As the government announced that the closure of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools due to the outbreak has been extended until March 16, some schools realized that mailing paperwork to students was no longer the solution.
“Getting an extra month off school has its downsides,” Jo Bunker, a mother of two, wrote on Facebook, in a post with pictures of her kids making sad faces next to a pile of hard-copy homework sent from their school.
Ten days before that, she posted pictures of her children celebrating their extra holiday with much rejoicing, captioned: “They cannot believe their luck.”
Although e-learning is now an emerging trend that allows students to maintain their original school schedules from home, not all students are fortunate enough to have access to the technology needed and not all schools are capable of supporting comprehensive online teaching.
In view of this, the school Bunkers’ kids study at, the Church of Christ in China Tai O Primary School, introduced a new teaching arrangement.
The school opted for a hybrid curriculum that includes a combination of hard-copy work, online materials and video tutorials, striking a balance between comprehensive online teaching and sending students a pile of paperwork.
Bunker is optimistic about the change.
Under the new schedule, children can now do their homework at any time and turn it in on a daily and weekly basis depending on the subject – a flexibility students often prefer.
Back in their normal schedules, the children would have had a two-hour homework class at 3.30pm after each school day, during which they would complete and hand in all their assignments, with teachers assisting by their side.
Over the school suspension period, parents and students can contact teachers through e-mail, phone calls and text messages.
“The communication is great, teachers respond very quickly. I know that in some other schools, teachers are difficult to keep in touch with during this period,” Bunker said.
She enjoys spending more time with her children, as in addition to her usual English-language and financial lessons, she now also helps her children with their homework.
Fascinated by her children’s work and understanding the school and curriculum on a deeper level, the connection between the school and family is getting closer and cooperation between the two is becoming better, Bunker pointed out.
For younger children who have a shorter attention span and find it harder to focus, this hybrid approach seems to work better than comprehensive online learning due to the flexibility it gives.
But the suspension still brings many problems for parents who work every day or students moving into their next educational stage.
On Thursday, the education bureau also announced the cancellation of exams for primary six students’ secondary school allocations.
The allocation will instead be based on their two earlier results, meaning the primary six students will lose their chance to get into a better school by doing well in the final test of the three-part exam.
Bunker, a journalist and founder of Facebook group Newsworthy HK, feels lucky, as her work can be done from home and her kids, who are in primary four and five, don’t have any “serious exams” or the need to worry about entering secondary school yet.
“They are absolutely okay with going back to school because they miss their friends at school,” she said. “But for me, I think this is a good experience for them to remember and enjoy the time working at home.”
(This article was published at The Standard on February 18, 2020: Education: No online class? Not an issue for this parent )