Grades 5 to 10 are back at SMD!
We’re thrilled to announce that schools in Nepal are allowed to operate again and SMD School is in the process of phasing in students by grade.
We initially brought all our grade 10’s back into boarding (hostel). They went into a week of isolation and attended online classes from their rooms. Our Medical Officer, Nelha Sangmo, managed intake and safety protocols. Some of our hostel teachers also returned, among them our other Medical Officer, Ms. Balkumari.
Once we had a safe ‘bubble’ for the grade 10s, physical classes started. All staff (support and teaching staff) are temperature checked when they arrive and wear masks while on campus; if they are working directly with children, they are also wearing face shields and doing their best to maintain two meters physical distancing meters; this is tricky in our crowded classrooms!
With the successful phase in of our grade 10’s we’ve now also brought back our grades 5 to 9—everyone is very happy to be back, and we held our first joyous assembly of the 2020-2021 school year!
2020-21 School Year Extension
While normally our school year ends in April, the Nepal government has extended it by two months to June 14 to cover as much of the missed material as possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the past year, most of our students were able to receive either online classes from SMD teachers or in-person classes in their villages, thanks to our older students and alumni who volunteered to teach their younger peers in their home villages. However, there were naturally many disruptions, initially it took time to get the online and distance programs up and running, and then village harvests and winter cold got in the way of regular access for many students. So, we will do our level best over the next two months to cover the material so that our grade 8s and 10s will be prepared to take the National Board Exams in June—those are the toughest two grade years for students in Nepal.
The new 2021-22 School year begins on June 15 (no break this year) and we are able to hold the student sponsorship rates the same. We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors and donors. Your generosity has kept us afloat in these hard times.
In Case You Missed It…
No post: The Nepal Post Office has not handled outgoing mail for the past year and there is no respite in sight. Incoming mail is operating.
Book donations: The government lifted the tax that had been levied on foreign-published books, so if you would like to send us books, we are happy to receive them for our SMD School library.
Food relief: During the past year, we had an independent initiative running that allowed us to deliver food relief five different times to mountain villages as the situation due to COVID-19 was dire and people have been struggling greatly. The food drops were huge and helped mountain people survive the winter after a year when crops failed in the districts of Sindhupalchok, Nubri and Tsum. Across Nepal, there were many people who committed suicide due to their inability to repay loans, fear of starvation and other COVID-related issues. For people near SMD School, we will continue our weekly food relief into spring.
Our young monks: While SMD School was closed during the past year, our school-aged monks and their monk teachers moved from the Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery to the SMD School campus and hostel so that they would be safe and have more room to play during the lockdown. They’re now back at the monastery and will come back again as day students for their classes.