Schools closed over a month prior to yearly summer vacations as the Government reported a 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. And students including public and private institutions in Mumbai are taking lessons online through apps or video sessions to create up for the loss. Hearteningly, public schools have geared to reach students online like private schools have been in Mumbai. And teachers have to play a significant part to play in that.

The expectation behind the WhatsApp group was to share the experience with students. Pooja Sankhe, Sahu’s teacher, said: “It’s only now that I have started sharing homework and activities that will keep students engaged during this difficult time.” Sankhe has won a National Award in 2017 and a state award a year afterward for presenting Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa in classrooms for learning. That made a huge difference in progress participation and started in other schools as well.

Students in BMC schools mostly come from low-income families but applications like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Google Drive have made it simple to share information through low-cost smartphones. Also, the education department has its own app. Schools run by Mumbai’s civic authority have been using innovation to confer education for more than five to six years.

Mahesh Palkar, education officer for BMC schools said “All our teachers are constantly trained in using platforms like Zoom, Telegram, Twitter, etc.,” He added, “Although the schools are shut and exams for certain classes have been cancelled, teachers continue to engage with students through WhatsApp and Telegram.” Madhukar Bhosale, a BMC teacher who specializes in education data analysis said, “Teachers send homework, practice questions, drawings, and other assignments via WhatsApp. Students are also trained in using Diksha app (that aids learning).”

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A few private schools have too switched to every day online classes since they had smart infrastructures like high-tech classrooms and online entries with profiles and logins for students and teachers. The Dhirubhai Ambani International School as well went online. “The school converted all classroom material to make it suitable for online teaching and trained its teachers over the last few days,” the school said in a statement. “All the training and preparatory work was done online with teachers participating in their own homes.”

Conducting full-day online classes may not be a reasonable choice for metropolitan or government-run schools and the regular session may begin when they re-open in June, provided the coronavirus flare-up is contained.