Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care’s Educational Institutions Respond to COVID Challenge One of the indirect victims of the coronavirus pandemic has been the education sector, which has witnessed closures of schools, colleges, and universities. Academic establishments have been forced to relook at the traditional paradigm of physical classrooms and in-person lessons, and to adopt a digital education experience. On account of the national lockdown, all education institutions were instructed to close in March 2020, and are yet to resume normal operations. During this time, the sevaks of Shrimad Rajchandra Educational Trust and sevarpits (staff) of the institutions faced several trials in taking care of the educational needs of the students of the economically and socially challenged areas of South Gujarat. They had to ensure that students remained motivated and continued to learn, as well as work out ways to prepare the teachers to take effective virtual lessons. By the grace of Param Krupalu Dev and inspiration from Pujya Gurudevshri, Shrimad Rajchandra Vidyapeeth and Shrimad Rajchandra Gurukul were successful in adapting and responding to this extraordinary situation. Shrimad Rajchandra Vidyapeeth The first science college across 238 villages of the Dharampur and Kaprada talukas, Shrimad Rajchandra Vidyapeeth currently offers Bachelors in Science (B.Sc) and Masters in Science (M.Sc) degrees in various fields. The lockdown came on the eve of the examinations for final year B.Sc and M.Sc students, and required a swift response so that they could prepare well in anticipation of the examinations. Key Challenges faced during Lockdown With students spread across 100+ villages, many lived in areas with poor or low internet connectivity, thereby limiting the transition to virtual learning. Many of the students did not have smart-phones and had to use that of their family members. With final examinations around the corner, students needed to remain motivated and focused. Response to the Situation Teachers were trained for conducting online sessions, and where necessary, IT infrastructure was made available to enable them to take sessions. Online classes were immediately mobilised, wherein teachers covered important topics and solved the doubts of students. To enable further accessibility, teaching material was also shared on other mediums such as WhatsApp. Recreating the personal interactions available in a physical setting (which are often lost in a virtual medium), faculty members touched base individually with every single student to help them plan and personalise their study time-table. Mock question papers, recorded videos and Youtube links for select topics were also provided to students. Each student was contacted over phone to assess his preparation and was provided guidance. For students who had to re-take an examination due to failure, teaching staff conducted special online classes to aid their preparation. Shrimad Rajchandra Gurukul A secondary and higher secondary school in Dharampur, Shrimad Rajchandra Gurukul is addressing the need of providing holistic education to the local rural population by combining academics with educational camps, extra-curricular activities, and hands-on learning. Even amidst the pandemic, it is heartening to note that the school delivered a 93% passing percentage in the 10th standard examinations compared to the Valsad district average passing percentage of 58%. Key Challenges faced during Lockdown In addition to poor or limited internet connectivity, several students did not have access to smartphones/computers/tablets. Adapting teaching methods to keep younger students as well as the older students engaged and motivated. Response to the Situation Teachers were trained in the art of effectively taking online classes, and the timetable for the school was re-organised so as to allow teachers and students to adapt to online lectures. With the help of the IT Team, additional laptops, tablets and bandwidth were provided to teachers for conducting online classes. Study material was delivered to few students through the school staff. Re-examination preparations for students who had failed in the 12th standard examinations were done through online lectures and counselling over phone calls. Keeping in mind the emotional health of students, the teachers and volunteers connected with students over regular calls to check their well-being and to ensure that they were not facing any issues while adjusting to virtual classes. Ratu Bhoya, a third year B.Sc student of Shrimad Rajchandra Vidyapeeth expressed his gratitude, “Our teachers not only took online classes but also made additional efforts of sending voice notes to resolve our queries. They were available always to clarify our doubts. We were provided with question banks and notes on difficult subjects, which helped us utilise the lockdown period to prepare for our examinations and added to our self-confidence.” Students of Shrimad Rajchandra Vidyavihar, a residential school for rural children, who had failed in their 10th standard examinations were also provided with remedial support. Online classes were also initiated for the current 10th standard batch. In such testing times, these educational institutions effectively responded to the challenges and took care of their students’ academic needs and mental well-being.