by Yosley Carrero
HAVANA, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Mauro Cirion, a 13-year-old student who lives in Havana's Bahia district, is learning math at home via televised classes amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
The nation's most populous city, along with nearly 20 other municipalities, canceled in-person classes a week ago as the Caribbean nation strove to contain the sharpest hike in infections since the coronavirus pandemic began last year.
The adolescent, who usually rushes to get to school on time after having breakfast, now sees how his daily routine has changed.
"I am getting accustomed to homeschooling," he told Xinhua. "I am learning, though in a different way."
Havana, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Cuba, reopened schools in early October for the first time since March, one month after the rest of the island.
Televised lessons are broadcast on local TV channels from Monday to Friday as part of a joint initiative launched by Cuban education officials and the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television.
Educational programs on Cuban TV channels also urge students to follow protective measures and reinforce handwashing procedures to minimize the risk of contagion with the virus while staying home.
Cirion's mother, Ilionis Perez, a 45-year-old state employee, said that homeschooling poses new challenges for parents, who should help their children form new study habits.
She strongly believes that the success of remote learning very much depends on the time parents allocate to monitor how children are dealing with televised lessons.
"Homeschooling has been and will continue to be fundamental as the virus sticks around," she said. "It has changed the daily routines of many families, but it is important for children to learn."
Aside from televised classes, the Cuban educational system uses digital platforms and social media groups to facilitate communication between students and parents with teachers.
"The online scenario is very useful at the moment because it is helping us instruct students in a more personalized way," said 34-year-old Yolennys Romero, who works as a history teacher at a school in Bahia district.
"Lockdowns are forcing teachers, students and parents to be more creative. It is time to innovate," she added.
Local authorities have called on adults to protect children and adolescents after an increasing number of children under 18 contracted the virus over the past few weeks.
Yoania Falcon, provincial director of education in Havana, said families should make sure children follow the instructions provided by teachers.
"We will be teaching new contents which are fundamental for every subject," she said. "When we resume in-person classes, we will retake all these topics."
Cuba has reported 20,627 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 191 deaths as of Saturday.