During these unprecedented times of COVID -19 lockdown, it is imperative not to do large gatherings and practice social distancing. But, despite these challenging times, it is also essential to keep on practicing (following) one’s religion and to keep on learning about it. One such initiative is taken by Khalsa School, Westborough, MA.
Khalsa School is a program run by the New England Sikh Study Circle (NESSC) for kids to get an education in areas like Kirtan, Gurmukhi language Arts, and Sikh History. Khalsa School also runs classes like Tabla and Gatka. Most classes are usually held on Sundays from morning until afternoon, but sometimes they are held during the week. Khalsa School teaches various aspects of Sikh Religion to kids.
Due to the closing of Gurdwara sahib, Khalsa School has not been able to run regularly as scheduled in person classes. To make sure students don’t lose track of the various classes, Khalsa School switched to online schooling for all students. Kids of age 8 and above are doing zoom video sessions regularly and are given assignments which are submitted via online chats. Younger kids are getting homework via WhatsApp and parents are working with them to make sure their homework is submitted on time.
Gurmat Sangeet Classes: Teachers send video recordings of them performing the lessons of shabads which are then practiced by younger kids. For the older kids, they do zoom classes. All the kids use collaborative tools like Google Classroom and WhatsApp to send in homework.
Gurmukhi Classes: Teachers send WhatsApp pictures and videos of letters to be practiced. These videos contain exact pronunciations and with that, they explain the use of Gurmukhi letters in words as part of sentences also. Homework is given as part of video recording too. The students are all using Google Classroom and WhatsApp for homework, with the older kids doing Zoom sessions also.
Sikh History Classes: Teachers simply give younger kids the homework via WhatsApp and Google Classroom to read certain chapters or do certain assignments. The assignments are submitted via WhatsApp and Google Classroom, and the older kids also have Zoom sessions.
Tabla Classes: Tabla classes in Khalsa School are run by Amritpal Singh. These online classes are on WhatsApp and FaceTime video calls. The kids/adults are split into 3 groups based on age. Kids from 5-10 years old are one group, kids from 10-15 are another group, and finally, the older kids and adults are the last group. Each student has an individual 15-minute class with the teacher Amritpal Singh. The homework is sent out via WhatsaApp, and the students send a recording of their homework via WhatsApp.
Khalsa School administrative staff Jaswinder Kaur, Gurpreet Kaur and Manpreet Soin along with so many voluntary teachers have been working hard to persist through these times of crisis and get the kids the education they need in the Sikh Religion.
Khalsa School’s goal for students is to “Expose the children to rich traditions of the Sikh Culture.” and “Prepare them for lifelong dedication and appreciation of the Sikh Religion and way of life.” Kirtan, Gurmukhi, and Sikh History and all the other classes help Khalsa School to continue with their goal even in these unprecedented times. Our Sikh history has taught us that our Gurus have spread the word of Sikhi and Gurmat Sangeet to the whole world no matter what the circumstances are. We need to continue our journey of learning from a similar perspective.