Lockdown diaries : The Tribune India

With the country limping back to normalcy and beginning its Unlock Phase 1, the reopening of schools and educational institutions will require greater attention in the coming weeks. Thus, now the questions of if, when and how to reopen schools can no longer be put on the back burner. The School Tribune brings the thoughts of young minds before you. Read on to get the students perspective on schools in post-Covid era:

Adopt weekly rotation system for pupils

Anshika Yadav, Class XI, Army Public School, Patiala

As the supposedly ‘early’ summer vacations are underway, the government is taking this opportunity to make leeway in the obvious proverbial tower of Babel, a situation involving the future of over 315 million students, who have been affected by the ongoing crisis. While the Ministry of Human Resource Development is still acclimating in lieu to the latest CDC guidelines, certain announcements related to pending exams have already been made.

However, unlike the UK where the government is encouraging schools to call back students or Spain where schools have been unanimously shut down till September, India is yet to make a long term call on the situation, bringing forth one question from the society: Will Indians choose education over health or can we find a way to impart quality knowledge to the future of our country??

While some people may point out that the pandemic has led to online classes, high-tech teaching and webinars (which in itself is a huge step for a country where most people in the IT sector prefer working abroad), it must be duly noted that this has already caused a huge setback to the poorer section of society where children who do not have access to these resources are falling behind in their curriculum.

Online teaching may seem like a viable option now, but in all honesty, the Indian government just isn’t ready to provide the necessary equipment along with high speed Wifi connection to the poorer section, thus leading to a broad bifurcation in the mindsets of students in the future.

Another argument which can be presented by some like minded citizens would be reopening schools but also practising social distancing, which in my opinion may not play out exactly as planned due to the various unaccountable variables (personal hygiene, lack of maturity towards the situation etc) in the equation. Take into consideration the fact that teachers may have to maintain sanitized conditions at regular intervals, it would simply be a waste of time.

A possible long-term solution to the current conundrum could be opening schools but at the same time, undergoing some minor tweaks in the outlay. A perfect coalescence of the two above mentioned flawed paths of actions would be the right way to navigate through these tumultuous times. Schools can adopt a weekly day rotation system where each standard gets allotted a particular day in a way to pick up their assignments and clear their doubts whereas teachers can continue teaching online. The government should also try to ensure that government schools are checked regularly for adheration of CDC hygiene guidelines.

Although this may seem a bit problematic, it provides a perfect balance in the long run making sure that no one gets left behind, afterall the philosphy of a school room in one generation will be the philosphy of government in the next.

Take precautions, reopen schools

Meghal Singla, Class IX, Ashiana Public School Chandigarh

Students, detesting schools and studies are a common phenomenon world over. Children do not like going to school and hate homework. But what if schools are closed for long?

The present situation has led to closure of offices, shops, markets, schools and colleges. It has been more than two months since schools are shut. Although online classes are held on a daily basis, there is something missing that only children can feel. Students have fun in school with their classmates, they enjoy chatting with them. Also, there is an excitement of participating in different activities and competitions.

During online classes, students are confined to attending classes from home. The excitement and enjoyment of attending regular school is missing. Being a student, I feel that schools should reopen as going to school is valuable. Of course, school, teachers, children and parents will have to take care of precautionary measures.

Schools may have to call students on odd-even basis to maintain social distancing. Parents will have to ensure that their child wears masks, gloves and keeps a bottle of sanitizer. Students will have to refrain from shaking hands with each other. Teachers will have to be particular about social distancing. In my opinion, if all these steps are successfully carried out, schools can reopen safely.

Need an efficient system before opening schools

Suhel Singh Randhawa, Class XII, Yadavindra Public School, Mohali

The COVID-19 pandemic, which started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, has quickly spread to nearly all the countries of the world. This highly infectious disease has forced humanity indoors, and has changed our lifestyles in just 6 months. All educational institutions, malls, and many markets have been indefinitely closed to control this virus’s spread.

The most profound impact of this pandemic, has been on education. We have used the internet, our mobile phones, and our computers as a means of learning. Video conferencing services like Zoom and Google Meet are used to conduct classes and software like Google Classroom is used for submitting and assigning work.

The lockdowns and policies that were put in place by the governments of various countries, have greatly flattened the COVID-19 curve, and have controlled the spread of the virus in countries like New Zealand, Italy, Spain, etc. As the spread of the virus slows down, the leaders plan on reopening the schools.

As a generation of young adults who love to socialise, we are missing school. We miss meeting our friends, the sports lessons, the extra-curricular activities, the breaks, and our classrooms. Though online classes do facilitate learning, they aren’t as efficient as learning in a classroom. Students of Class XII feel the worst as they aren’t able to enjoy the last year of their school lives.

Though we miss our school, we must understand that the reopening of schools poses a great risk to the lives of the students, the teachers, the staff, and their family members. Countries like France and Germany, which reopened their schools after months, saw scores of new cases within a few days of the reopening.

We must understand that education is important, but not as important as a student’s health. Reopening schools to facilitate a student’s better learning poses a risk to his and his family’s life.

Schools shouldn’t be reopened unless there is an efficient system put in place to ensure the safety of all those present on the school premises. According to me, a system must be devised in which half of the school’s total students and teachers attend the school on one day, and the other half, the next day. Those who stay at home can study in online classes. This will not only facilitate in learning, but will also reduce contact, and will also provide for social distancing.

In these trying times, we must prioritise our health. Even though staying at home isn’t fun, we must do so, to protect us and our families. Reopening of schools must be postponed until a policy for students’ and teachers’ safety is put in place. Until then, we must stay home, practice social distancing, stay healthy and work towards our goals.

Classrooms teach real essence of learning

Bhavya Gulati, Class XII, Bhavan Vidyalaya, Panchkula

Honestly, lockdown was just a simple word for me till I experienced it myself. Nobody had been in such situation till now but lockdown has taught us a lot. One thing that everyone has learnt in this lockdown is the efficient use of technology and this work from home theory. Especially, virtual learning has been a good substitute and we should not deny the fact that teachers and students have given their best in this tough time.

But now, schools should be reopened because I believe classroom learning helps in better understanding of concepts. Although it was a good initiative by the school authorities to start virtual classes, we cannot simply rely on them for the entire session. Classrooms teach us the real essence of learning. Virtual classes require a fast internet connection, but everyone does not have access to it and there are chances that many might have missed many important lectures too.

Also, it has been causing eyesight problems and headache because students are continuously using mobile, laptop screens for studies. I want schools to reopen but with full precautions, including sanitisation of premises. Moreover, all students should not be called on the same day. The authorities should call half students on one day and the other half the next day to maintain social distancing. Junior students (till Class V) should be asked to stay at home because it might get difficult to handle them.

We all are desperate to return to school. We just can’t sit at home as it is quite difficult to cover the entire syllabus through digital mode of learning and being a Board class student, I can feel the need to get into classrooms as soon as possible.

Just a bad phase, not bad life

Tanveer Kaur, Guru Nanak International Public School, Model Town, Ludhiana

A school is a place where a student spends a major part of his life and his best reminiscences belong there. It’s a temple of knowledge which provides pupils with the opportunity for their holistic growth and overall development. It also becomes instrumental in letting them meet and make their friends who help them to lead a pleasing and cheerful life. They learn, play, create memories and live everyday to the fullest.

All in all, a school chisels the life of the young torchbearers. The novel coronavirus has brought everyone’s life to a standstill. Hence, learners have been restrained from going to their beloved schools.

But to overcome the gap, the schools authorities and teachers are working efficaciously so that the students do not suffer during this pandemic.

The school buildings are closed but the sources of learning have found many ways to reach the young scholars. The teachers have shifted online and are providing education through the available platform. Although, it is hard for all students and teachers to adapt to a completely new system suddenly, but their determination and strenuous efforts would surely let them sail safely through these rough times.

Indubitably, many students are feeling school sick but the decision of reopening the schools rests in the hands of the authorities. According to the present scenario when this pandemic is on rise, it is unsafe for students to go to schools. Children are more prone to this contagious virus and need to take even more precautions to fight the virus.

The opening of schools in Israel led to the spread of coronavirus. As many as 13,000 persons have been isolated and 304 cases have been confirmed positive. Also, 130 cases have been found in a single school. In France, 70 schools were closed because of a sudden escalation in OVID-19 cases after reopening them for a few weeks. Taking this into consideration, all the nations should retain a sense of stoicism to wait for the right time to reopen the schools as the need of the hour is to respect social distancing which is very difficult in schools.

To clinch it all, the school authorities, parents and students should remain patient for some more time and cooperate with each other in this hour of crisis. In this era of technology, everyone has mobile phones and other gadgets which are being used to stay connected. These should also be used in the time to come so that learning of the pupils should not come to a halt and online classes should continue to impart knowledge to the learners. It’s just a bad phase, not a bad life. It is high time that each individual should join hands and ponder over the thought that he can’t change the direction of winds, but he can adjust the sails to reach his destination. So students should stay safe at home and enjoy their virtual classes.

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