March to June 2020 recap
Following the extensive social distancing measures put in place in Greece, all in-person Spark activities were suspended, roughly from mid-March to mid-May. During this lockdown, as well as in the weeks following, we worked hard to re-engage the children, in an appropriate way. We also offered help to our partners in a number of ways, and that help is still available for the year 2020-21 (see Helping you prepare below).
Where or when in-person classes were not possible, we offered virtual activities. We did so for children in the SOS Villages centre in Kipseli, the Christodoulio Foster Home and the Public Library of Piraeus. We felt it was a priority during such a difficult time to give children a chance to socialize, even virtually, and to express themselves and stay active. We ran tailor-made, fun activities that are suitable for virtual classes. We also kept the number of children very small, so that our classes could remain interactive and engaging. We thank everyone for their help!
resuming in-person classes
When measures were eventually lifted, we were once again available to resume in-class activities, where our partner organizations deemed it appropriate, offering the option of extending classes to the end of June to make up for some of the lost time. We upheld social distancing measures - for example, by splitting classes in two, so as to limit the number of children in a room at any given time, we followed recommended hygiene practices and we respected any internal policies of each organization. And, of course, we kept a light, fun schedule for these few remaining classes - we knew that these are far from normal teaching conditions!
The coming year: Steps we are taking to prepare
Hopefully there will be no more lockdowns, partial or complete, for this coming year, but we are preparing just in case.
We are putting together appropriate curriculum for remote classes.
We are also working to understand what restrictions in working from home children would face in a lockdown, and we are setting up a protocol for getting children connected at home, and in some cases getting equipment to children who need it.
In addition, in the first few weeks we will practice using the online platforms, in class, so that everyone is set up and familiar with the software, and comfortable attending and participating in virtual activities.
Helping you prepare for the coming year
It is hard to foresee how the next year will go, or what preparations are appropriate. Same as last spring, there are a number of ways we could help:
Additional computers for online school classes:
You may use any Spark laptops we are keeping on the premises for other virtual classes, just let us know ahead of time. Please contact Anna Kamperou or the class teacher for any help with logins. Also, please make sure children wash their hands, and sanitize the laptops with a wet wipe after use. Also, if you need additional laptops, let us know and we may be able to help.
Technical help setting up computers for online school classes:
If you need help setting up computers (yours or ours) to participate in the classes, contact us, and we may be able to help remotely, either by helping one of your staff or in some cases by fixing the problem directly on the computers in question
Online content - finding educational content, simple programming, games
It is surprisingly hard to find good content online, to keep children engaged and productive. Please contact us if you need suggestions - we are putting together a list, together with help guides and short how-to videos.
Tutoring and help for your staff (remote or in-person)
If one of your staff would like to engage the children at some online activities, including ones around the online content mentioned above, she may want some support to get started. We are happy to offer a few hours of remote or in-person tutoring to help her familiarize herself with the activities and answer any questions.
Please let us know if any of this could help your organization, and
contact us with questions, requests, or other ideas
A Final Note
As mentioned before, whenever children use Spark equipment, or any other shared equipment for that matter, it is important that they wash their hands, sanitize the laptops and follow any other suitable precautionary measures.
More generally, although the virus-suppression measures are weighing on all of us, we urge everyone to do their utmost to comply. We should do so not only to protect our own health and the health of those around us, but also out of respect to our fellow citizens - crucially, respect for those most vulnerable among us, for the medical staff in the front lines, as well as for all the people who are suffering financially, socially, professionally or emotionally, either due to health reasons or due to the very real containment measures the virus has necessitated.