By Duncan Mlanjira
African Bible College (ABC) in Lilongwe has suspended in-person classes for its Christian Academy beginning Monday, March 23 to April 3 following the fears of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) that has been rated as a global epidemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
A statement from ABC to parents and guardians says the decision is based on events in nearby countries the ABC Christian Academy administration team has made in which it feels “it is better to error on the side of safety, especially in light of what has happened in European countries where social distancing was delayed”.
“If there is anything we have learned from watching the spread of COVID-19 in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and America, it is that the virus is highly contagious and spreads extremely fast,” says the statement.
“At the end of the two-week period mentioned above, we will take our scheduled Easter break from April 4-19 [and] we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation.
“And We will notify you during the Easter break if we will resume classroom instruction on April 20, or if the distance learning program will be extended. This will be a week-to-week decision.”
The Academy says it will take Monday and Tuesday, March 23 and 24, to allow its teachers enough time to modify their classes so instruction is delivered online as part of a coordinated program approved by its administrative team.
Its goal is to have this system up and running on Wednesday, March 25 because at that time it will have expected the students to be prepared to engage with their teachers via a learning management system.
It further says 6th and 12th grade students should check their email daily and Reception to 5th grade parents will receive emails from their teachers.
“Additional details will be forwarded as soon as they are finalized by your individual classroom teachers.
“Throughout this process, the ABC Christian Academy is committed to ensuring that all students continue to receive quality instruction consistent with the academic goals and expectations.
“This suspension of in-class instruction means that we will be canceling all after school activities until at least April 19. This includes all athletic events and practices.
“Campus is closed to all students during this period. We plan to close school after classes on Friday March 20 [and] students in grades 7-12 may check out their Chrome books for use during this 2-week period after school on Friday.”
The Academy further says its teachers have spent this week preparing for distance learning by putting in many hard, long hours in addition to teaching their regular scheduled classes.
“We now have ready a very good distance learning program for grades Reception through to 12th.
“We are very proud of our teachers and their attitude and diligence in preparing for this new educational endeavor.”
The parents and guardians have also been appraised that the Academy is currently evaluating the possibility of operating the Ballet program during the next two weeks before the Easter break and that its director Mrs. Botha will be contacting them directly with a plan.
All ABC Christian Academy departments — academic, technology, admissions and the business offices are working together to provide the best service possible for its students and parents during this transitional period.
“We encourage parents to take these next few days to set up reliable internet access, purchase a dongle or set up a hot spot for students in grades 6-12.
“Parents of students in grades Reception to 5 will need to check email daily and weekly for instructions on distance learning for their children.”
The parents are encouraged to communicate with their child’s teacher through email and WhatsApp Groups that will be established by each classroom teacher because as part of the school’s social distancing measures they may not schedule face-to-face meetings or conferences during this two-week period.
“Additionally, please do not drop off your children at the ABC Christian Academy during this period [since] the playground, soccer fields, basketball court, tennis court and swimming pool will be closed to the public and all students and their families.”
The Academy has urged the parents and guardians to continue practicing sanitation measures at home as this is not a holiday but an attempt to ensure it does not suffer the same consequences from COVID-19 that has affected other countries.
This follows what South Africa and other countries affected by the virus have done by closing schools, banning gatherings of more than 100 people and imposing extensive travel bans — to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
According to a report on allAfica.com, In South Africa’s President Cyril Ramphosa directed the urgent and drastic measures by using a law known as the Disaster Management Act that declared a ‘national state of disaster’.
The report says this enables the government to have what Ramaphosa called “an integrated and coordinated disaster management mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus.”
The schools were closed from Wednesday, March 18 and will remain closed until after the Easter weekend and to compensate, the mid-year school holidays will be shortened by a week.