Education during war: shelters ready in Kiliia's schools?
In two of the five schools in Kiliia, only online studies are available. Three schools have shelters, but they cannot accommodate all the students. We will tell you how this problem is being solved in the Education Department and about the condition of Kiliia school shelters.
Full-time studies in all educational institutions of Kiliia resumed on February 14. But less than two weeks later they had to be suspended again. Full-scale war broke out.
"Children didn't study for two weeks. We were all shocked by what was happening, we didn't know what would happen next and how long the war would last. After a while we understood – it won't end soon, but studies must be continued. Students switched to distance learning," says Serhii Merhut, Head of the City Council Education Department.
According to him, the long COVID-19 quarantine helped to arrange distance learning in such a way that after the outbreak of a full-scale war, it was no longer difficult to return to this format of education. The only problem is that this time it was important to arrange a safe educational environment for those who do not want or cannot study online.
Three of the five schools in Kiliia have opted for blended learning during wartime. These are secondary schools No. 1, 3 and 4. These schools will be able to conduct studies both remotely and offline.
"This combination is suitable for various classes: practical and laboratory classes can be conducted offline, and lectures can be done remotely. In primary schools, in institutions where there are the simplest shelters, we will recommend conducting classes offline," says Serhii Merhut.
The final decision on whether classes will be held in an offline, online, or mixed mode will be made by the school administration, based on the recommendations from regional and district military administrations.
"We have interviewed more than 1,700 parents. 56% of respondents voted for mixed and distance learning," the Head of the City Council Education Department shares the results of a survey of parents. According to him, most of the Kiliian students, teachers and technical staff remained in the city.
Yaroslav Nerushyian, Director of Kiliia secondary educational institution No. 3, shows where the children will be staying during the air alert
"The commission chose the corridor of the first floor as a shelter," says Yaroslav Nerushyian, Director of Kiliia secondary school No. 3.
There are 580 children studying in this school. But its shelter is designed for only 125 people.
"We are limited by shelter standards. There should be 0.6 square meters per person. Therefore, we will study in two shifts in a blended form. For example, an elementary school should be like this: grades 1 and 3 study for one week, and grades 2 and 4 study for another week. The final decision is made by the pedagogical meeting," says the Director.
The shelter was equipped both independently and with the help of other specialists.
"We made the marking for route signs to the shelter and installed signs at the entrance door, benches, tables, and water vessels. We did everything by ourselves. But reinforcement of doorways with non-combustible material, and installation of video surveillance and alarm security systems should be done by specialists. We have ordered lanterns, candles, fire extinguishing agents, a generator, and installed Wi-Fi devices," says Yaroslav Nerushyian.
When preparing shelter facilities for students, teachers reflected on missed opportunities and plans. War is war, but we need to adapt, we need to learn.
The war took away the dream of modern computer rooms and STEAM labs from Kiliia schoolchildren.
"We have planned four projects to equip two STEAM labs and two language labs. They were supposed to appear in Kiliia schools No. 3 and No. 4. In early 2022, we passed the first regional stage of the government program "Capable School for Better Results". In February, our projects were supposed to be considered by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. Last year, under this program, we set up a STEAM laboratory in Kiliia secondary school No. 1. Therefore, I believe that this year we also had a great chance to receive funding," Serhii Merhut regrets the missed opportunities.
Also, due to the war, Kiliia teachers were forced to suspend cooperation with the Swiss-Ukrainian project DECIDE for a while.
"In February-March, we had to submit 15 projects from our students for consideration. We were very worried. It is important for students not only to develop a project but also to protect and implement it. However, this idea also had to be abandoned due to the war. Today, DECIDE has resumed its work in Ukraine, we continue to cooperate and hope to win the competition," says Yaroslav Nerushyian, Director of the Kiliia Lyceum No. 3.
STEAM laboratory, or Space Flight Control Center (photo from the archive of secondary school № 1)
Summer, leisure, robotics (photo from the archive of Serhii Merhut)
This year, the annual summer recreation of children was also under threat. However, thanks to the resumption of the DECIDE project, Kiliia children managed to attend a summer camp at school No. 3. They held sports games, robotics and drawing classes.
"This school has a modern sports ground and a safe courtyard. During the alarm, the simplest shelters were used – corridors. We hid using the two-wall rule," shares the Head of the Education Department.
The children also had an excursion to the department of the State Emergency Service and the volunteer center.
Both schoolchildren and adults really liked this format of educational recreation. Therefore, such excursions are planned to be made regular in the new academic year.
"Children-members of the student government together with the mayor could participate in the events, give advice and express their point of view," Serhii Merhut shares his plans.
The Mayor and children (photo from the archive of Serhii Merhut)
Kiliia teachers and students actively volunteer.
"We have held charity fairs in almost all educational institutions of the community. In total, we have raised more than 300,000 hryvnias," says Serhii Merhut, the Head of the Kiliia City Council Education Department.
Kiliia school No. 4 united teachers, students, and parents. Together they wove nets, made patriotic crafts for charity fairs, and cooked delicious food for the city's territorial defense.
Students of school No. 3 help in the Kiliia volunteer center: weave nets, make camouflage suits "kikimora", and collect necessary things.
"No one can stand aside right now. All our activities bring our victory closer," the Head of the Kiliia City Council Education Department feels confident.
Everyday work for the benefit of Ukraine (photo from the archive of school No. 4)
Everyone has their own front, and each front is important (photo from the archives of secondary school No. 3)
Writer: Olesya Lantzman