Bahrain School builds successfully on history of online learning

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Manama, Dec. 26 (BNA): For Bahrain School, the experience accumulated from years of online schooling has made a huge difference, keeping the chances of learning, progressing through the grades and graduating meritoriously intact.

Around a decade ago the school, run by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), joined the DoDEA Virtual School (DVHS) as part of its learning plan and to enable students to retake and/or continue coursework and remain on track for graduation.

The DoDEA Virtual High School (DVHS) serves DoDEA-eligible students, whether they are enrolled full-time at DVHS or are supplementing their other DoDEA coursework.

Therefore, when COVID-19 sparked changes to everything related to schools across the world, Bahrain School built on the experience gained from the DVHS years and on the shared commitment to ensure that classes are in session through full-time in-person or full-time virtual learning for grades K–12 students.

Thus, even in the most formidable of challenges, the dream of studying without interruption and graduating remains absolutely possible for students.

In February, the school, one of the oldest private learning institutions on the island as it was founded in 1967, needed only three days to have its digital platforms ready for online courses.

“While we understand the motives behind the decision by the Bahraini government to shut schools, we are also committed to making sure our students could use their time at home to continue their schooling,” Middle High School Principal Shana Seawright said.

Reopening the school, offering classes in a more formal way and keeping the students engaged in active learning were also an easy transition thanks to the ingenuity, the capacity and the technology Bahrain School possesses and to the host of measures it has taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the students and staff.

The special care and attention start ahead of reaching the building sprawling on a vast area in Juffair in the southern suburbs of the capital Manama.

“As our students load the bus, they have to put on a mask and they wear the mask throughout the duration of their trip. They wear the mask when they get off the bus,” Seawright said.

On the bus, students are also socially distanced, but if they are family members, they get to sit together, principal Penelope Miller-Smith said.

“There are two full rows before another student. Children without siblings sit alone,” she added.

Once they reach the building, the students sanitize their hands. Those who come early can use the gym as a holding area, but they must remain socially distant.

The principal said the school recommends handwashing throughout the day, but if students cannot, they must use the sanitizers placed everywhere in the building.

The hallway has designated seats and all classrooms have been laid out so that students can remain socially distant. Two is the maximum number of students in a class group, and they must be six feet apart from one another. At the end of class, students sanitize their desks and areas.

When going into the cafeteria, students must snake their way by standing only on blue marks to ensure full social distance during relaxed times as well.

“Students must keep their masks on in the cafeteria until they are seated. The only time students are allowed to get up is when they throw their trash away. If they need anything, the cafeteria staff brings it to them,” Penelope said in an introductory video shared with students, parents, teachers and staff.

The school has a comprehensive nurse team and a special care room where nurses provide specific support to students who may be exhibiting COVID-like symptoms, she added.