By Lisha Gomes | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 30, 2020

Schools have gone online since the pandemic and now, almost after a Term is over, ‘online’ fatigue is seeping into the kids as they miss the school environment. While it was fun at first attending online classes, it was also easy for the children to get accustomed to classes ‘on screen’.

However, for children of Holy Cross Special School, this was a different world altogether. As it is, they need constant personal care when in school, and coming online was a huge challenge, which they, along with their parents and school have surmounted.

Initially, the school was wondering how to tackle the ‘no school’ situation but soon, Sr. Ancy Anthony, principal of the School since 2006, along with the teaching staff found a way out: they had to go online, too!

And this is where the parents had to walk that extra mile to ensure their child was ‘in class’. Taxing no doubt, but today, the parents are beaming as they have understood their child better.

The online classes got the parents completely involved in the teaching-learning process and the positive side is that it has helped them connect more with their children. When speaking to the parents, all of them were of the opinion that going online has helped them bond with their children much more than when they actually had to attend school. When they were in school, they were completely under the guidance of the teachers. The parents often were not aware of the activities very much. Now that they have to support their child for every activity, they have developed a deeper bond.

About Holy Cross Special School…

Holy Cross Special School was started in 1996 in Thane (West). There is a girls’ school, and a separate building for Special Children. Their motto is ‘Self-Reliance’ and whoever steps into this School needs to be self-reliant. Here, they offer training in different professional fields like chef training and visual arts to name a few and even provide these students placements in fields they are good at. Sharanam–Vits Kamat Group of Hotels and other CA firms offer internship opportunities to these students in housekeeping and other jobs.

Holy Cross Special School
Holy Cross Special School have a lot of events and that hasn’t stopped even with classes going online.

Difficulties going online for Special Children…

One of the difficulties when it comes to differently-abled children is keeping them focused for an entire class. For this, a lot of measures need to be taken: teachers need to keep the attention of the students through audio-visual means as there is an absence of physical touch. For Special Children, physical touch is beneficial and since this wasn’t possible online, parents needed to get involved and they played a major part in the students’ online classes.

Offline, teachers had a classroom, chalk, board and most importantly, physical connect. Since they don’t have any of these now, they have to train the parents to help the children. While the bigger children can manage on their own, it is compulsory for children till the age of 15 to have one parent attending the online classes with them. The teachers make use of voice and pictures to keep the students interested and involved and help them learn. Each age group has different classes, and in order to make it look more like school to these children, they have to wear the uniform and sports uniform depending on the respective classes.

Activities continue online…

Even after going online, the activities have not stopped. Fancy Dress and other competitions along with different celebrations like birthdays and Diwali have continued. Recently, on November 11, the school celebrated Diwali and Children’s Day together online. And it was a huge success. They also have birthday celebrations of every child and since now the parents are also ‘students’, their birthdays too are celebrated! Depending on the season and events, the school plan various activities. Teachers inform the parents in advance what materials will be required for various activities. Later, they get online to make various decorations and artefacts. This is how they have managed to keep the children busy and engaged.

Holy Cross Special School
With Holy Cross Special School going online, the parent-child bond has only grown stronger.

Parents speak…

Sapna Jajoo: “My daughter Kasturi is 18-years-old and is studying at the CTC (Career Training Centre). She has a Delay Milestone and joined Holy Cross Special School last year. Even with online classes, the school is managing well. They have videos that keep the children busy and engaged. It has benefitted my daughter immensely and I am able to connect and bond with her more.”

Dominic Fernandes: “When we had first taken my son, Jonathan, to the doctor, they were surprised to see him, because cases of epilepsy like his are mostly bedridden. He is able to walk without any help. He is 12-years-old, and has been in Holy Cross Special School since the last five years. Since classes have gone online, the teachers tell us how we can help improve our children. We are trying to do what they used to do when in school, which has been beneficial to us as parents.”

Shali Joffy: “My son Johan is 17-years-old and is studying at CTC. He has low muscle tone and is intellectually disabled. Even though his friends in a normal school used to try and help him, he wasn’t able to cope and hence we moved him to Holy Cross Special School when he was 13. The teachers here take a lot of effort and even send correction videos, which is very helpful. We as parents have also learnt so much sitting online with our son.”

Suchitra Punekar: “The School has a lot of events that encourage children, and that hasn’t stopped even with classes going online. My son, Aditya, is 13-years-old and has autism, but he stood Second in the Fancy Dress competition online. The school has a well-rounded approach to education and don’t focus on only academics but also on personality development, besides other extra-curricular activities.  Before the online classes actually began, the school took the time to ensure that everything was moving smoothly before connecting with the students.”

(Lisha Gomes is a third year BMM (Bachelor of Mass Media) student at St. Andrews College, Bandra, Mumbai. She is passionate about reading, enjoys singing and has also participated in a few dance shows. She plays soccer for her college. She was a star performer for her schoolMary Immaculate Girls High School, Borivali).

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  1. In these bleak times here is a lesson in positivity, hope and joy. Makes us all re-look at our lives anew. Congratulations Sr Ancy and Holy Cross for surmounting the unsurnountable and the parents for their endless beautiful awe-inspiring love.

  2. The school has been a path breaker in many areas of child development and this is yet another unique challenge that they have successfully handled. With an extremely dedicated set of teachers, who are also perennial learners; the team is fortunate to have at the helm a dynamic leader in their Principal Sister Ancy, Wishing the school more successes.

  3. Special thanks to Teachers , Parents and staff. I feel proud as a special educator in Holy Cross special school. You all are doing a great job keep going👍🏻🙏🏻🙌🏻👌🏻

    Miss you all
    Laxmi Tr.

  4. Great work by the teachers of Holy Cross Special School to keep the interest of the students in these times, via the online medium. God Bless!
    Special compliments also to the parents who had to be the last mile, in the physical absence of the teacher. And to the writer of this piece, for opening doorz to a special world.

    Not directly related, but a good example of the impersonal nature of technology ( inspite of it being safe during the pandemic ) when the specially abled need physical connect and personal attention.

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