provided then its okay to ask for value (school fees) in return.