Home-schooling: Keeping kids up to speed during school closure

Posted this as a thread on Twitter to help parents at this time of Coronavirus, COVID-19, school closure. Schools are struggling to cope with the demand for online learning. Parents are worried about what else their kids are missing from school. 

There are lots of things that teachers at schools do that parents cannot replicate at home. Well, that is why parents send their kids to schools in the first place.


tips for home schooling - right skills

Competency levels: Numeracy, Reading and Writing

The concepts taught at schools (elementary, primary and secondary) are related and increase in complexity as a child passes through the education leader.

Identifying the basic skills and knowledge and relay them effectively is what teachers are known for. That is why you can not replace a teacher unless you know exactly what you are doing when it comes to 'teaching'.

At this unprecedented time, there is no choice but to help the children learn as much as they can before moving on to the next grade-level at school. 

That means that the children must learn, know and apply the basic skills and knowledge at the current grade-level.

School syllabus

There is a way to identify what the kids are expected to know at school, specifically at the grade-level. And, that is through the school syllabus


PNG National Department of Education has a good collection of PNG schools syllabi from elementary to primary and secondary schools.

10 tips to help kids learn during school closure

Here are 10 tips to identify the skills and knowledge kids are expected to know. 

1. Get a school syllabus and find out what your child is expected to know at grade level.

2. Talk to your child's teacher about what s/he is learning in class this term. Or check the child's exercise books.

3. Identify a few key areas.

4. Focus on Numeracy and Literacy key areas - avoid introducing ideas outside of the school syllabus.

5. Introduce they 'key areas' from the school syllabus at random, during plays or when having casual chat with kids..make it fun

6. Emphasis on downtime and reading.

7. Find out fun ways to introduce the timetable. Challenge kids to learn 6, 7 and 8 tables by the 'recall' method.

8. Introduce life skills like making bilum, sewing, gardening, painting, etc

9. Have a list of things to do and reward system.

10. Chat with them. Get to know your child.

PNG Education Department Asked to Shut School Early for Two Weeks Due to COVID-19

It is reassuring to learn that on Sunday (22 March 2020), the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea laid out the plan for the fight against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. 


Together we fight against COVID-2019

PNG Insight raised the question of school closure and possible implications on students' learning.  Read the two articles earlier: 

Regardless of the people's expectations of the leaders in the government, today is a time to come together and fight as a team - leaders and people together as one. 

PNG PM laid-out 13 control-measures to limit and stop movement of people across the international, national and provincial borders; as well as among people within the community in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Are schools closing?

The Prime Minister made it absolutely clear that schools should close early for Term 1 holiday on Monday, 23 March 2020.

Of the 13 resolutions at the emergency parliamentary council meeting, point 8 in the press release read:
"8. Education and Higher Education departments are asked to advance first term holiday as of tomorrow 23rd of March and the next 14 days are to be school holidays". [PM Press Release, Sunday 20/03/2020]
It appears that the students will have an early 2-week holiday whilst the govt assesses the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Australia issue level 4 travel restriction

The Australian High Commission in PNG issued a level 4 security warning - the highest travel warning from a scale of 1 to 4. 

do not travel overseas australia
AUSTRALIAN H/C in PNG - LEVEL 4 TRAVEL RESTRICTION

Below is the PM's press release of the 13-point plans

Today based on advice from the COVID-19 National Operation Centre (NOC 19) and National Security Council (NSC) recommendations, the National Executive Council (NEC) in an emergency meeting has decided on the following measures in light of the first positive case of COVID-19 in our country.

This is a national security issue now and not just a health issue but a cross-cutting issue including the effect on economy, law and order and education of our children amongst other effects. Hence the relevance of the following measures.

So far we have done trace of the person that came into our country and he remains to date our only positive person who is in isolation and recovering but to clearly demarcate our country from the spread and for Government to take stock from this biosecurity breach, we are taking the following measures.

 1. Confirm this first case and it’s the impact to ensure we contain its impact including treating, curing and sending the victim back to Australia.

 2. Taking stock of all entry into PNG after 7th of March to ensure all are checked, tested and status of health affirmed. All who have come in or those that have come in contact with those who came into PNG since 7th of March are to report to the hotline below.

 3. Declare a State of Emergency for 30 days in which the Commissioner of Police will assume control assisted by a callout placed on the military to ensure lawful order, control and response to SOE control measures.

 4. Following on our stop of incoming international flights, we now stopping all domestic flights for the next 14 days starting on Tuesday this week.

 5. We direct that as of Tuesday 24th March 2020, no Public transportation of people and no movement from one province to another for a 14 day period. Only approved cargo and medicine and police /military personal will be moving.

 6. The Provincial Governors and their Provincial Administrators with Provincial Police Commanders with the respective Provincial Health Authorities will be control points in all province.

 7. All heads of departments and private companies are to embrace safe workplace practice and non-essential staff are asked to stay at home for the next 14 days.

 8. Education and Higher Education departments are asked to advance first term holiday as of tomorrow 23rd of March and the next 14 days are to be school holidays.

 9. All who have come into the country as from the 7th of March 2020 or those who made contact with those who came into the country from that date please report, call or text to the hotline below.

 10. No border crossing by foot or canoe and police /army presence in border areas will be stepped up.

 11. Banks and financial institutions and super funds will be mobilised to work with Government on economic packages in this downtime.

 12. The SOE controller through the office of Prime Minister will be the only official point of releasing statements to the public.

 13. The SOE controller will issue on details on how citizens and our country respond and behalf in this time and breach of those will be punished as an offence in times of emergency.

We have now mapped the country into zones to isolate this virus from spreading. 
  • The mid PNG zone from Morobe and Madang Provinces into the entire highlands,
  • the Central Papua (including NCD, Central and Gulf), 
  • the Niugini Island Zone, 
  • the Sepik Zone, 
  • the Western Border Zone and 
  • the Bougainville Zone.

The SOE commander will delicate the PPCs to police the zones to ensure lawful abiding to this control measures.

We will get through this phase, we ask from the corporation from all citizens, residents and businesses houses.

God bless PNG.

Press C19/ 22.03.20 | Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape

Govt: Clear and Precise Response to Coronavirus Implication on Education Calendar

A response to our question Will PNG School Close Because of Coronavirus? The comments are from the senior educationist and former Education Secretary Dr Michael Tapo EdD. 

Valuable insight into the likely impacts of Coronavirus on Education and what can be done...


Foremost, before discussing closing the schools or not to close, think about the interconnectedness of the economy, social, educational, trade, technology, scientific knowledge, and many challenges of Papua New Guinea as a country and its people.

Paying the teachers while they are not working, school time calendar, examinations, public views and comments, and others are just as pertinent before a final decision is made.

Coronavirus: Interdepartmental communication

Coronavirus matter is a 'national disaster' and not regular health and hygiene matter. 

Current law allows health and education officials such as the two departmental heads to communicate and reach the verdict. 

Next, the National Education Board decides the final outcome. The Education Minister is advised who then, as the Minister responsible, informs the NEC to close or not to close.

Legislative responses and disaster management 

Beyond the decision to close the schools is that there are serious considerations by the Parliament. The members of government and opposition should join forces to legislate laws for the Coronavirus as a national disaster. This must be immediate and urgent because of its massive great consequences.

This virus will wipe out a percentage of our people once they are infected and spreads widely. Papua New Guinea absorptive capacity right now cannot control the spread of virus amongst members of communities, at the village, districts, rural areas and towns. 
Coronavirus is a matter of life and death to every member of Papua New Guinean society as a nation. 

Coronavirus management efforts overseas 

For instance, the developed countries like UK, USA, Australia, France, Italy, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, China and South Korea and many others have taken quick actions. 

These nations, their politicians, virus medical experts and scientists are spending every day to find ways to fight against the Coronavirus. 

They recommend clear and precise laws and policies for members of the public and its total citizens to understand and comply.

Coronavirus cannot be treated to date. It may take at least two to three years to find the dine to cure it completely. Worldwide 200,000 are infected. 8,000 people as of today's date have died.

No one, and I stress no one, is immune to Coronavirus. There is no cure for this virus. It is passed on from persons-to-persons.

Social media information can cause confusion and panic as experienced by the countries mentioned above.

Legislative responses – urgent 

I recommend authorities and leaders in responsible positions from the Health Department, Provincial Government, Organic Law, Education Act, and Parliamentary Acts are diligent. 

This virus has massive nation-wide consequences and challenges the application, implementation and implications of these regulations.

New laws must be approved to deal with this virus. The only Directive must be from the government and no one else.

Closing schools - decision

In the case of the decision to close the school, the new law must be introduced alongside 'National Disaster” law to realistically control the Coronavirus Pandemic.

ABC website is recommended for Papua New Guinea policymakers, health officials, hospitals, governors of provinces and school authorities, radio and TV stations to have access to 
  • the latest evidence-based information, 
  • the types of the required new legislation, and 
  • the questions of what, when, how and where, the national and provincial government can and or cannot do.

The comment was updated for easy reading. Published with permission from the writer.

RECOMMENDED READING: 

Schools Shutdown due to Coronavirus COVID-2019


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Schools Shutdown due to Coronavirus COVID-2019

Schools in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji are taking measures to address the spread of the coronavirus in the event that cases are detected near the pupils and people they are in contact with.

IMAGE: Coronavirus-map 2020

Major news reports have indicated that schools in Japan, the US, the UK and the Pacific are talking about measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus among children.


In fact, moves were made to shut down schools amid coronavirus detection. 



IMAGE: MAIL ONLINE UK

The Nine News reported that two schools have shut down in Australia due to confirmed cases of coronavirus among their students, (St Patrick's Marist College and Willoughby Girls School corona shut down, Nine News). 


Coronavirus safety measures

There are certain prevention measures individuals can take to make it safe for themselves and others around them. This includes:
  • washing hands thoroughly - refer to the hand-washing technique below
  • keeping your distance from others - recommended 1 to 2 metres apart
  • avoid using publicly shared items like lime/kambang and especially money notes and coins - resort to using cards as much as possible at this time
  • limit attendance to public gatherings and public places where there is a large number of incoming and outgoing traffic such as airports and bus stops. 
Above all, look out for each other, the elderly and children. 

PNG Schools, communities and coronavirus watch

Remoteness and less outside contact is the best friend for PNG schools. In villages and outstations, the population have less contact with outsiders. 

That makes it fairly safe.

But, many towns and cities have contact with travellers coming in from Port Moresby, Lae and other tourist hotspots in the country are among the risk group. And, they are likely to spread the virus to local communities and school children.

Having said that, the local communities need to have some kind of Community Watch for people who are travelling into the local villages and communities from the major centres.

There is no need for fear.

However, a concerted effort to contain the spread of coronavirus in villages and remote communities is urgent.

School and community hygiene and coronavirus   - important

Perhaps it is important to limit contact with others as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus if/when a case happens to surface in the country and in a local area.

Meanwhile, there are basic health and hygiene practices students can do to stay safe from coronavirus in schools. Among them is washing hands with soap whilst singing “Happy Birthday to Me’.



Wash you hands lyrics and infographics online

If you want to sing to your favourite song, check this brilliant website called WashYourHandsLyrics. Basically, you type the song title/singer name and the app puts the lyrics onto the NHS handwashing infographics. 

Right now the Bohemian Rhapsody is popular. Check out these PNG Unity songs to create your own infographics and lyrics. 

The high-risk group – kids and elderly

The coronavirus COVID-2019 related deaths recorded are among the elderly people and school (younger) children. This group needs attention. 

The elderly and young children may not be the likely group to have had vast exposure to the public and hence exposed to coronavirus. But, they can be infected through a family member or others close to them who may have had exposure to coronavirus, COVID-2019.

Therefore, able-bodied people need to take preventative measures seriously to prevent any spread of the virus to their household.

Everyone needs to take care of each other.

School shutdown due to coronavirus - no need to panic

There is NO case of confirmed coronavirus in PNG. A FAKE online map showed a red mark on PNG map. 

No need to believe it.



Unless the local PNG health authorities mentioned a case of coronavirus in PNG, there is absolutely no need to panic.

Schools are not shutting down in PNG. Students are going to schools and teachers are teaching. However, it is better to have contingency plans in place. 

That means that the school Board and managers should have a ‘list of things to do’ if/when there is a corona-case detected nearby.

So, planning for school shutdown should be happening: what to do, how to keep learning going, and how long to shut the school.

Should PNG Schools be worried - yes

Surely. Any widespread infection is a course for public concern. PNG schools should definitely be worried, but not scared.

No need to rush to the shops and fight over toilet papers or shut schools down just because there is a case of cold flu in the school.

As mentioned, close schools and limit exposures to public gatherings IF there is a clear case of the viral coronavirus breakout in PNG. 


But, schools must not close because of rumours and scaremongering.

Life must go on as normal.

Coronavirus COVID-19: PNG PMs Address to the Nation on Preparedness and Response Plan

PM JAMES MARAPE'S ADDRESS TO THE NATION ON CORONA VIRUS

My fellow Papua New Guineans:

The world is currently facing a common enemy – the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic.

As of today, there are more than 132,000 cases of COVID-19 and almost 5,000 deaths reported globally. There are 122 countries, territories and areas that have reported cases. It has also come to our Pacific neighbour of French Polynesia.

Papua New Guinea, as I speak to you today, has no case of COVID-19. However, we have to continue to be on high alert as the risk of COVID-19 entering Papua New Guinea, just like the rest of our region and the world, is very high.

The PNG Government, since January, has recognized this threat to our country and we have started our preparedness measures.

We have a team of dedicated health experts and professionals who are working round-the-clock to ensure we have measures in place to prevent, detect, manage and treat any case of COVID-19.

We have developed a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan that outlines key measures from across different scenarios: from the alert phase to containment and mitigation.

It has detailed actions and requirements identified in every phase and the budget for those activities has already been approved by NEC on Wednesday this week.

These codes are the following:

Code Scenario
  • ALERT (green) No case of COVID-19 in PNG (Cases are reported outside of Papua New Guinea)
  • CONTAINMENT (orange) Confirmed case of COVID-19 in PNG (At least one case confirmed in PNG)
  • MITIGATION (red) Community spread of COVID-19 (Human-to-human transmission in clusters within the community)
❑ We continue to put in measures to prevent the entry of the virus into the country. We have personnel at our points of entry who are screening inbound passengers. Our surveillance team conducts follow-up checks for those travellers.

❑ However, even with these measures, it would be wrong to assume that we will not get the virus. We continue to prepare for the worst-case scenario and make our system ready to response.
Some of the additional measures we are taking are;

● Prevent all passengers travelling from the following countries from entering PNG until they have completed a 14-day quarantine outside the country – these countries include;
  • Italy, 
  • Iran, 
  • South Korea,
  • Japan and 
  • Mainland China.
● Place a 60-day ban on all public servants from official overseas travel.
● Ban on Cruise Ships and yachts used for leisure with more than 15 people on board.
● Setting up quarantine facilities initially in Port Moresby and Lae and eventually in Rabaul and Mount Hagen as part of our contingency plan preparations.
● Ban on boarder travel until further notice.
● For the next 90 days requiring quarantine, clearance must be cleared only at the declared ports of Motukea, Lae and Rabaul. Severe penalties will be imposed on overseas sailing directly to any unauthorized ports.
● Under our surveillance system, we are keeping data and monitoring the movement of people coming in and out of the country and particularly where they are in PNG using the supplementary health declaration forms.
● Any persons of interest showing signs and symptoms are further interviewed and self-quarantined.
● As of 13th March, we have tested 16 persons of interest in our IMR WHO Accredited Laboratory in Goroka and all have returned negative results for COVID – 19.
● PNG IMR is also preparing to conduct COVID – 19 testings in Port Moresby and Madang within two weeks.
● We will review and update our measures regularly, based on the risk assessment.

I would like to thank the Department of Health, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Immigration and Citizenship Authority, National Airports Cooperation, Air Niugini and the World Health Organization and other development partners for all your efforts so far.

While your efforts have been commendable, I urge all involved in our response including government agencies, development partners and the general public to remain vigilant as we deal with the threat of this terrible contagious illness.

I recommend that you continue to read verifiable information and inform yourselves correctly. A hotline (7196 0813) has also been established to address the immediate need for information or reporting and to answer questions people may have.

As the Government continues to put in place measures, the PNG people have the role to play. There are very simple things you can do and I want to remind you of these measures:
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • If you cough or sneeze—do it into your flexed elbow or use a tissue. Dispose of the tissue immediately into a closed rubbish bin, and then wash your hands.
  • Clean your house, offices or stores. Disinfect surfaces, tables or work desks.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you feel unwell, stay at home and avoid crowded places. Do not spread the disease to others.
The health teams continue to conduct a risk assessment. Any further updates will be released regularly to ensure that citizens are kept abreast of the status of coronavirus globally and in PNG.

Honourable James Marape, MP
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
PRESS RELEASE 13th March, 2020