Today marks 80 days since the closure of all schools in Peru. This has been especially challenging for our students who need specialized instruction and care. Considering the current public health crisis, we expect that our brick and mortar classroom will remain closed for the remainder of 2020. We are still unsure about Manos Unidas Café.
The Peruvian Ministry of Education has requested all private schools to present a formal program for May-December (end of the 2020 school year) based on virtual learning; a key indicator that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, but not “suspended”. Thus, at this juncture we are providing our services to MUP children and families through a virtual environment–currently free of charge to all families due to the economic hardship the community of Cusco is facing.
With the help of our nimble teachers who instantly designed lesson plans according to the needs of each student group and available technology we have been delivering our programs virtually. In the last 5 weeks we have been successful in reaching 52 of 60 registered MUP students from our school and café program. These students and families are actively participating in the virtual teaching program through zoom classrooms, WhatsApp video calls and Google Meet. Each teacher is working with approximately 6-8 students ranging in age from 4-20 years old. For example, the early childhood autism classroom receives 3 individual phone calls a week @30 minutes and the teacher follows a sequence of learning material to work on with the families. She instructs the families on how to implement and teach the skill then does a follow up call two days later.
We are also focused on teaching functional skills for independence such as chores around the house and implementing TEACCH boxes that give students a sequence of functional activities to complete, ideally independently, using materials found around the house. Example: sort silverware, peel potatoes or shuck peas. Our older youth are meeting as a group and have been working on pre-recorded classroom sessions.
MUP plans to carry on with a virtual program that schedules core educational competencies to be taught on a weekly basis over the next eight months and start a pre-recorded virtual education library for teachers to share resources between one another. Stay tuned for updates!