Thursday, April 22

Now a modified nursery rhyme helps school students learn social distancing in Goa


Even as society struggles with the demands of and the need to maintain social distancing, a modified nursery rhyme set to the tune of the popular ‘Ringa-Ringa-Roses’ is helping young students in schools to understand the need and the importance of social etiquette and the need to maintain social distancing.

The nursery rhyme that has been taught to nearly 50,000 students across the state who are then expected to help educate their parents as well as the community incorporates the need to maintain at least two feet distance from others (two arms length), how to sneeze into one’s sleeve rather than palms and wash their hands correctly.

As the nation fights a pandemic to curb the coronavirus, doctors and healthcare workers at the frontline are on a mission risking their lives to create awareness especially at rural level so that people understand the gravity of the situation and are better aware to tackle this pandemic.

A brainchild of father-daughter duo Dr Jorson Fernandes and his daughter Jolene Fernandes, the nursery rhyme has proven to be crucial now that the Goa government has begun to reopen schools in a phased manner.

As part of the ‘actions’ that go along with the rhyme, children have been taught to hold their arms apart and spin around to ensure that no one is within touching distance while also being taught to sneeze into their sleeves instead of openly or into their palms in order to help inculcate the habit.

“During the lockdown, we observed that if we were to successfully tackle the virus the behavior pattern would need to change. In order to bring about a behavior change and to make citizens not merely responsible but also ‘responsive’ towards the fight against Covid-19, we designed a program to educate teachers on the right measures to prevent the infection, in state schools,” Dr Fernandes told

Dr Fernandes visited schools handing out the instruction material as well as training the teachers who would then teach their students and who were then encouraged to teach those at home on how the virus could be prevented through simple steps like handwashing, wearing face masks correctly and following social distancing. The programme has been operating for the last six months and aims to reach one and a half lakh people.

Dr Fernandes who is a member of the Rotary Club designed a comprehensive programme called the Covid Awareness Programme that included not just nursery rhymes but also demos on the proper way for handwashing, how to wear a face mask correctly, through the awareness videos.

The programme brought together various schools and started educating them via 1hour-long sessions around social distancing, handwashing techniques, use of hand sanitizer and use of masks, gloves and PPE kits – through awareness videos.

In the span of last three to four months, they have covered over 500 teachers and parents from 25 schools in 7 districts on educating them about the Dos and Don’ts for Covid-19 prevention. Their aim is to scale up and reach out to 5000 teachers all over Goa and about 150,000 students + parents and community members.

The Government of Goa has now decided to adopt the CAP project, inviting this father-daughter duo to replicate this module in the entire of Goa, and requested for support in devising a plan to resume classroom education for children in the state.

Besides schools the programme has also reached industrial units, churches and private offices who are eager to ensure that their staff receive the training and proper understanding on how the virus spreads and how best it can be curbed.

Classes in Goa have resumed with children now being allowed to attend school for students of Std X and XII albeit with adequate social distancing measures. A decision on allowing other classes will be taken later.