Coronavirus might prompt a reform Slovakia's schools have needed for a long time

Remote teaching is not just fancy conference calls. Teachers have to show their resourcefulness.

Peter Pallo while teaching his pupils.Peter Pallo while teaching his pupils. (Source: Youtube/Peter Pallo)

“Mr teacher!” a child’s voice comes from the computer speakers, quickly joined by more.

“Hello, hello, children,” replies teacher Peter Pallo as he enters his virtual classroom. Sitting in front of his computer screen, he takes in the faces of his second-graders divided into four windows. Some of them are smiling into their webcam, some are only using the mic.

Pallo is a teacher at the Rudolf Dilong Elementary School in Trstená, a town on the borders with Poland, in the region of Orava. When his pupils are gathered for another online school day, he takes his accordion and kicks it off with a song familiar to the children. There's a commotion on his screen - the kids are standing up and as they sing along, they start the dance choreography they have learned at school.

After the short exercise, Pallo's pupils sit back in front of their computers to follow a math task the teacher has launched on his computer. The pupils switch to screen sharing so the teacher can see in real time how they are doing with the assignment.

This is a way of keeping up with the curriculum after schools were closed around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are even busier than usual,” Pallo said when asked how the crisis has affected his work.

In Slovakia, the nationwide lockdown of schools has applied since March 16. Many closed days before the state ordered them to do so. In the Bratislava Region, all schools have been closed since March 9. As of the end of March, it is not clear when schools will open again. New Education Minister Branislav Grohling admitted after he took over on March 22 that the schools might remain closed until September, although the government promises to do their best to have the kids back this school year, which officially ends at the end of June.

The closure of schools is no holiday for teachers - or parents of school kids. Teachers, who are receiving their full salaries, are expected to carry out some kind of remote teaching, each using the devices they have available. More often than not, that does not mean fancy online conference calls.

How to keep children busy during quarantine

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