When Ms Vicki Liaw was in Kindergarten 2, she was asked to draw what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“I remember drawing my teacher at that time, and that has stuck with me ever since,” recalls the 20-year-old, who did eventually fulfil her aspira tions, and is now a teacher herself.

After graduating with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Ngee Ann Polytechnic last year, Ms Liaw joined E-Bridge Pre-School as an assistant teacher in June the same year, before becoming a class teacher for Nursery 2 in January this year.

Just as she was settling into her role, an unprecedented challenge in the form of Covid-19 came around to stretch her capabilities and change the future of learning.

When Ms Liaw found out that one of the children in her class had tested positive for Covid-19, she was concerned about the well-being of her family members — one of whom is highly vulnerable — and that of the other children in her class and their families.

She says: “I knew, however, that I had to be strong for my children and their families. My co-class teacher for Mandarin and I were wondering if we could manage the parents’ responses. Surprisingly, many parents were not only cooperative when the news broke, but they also offered encouragement to us in handling the situation. So I’m very thankful for the trust we’ve built with the parents, as well as the support of my family and colleagues.”

Ms Liaw and the other children in her class rallied online to cheer up the child who had been hospitalised. “We collated get-well-soon notes and videos, conducted video calls with her and sent a care package with items that would bring her joy and help her to pass time meaningfully,” she says.

When school reopened in June, Ms Liaw and her team had to help the children make sense of what was happening — such as the need for safe distancing from their friends and mask-wearing.

It was confusing, and sometimes frustrating, for the children at first. But ever the optimist, Ms Liaw acknowledges that getting the children familiar with life in the new normal has its own benefits, too.

“The children are able to apply what they have learnt about the different modes of communication and acquiring information during their home-based learning. This is an important quality of the 21st century learner, as they move from print to digitalisation,” she adds.