--School of WILL:
Winners, Innovators, Leaders, Learners
UA Staff with Yab Dasho Ugyen Dorji & Yum Thuji Zam
--Hon'ble Minister's Visit:
Teachers of UA with Hon'ble Education Minister
--School of Innovators:
Ugyen Academy's Family
--Mensuration Hygiene Day:
School observing Mensuration Hygiene Day
Dear Parents, (Teachers, and Students),
COVID -19 has put us all in limbo and our children’s education is suffering. The entire world is holding out for a cure and we continue to struggle to solve the complex equation of reopening schools. Up until now, we waited for schools to reopen, and now with the risk of community spread looming large, we really remain unsure.
Apparently, many teachers and students are struggling with online classes and at the same time, we do understand that some parents are going through tough economic times. Added with the burden of having to again take care of children and monitor their online classes makes it nightmarish. Again for that matter, the cognitive-developmental risks are more significant for students from such disadvantaged backgrounds. We are also aware that some students might be working to augment the family income and hence, will be removed from eLearning - mainly Google classes. We have learnt that there’s no reasonable way to replicate a school day in our homes – a school is a school after all.
Amid this enormous upheaval, we must relentlessly provide our full support to fight against COVID-19 and at the same time see that education continues in every possible way. At UA teachers have been trying their best to live up to our EiE Pledge, “My Students, My Responsibility - MSMY” (Versions 1 to 8) ever since the EiE curriculum was rolled out. We are clear that all of us are rolling into an entirely new education system and we have no choice but to stand on the new platform to deliver our lessons and conduct the assessments in our own way to complete the teaching cycle. The School Administration Team (SAT) and Heads of Departments (HoDs) meet at least twice weekly to plan and share important issues. Please find below some relevant issues resolved in our meeting on 12th June 2020:
Term 1 Examinations: Like the monthly test we conducted in early May, the SAT/HoDs decided to conduct the Term I Examinations (Half Yearly/Mid-Term). The assessments will to a large extent help schools to look into educational disparities and problems in the wake of the pandemic. While we recognize that it may not be possible for some students to take the Term 1 Examinations, it remains equally important for a school to conduct some sort of assessment to measure the outcome of delivery of the EiE curriculum. The assessment modality for each subject will rest with the respective subject teacher – Re: Letter to Teachers attached.
Further, the assessments are going to help the teachers to course correct (remediation) online if schools continue to remain closed and also have strategic academic plans ready for implementation if school reopens. Please help us to help your child. We do understand that there will be students who no matter what will be difficult but as far as possible, we request every parent/guardian to ensure that their child takes the Term I Examinations. For us teachers, the willingness to take the exam is more important than the marks and there is nothing more important than integrity.
Fees: At the moment the school is not able to ascertain the exact fees for the 2020 academic session. It must be fair for both the parents and the proprietor. Hence, it has to be differently done and the reasonable truncated amount will only be clear when the MoE provides clarity on the plan for the 2020 academic session. Nevertheless, the school is thinking of:
School Fees: Like all other private schools in the country UA will also be offering concessions on fees based on other costs not incurred, such as electricity costs, office costs, and many co-curricular and extra-curricular activities not conducted.
Boarding Fees: Discounts on boarding fees will again be made for costs not incurred, which includes mainly food, water, fuel, electricity, etc... Of course, we need to understand that the salaries for the boarding/mess staff are being paid regularly like for the teachers.
Blended Learning Approach: Even before the pandemic COVID-19, we had realized the greater importance of establishing a good infrastructure for online education. UA had already instituted a separate department called Distance Learning Solutions (DLS-Unit). In 2018 and 2019, we laid emphasis on SMART classes where children were allowed to use their electronic gadgets/school e-resources for eLearning. The school had already invested in four IT labs (three for the higher secondary and one for lower division) and two SMART Classrooms. We had stressed to our teachers the need to adapt to evolving technology-centered teaching. Even for the delivery of EiE curriculum, by and large, our teachers used a wide variety of VLEs besides Google Classrooms.
We remain convinced that teachers will have to be even more IT savvy and continue to harness the benefits of VLEs even if school reopens; we are planning for a customized version of blended learning - the combination of face-to-face and online learning. Consequently, we will be allowing students to come with their electronic gadgets to school. Having said so, our challenge will be to e-discipline all our students – a real big challenge. Nonetheless, we are prepared to come up with an added feature in our values education classes – Values education for the 21st Century Technology-Based Education. Additionally, we have already requested our proprietor to up-grade our existing ICT facilities and also invest in the capacity building of teachers for effective blended learning.
On 3rd June 2020, our Proprietor along with School Administration Team (SAT) spent the day studying how our existing facilities can be remodeled to suit the post COVID educational needs. For example, making of cubicles in the existing dormitories to provide privacy for individual study and space for maintaining health protocols; each dormitory housing 24 students currently will accommodate 12 to 16 students - just 2 or 3 in each cubicle. There should be provision for the internet, self-service launderette, drying rooms, recreational areas, etc. in the dormitories.
At this juncture, we feel it is of considerable importance for parents to share your valuable insights on the above issues or any other matters pertaining to your child’s education in UA. Please note that I will be mindful not to share any sensitive issues. My email id: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, I thank each one of you for your support and understanding as we, as a country and community, responded to the unexpected invasion of COVID-19 in early March. At the same time, we remain forever indebted for the amount of love, care, and concern from our beloved His Majesty, the relentless efforts of our government; the ever-rising fountain of prayers from our “Zhung Dratshang” – we are safe because we are given good care.
2nd June 2020: Social Forestry Day to commemorate the Coronation of our beloved King HM Jigme Singye Wangchuck who is the first ‘Champion of the Earth’ award in 2005 instituted by UNEP.
4th June 2020: Birthday of our Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, the patron of environment preservation in Bhutan.
5th June 2020: World Environment Day (WED) is one of the biggest events celebrated in the world every year; it is supposed to be the "People's Day" to do something to take care of the earth and the environment. We are not doing but polluting. Thanks to the CORONA pandemic lockdown, the earth got time to heal a bit, the sky is clearer, and the air cleaner.
I am happy that Lord Buddha joined us this year on WED to teach us mindfulness - to be mindful of our actions on the world. CORONA would have never come if we did not harm other living creatures.
I feel we should observe a CORONA-TION week each year - a CORONA pandemic lockdown on earth each year. For 2020 we did our part during the CORONA-TION WEEK, AN ENVIRONMENT WEEK Happy CORONA-TION Weekend.
We are writing to appraise each and every one of our plans to begin the phased re-opening of Ugyen Academy (UA). The government has asked us to plan a reopening of the school from Wednesday, 1st July 2020 for classes X and XII only. We accept that it is our sacred responsibility to plan a phased reopening based on our judgments of what is safest for all of us. Hence, this letter has three important attachments:
Phase wise Reporting Notice: Provided to ensure that each and every student is thoroughly screened
An important extract from UA’s Preparedness and Response Plan (PRP – 4th Edition, 20th June 2020) for school reopening on 1st July 2020:
It spells out the expectations and guidelines/protocols to be followed when school reopens
PRP Structure System (Human Resources –Command/Communication)
For easy contact and to identify the concerned individual's responsibility/duty for effective implementation of UA’s Preparedness and Response Plan (PRP) for Outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
As evident from above, considering the safety of our students and UA staff members, we have put great thrust to Health and Medical Unit; it has been strengthened with the best possible health team headed by a consultant doctor, two seasoned nurses and trained support staff to provide 24X7 health services in the campus. Even each class has a female and a male Class Health Captain who are automatic members of the School Health and Medical Unit.
While we have done everything under the sun to ensure safety, it is important to share a bit on our academic plan. Today, despite extraordinary advances in the development of countermeasures, the ease of world travel and increased global interdependence have added layers of complexity to containing these infectious diseases that affect not only the health but the economic stability of societies. The Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has to some degree been catastrophic for the world including Bhutan- it has been rolling out public fear, economic loss, and adversely impacting schools. Therefore, as envisaged in our objective, UA’s Preparedness and Response Plan for Outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is designed to some degree for adapting to reclosing and reopening schools as needed due to resurgence of community transmission.
Accordingly, we are adopting a Blended Learning Approach - combination of face-to-face and online learning. Our DLS Unit has also been strengthened and ICT facilities up-graded for effective blended learning. The school will have intranet facilities to continue online classes as well; online assignments and assessments will continue to exist on the school campus. Consequently, we will be allowing students to come with their electronic gadgets to school but they will have to surrender their SIM to the Planning and Operation Unit/Class Teacher/Matrons/Wardens. Each student will have to sign the ICT pledge. Having said so, our challenge will be to e-discipline all our students – a real big challenge. Nonetheless, as shared in the past, we are prepared to come up with an added feature in our values education classes – Values education for the 21st Century Technology-Based Education. Anyway, we have no choice but to have a go for the better. We are sure parents will support the move.
Thank you for your ongoing support and hope to see you all in good health soon.
Our monthly tests for the month of March and April 2020 are beginning from today (Saturday, April 25, 2020). Like the monthly tests conducted during regular academic sessions, the online tests will cover only those topics covered under the EiE curriculum or UA’s Distance Learning Solutions (DLSs). Accordingly, the assessment criteria have been innovated to suit the e-learning and teaching (EiE) environment.
We are attaching the Time Table and the Assessment Criteria so that all are aware of the kind of assessment(s) we are trying to come up with, after coming to grips with the online delivery (DLS) of the EiE curriculum. Kindly go through the time table and the assessment criteria and provide us your valuable feedback. We must admit that it is not perfect; it is rather a temporary solution to ensure that we partner with the parents, meaningfully engage our students and jointly make an assessment.
At the same time, we are all aware that we are all facing a host of challenges when it comes to teaching or assessing remotely; the digital divide - grappling with unfamiliar technologies, those who lack adult supervision, or those who are facing domestic problems, resource problems — the list goes on. Therefore, it will be our sacred responsibility to help such students, if not now, even later when the school re-opens.
Meanwhile, driven by a pandemic to the front lines of an unprecedented rush to distance-learning, we don’t have a choice but to be inundated in our own respective groups in Google classrooms, messenger, telegram, We-chat, emails, texts, BBS Lessons, and calls – a desperate attempt to keep education going. We are all stressed and to some degree panic-stricken but we must work together to get through this crisis.
We remain very certain that with the amount of love, care and concern from our beloved His Majesty, the heroic efforts of our government; the ever-rising fountain of prayers from our “Zhung Dratshang” (Central Monastic Body – CMB) and the collaboration of Bhutanese people, the pandemic will end soon and life will spring back to normalcy. It will.