Equipped with a digital platform for distance learning, Qatar Academy Doha (QAD) is well-prepared to hold online classes for its students amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the school’s director, Stephen Meek has said.
“Our faculty prepared very thoroughly in their Departments in advance of the school being closed so that they were ready for any eventuality for a move to online learning,” he told Gulf Times.
Meek said they use Google Classroom daily with normal classroom teaching and communication between students and faculty who are now familiar with such platform.
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education earlier announced that public schools are required to adopt a distance learning system while private schools in the country have been urged to apply a similar programme as a precautionary measure against Covid-19.
“Once we knew the school was closing, High School and Middle School principals spoke to all the students in their respective schools before the school closed to explain QAD’s expectations and exactly how we were going to continue to learn, while not sharing a physical classroom,” Meek said.
He said QAD followed the normal school schedule but with slightly shortened lesson periods for faculty and students to meet for the usual classes.
Students sign-in when they join a class and have to complete a particular question or task at the end of the class as an “exit ticket”, Meek added.
He noted that attendance rates have been good and the school immediately informs parents, either through email or phone call, if their children fail to join the class. “Parents have been very pleased that we are contacting them in this way.”
“Assignments are completed through Google Classroom and the faculty member marks them and returns them through the same platform. We have done a number of formative pieces of work and are now working towards summative assignments,” Meek said. “We are looking at ways to ensure that the integrity of the work is maintained.”
“Lead Teachers of each Grade in the Primary School and of each Department in the Senior School are members of each class in their Grade or Department, so that they can join any of these classes at any time, to support the learning which is taking place. Admin staff can also join classes,” he added.
QAD is also educating students on Covid-19 precautionary measures by conducting information sessions in class and assemblies to explain the importance of hygiene, hand washing, and social distancing, among others, Meek said.
While the school has hand sanitiser dispensers in every classroom, he said they also installed more at relevant areas and in the corridors.
Besides posters (both in Arabic and English), QAD also continued sending reminders to its community about the personal measures which people can do to avoid contagion.
“I have been impressed by the way the students took part in raising social awareness about the measures which we need to take to keep ourselves and our community safe. Many videos /images /messages/materials sent by students and posted on our official channels encourage the community to stay at home and to use hand sanitiser,” Meek said.
“It has also been good to see images of the students studying from home. As these images are taken by the parents, it is a reminder of the fact that parents are doing a wonderful job in supporting their children’s learning,” he added.