Response to Covid-19 during the school year 2020-2021 (as in April 2021)
In Georgia, schools are open as the testing of teachers in schools continues on regular basis to ensure maximum safety for personnel and students. From March 15th, 2021, students have the opportunity to also engage in various informal activities.
In order to prevent the further spread of the infection, owing to the initiative of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, security controls at schools have been tightened even more. Every effort is made to ensure that both students and administrators are fully protected.
Those schools, where the virus is detected, will be closed and immediately disinfected. Compared to last week of March 2021, the rate of infection has slightly increased, although internal transmission of the virus inside schools has still not been recorded.
In particular, between April 5 to April 10, as a result of extensive monitoring and mandatory testing, the virus was detected at 0.2% amongst teachers and school administrators and 0.04% among the students, across the country. At the request of the parents, and due to the confirmation of the virus, there are 43 schools and 174 separate classes across the country that switched to full distance learning.
Furthermore, there has been an increase in the number of teachers who have completely switched to remote learning, due to their age and risk of contracting the virus. At this stage, 98 teachers across the country teach remotely. Local restrictions will apply to schools in case the virus is detected. In the event of a virus detection, schools will act in accordance with a protocol established by the Ministry of Health.
Response to Covid-19 during the school year 2020-2021
The Georgian Ministry of Education has announced that Georgian schools will resume face to face teaching on September 15th, 2020. At the same time, schools will have to adhere to some mandatory regulations:
In classrooms, pupils will have to maintain a distance of 1 meter. No more than 29 students will be allowed in a classroom at once.
In the school building, all but students are required to wear face masks. Upon entering the school, everyone will have to cross disinfection barriers, thermal screening and hand sanitization. The school must have a reserve of masks. After each period, the bathrooms will be disinfected.
There should be an isolated room for temporary accommodation for students with a runny nose or fever. Equipment must be constantly disinfected.
In classrooms, teachers have the right to dispense their face masks, but at breaks, wearing them is mandatory.
The Ministry of Education allows schools to plan the educational process themselves, depending on the number of students and the area of the schools.
When planning the educational process, schools have the right to:
> Define the duration of the lessons, but not shorter than 30 minutes.
> Det the start time for classes.
> Schools have the right to switch to a hybrid model – teaching in a regular mode and remotely.
> The school may declare Saturday a school day if necessary.
> When switching to a mixed model, distance learning is allowed for grades 5-6 one day per week, for grades 7-11 – a maximum of two days, for grade 12 – a maximum of three days.
> The blended learning model should be agreed upon with the Ministry of Education and the educational resource centre.
Response to Covid-19 during the school year 2019-2020
Measures taken by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia with the support of the government during the lockdown were as follows:
Teleskola (TVSchool) Project, broadcasting TV lessons, launched on 30 March. These lessons encompassed all the mandatory subjects between grades I-XII. The project allowed all students, regardless of whether they have access to the Internet, find interesting and cognitive lessons across all subjects.
Students and teachers were offered free access to approved electronic versions of school textbooks by the Publishing houses: online textbooks.
The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia created Microsoft Office 365 user profiles for about 600,000 students of Georgian public schools, 55,000 teachers and school faculty members through the Education Information Management System (EMIS).
A portal was created that allows students and their parents to access student’s data without the direct involvement of the school administration and teachers.
A virtual classroom was set up on the Microsoft TEAMS platform, intended for all subjects.
Virtual counseling centers have been organized across all regions of Georgia, allowing volunteer experts from the “New School Model” to help teachers cope with the technological aspects of distance learning.
Data was collected to provide teachers and students with access to the Internet and digital technologies. According to statistics, Microsoft TEAMS has 138,698 users; As of March 23, Office 365 had 143,140 active users; Email and Data Online Storage (OneDrive) has about 14,000 active users. In addition, support groups for the “New School Model” actively worked on school reform, an important component, dictating the introduction of distance learning and the sharing of experiences with other schools and teachers.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia developed special recommendations that guide parents to ensure the child’s active involvement in distance learning procedures. Also, teachers, through constant communication with parents, provided information about the progress of the distance learning process, so that students are able to perform all the necessary activities in a timely and adequate manner.
The Teleskola project, one of the modes of distance learning, fully supported the education of students with special educational needs, as all lessons are accompanied by a gesture translator. It was also planned to record short video clips for students with special educational needs who have difficulty with academic and cognitive skills. Video tutorials include recommendations for developing fine motor skills, perception, attention, memory, and thinking. These video clips intended for parents to support the development of students with disabilities through the use of family resources.
To address the new challenges, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia and the Center for Psychosocial Services of the LEPL Resource Officers offered parents a list of simple recommendations to help them cope with the ongoing situation
Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia together with the National Center for Assessment and Examinations, decided to extend the deadline for registration for the Unified National and Graduate exams, and Student Grant Competition to April 30, by 18:00.
SOME HELPFUL TOOLS:
Feedc platform is completely free of charge, and works perfectly on any smartphone, and does not require high-speed broadband connection. The platform enables sharing of documents, upload/download features and the ability to conduct group lessons. It is extremely user friendly for students, teachers and parents alike. Additionally, users can register on the platform with a mobile phone number.
All teachers and students can now use artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots in test-mode in the distance learning process. The chatbot helps the school community to implement and get used to the remote learning practices.