February 26, 2021 12:12:53 am
AWAY FROM their schools for nearly a year, a group of students from civic-run schools, who faced challenges accessing online education, have come together to prepare their classrooms to reopen in a pandemic-affected city.
From electronic devices with thermal sensors to record temperatures at entry to sensor-based water and sanitiser dispensers and switch boards functioning on voice commands, the units configured and installed by the group of 15, including some alumni of city schools, have been set up as a pilot in Kher Nagar Municipal Secondary School in Kherwadi, Bandra (East) with permission from the BMC.
The students are all part of a robotics programme run for the past three years by Salaam Bombay Foundation. With schools yet to reopen for offline classes, students were part of the training programme where a discussion was held on the risks of the spread of Covid-19 in schools. Children were asked to come up with the most common surfaces that could increase the risk. Suggestions included water taps in washrooms, for drinking water and switch boards in classrooms. As part of their ongoing programme, students were then taught how to make an automated water dispenser in washrooms as well as for drinking that would work on sensory motion to switch taps on and off.
“Many students also touch switches, so we configured the switch board in such a manner that it could turn the tube lights and fans on and off in the classroom with a voice command or a motion sensor,” says Rohit Sathe, 16-year-old student of Vikas High School in Vikhroli.
Other students said while they attended virtual classes, it could not replace the environment of learning in school where there were fewer distractions and more attention to studies and, hence, they were looking forward to schools reopening.
Supriya Thakur, a 15-year-old student of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar School in Worli, said she spent nearly six months of lockdown without a phone till one was arranged with the help of an NGO. “I had to spend the time studying on my own in a crucial year like Class X. The risk of the pandemic is still on, but there has to be some way of making schools safe for offline classes to begin in a limited manner. I wish my prelims can be conducted in school now or I will find it difficult to appear for my board exams,” said Thakur, the daughter of a taxi driver.
Gaurav Arora, vice-president of the skill development wing of Salaam Bombay Foundation, said while each of the units cost over Rs 15,000 to make, they were hopeful that funds and schemes for such programmes by the central and state governments as well as sponsors through corporates could help put such units across as many civic schools as possible.
“The idea was to influence children towards such careers as well as bring measures to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 in schools, where a large number of children assemble,” he said.
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