Coronavirus, Congestion, Commuting and other Considerations

Like many educators, I have been wrestling with what format teaching should take in the upcoming academic term. Like most countries in the world, schools in Nigeria have been shut since March 2020, and we have only begun to see an easing of restrictions in the last couple of weeks to allow school leavers to sit their crucial end of phase exams.

Up until the lockdown, we delivered over 90% of our lessons in person, mostly in client’s homes or schools. When lock-down happened, we were forced to transition quickly to virtual teaching and have been doing so ever since. Now that schools are set to open in the next few weeks, my team and I find ourselves asking the question, what is the right response for us?

My first thought is that the coronavirus is still very much with us, and even countries like New Zealand who declared an early victory over the pandemic, are currently experiencing a second wave of new infections and are in the throes of a new lockdown.

While it appears that Nigeria (mercifully) has had a relatively easier time compared with other countries such as South Africa, cases are nevertheless still rising. As of yesterday, the 23rd of August 2020, there were over 52,000 confirmed cases. Of these, 2% are linked to foreign travel, 24% are contacts of known cases, while 74% were infected through “unknown exposure” (source: COVID-19 SITUATION REPORT 177, Sunday, 23rd August 2020, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control). I don’t know about you but the high percentage of untraceable infections is of concern to me.

According to this guidance released by the Federal Ministry of Education, schools and learning facilities need to undertake risk assessments to determine how safe it is to reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year. As we are not a traditional school, not all the considerations are applicable to us, but we were able to draw up our own risk assessment based on the Government’s guidelines which we feel is relevant to our unique situation.

KMC COVID RISK ASSESSMENT

  1. Is there a high rate of community transmission in the area in which the lesson is due to take place?
  2. Is there a high rate of community transmission in the area in which the Music Coach resides?
  3. Will the Music Coach able to maintain a physical distance of 2 meters between themselves and other commuters enroute to the client’s home and back again?
  4. Does the Music Coach, the Learner or anyone they are in regular contact with have a pre-existing condition that puts them at higher risk of contracting the virus?
  5. Will the Music Coach able to measure the body temperature of themselves, the Learner and any other persons present at the lesson location with an infrared digital thermometer before entering the premises?
  6. Will the Music Coach be able to wash or sanitise his or her hands conveniently before, during and after the lesson as the need arises?
  7. Will the Music Coach be able to maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from the Learner and anyone else present throughout the lesson?
  8. Are both the Music Coach and Learner able to wear face masks for the entire duration of the lesson without negatively impacting teaching and learning? (may not be feasible for voice, brass or woodwind lessons for instance).
  9. Does the location of the lesson have adequate cross ventilation that does not require the use of a fan or airconditioner as these could potentially circulate the virus in a confined space?
  10. Can the lesson take place without the Music Coach needing to share equipment with the pupil, such as pens, pencils, notebooks, music books and musical instruments?
  11. Where sharing of equipment and resources is unavoidable, can these be adequately sanitised before and after the lesson is due to happen so as not to impact on teaching and learning time?
  12. Is everyone present aware of proper hygiene protocols regarding sneezing and coughing in order to minimise the possible spread of water droplets?
  13. Will the Music Coach and Learner have access to safe and sanitary rest rooms with running water if required?
  14. Are there adequate contact tracing protocols in place at the lesson venue should it become necessary to reach people who may have come into contact with an infected person?

In addition to the health considerations above, we feel that the following logistical concerns are equally important:

  1. Does the increased congestion presently being experienced in Lagos on account of ongoing repairs to the Third Mainland Bridge and the Okada ban allow allow the Music Coach to fulfil their obligations to other clients?
  2. Does the timing of the lesson allow enough time for the Music Coach to return home before the start of any curfews imposed by the State or Federal Government?

With so many factors to consider, my team and I have decided that our default teaching format for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year will be virtual with the possibility of in-person lessons once a month for those clients who want it, provided the risks outlined above can be mitigated.

To make our virtual lessons as effective and impactful as possible, we will adopt both syncrhonous (live) and asyncrhonous tuition methods. This format was used to great effect in delivering our eight week virtual summer camp for which we had fantastic feedback from both parents and children alike.

With regards to when we are likely to return to all in-person lessons, it is not possible to give a specific time frame as there are just too many variables at play. All we can do is to continue to keep the situation under review, with the aim of switching to in-person lessons when the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks.

I have a sneaky suspicion however, that virtual instruction will remain an important part of learning in the future and that blended teaching methods are here to stay.

Till next time,

Mrs O

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