The word pandemic was not a part of my dictionary prior to January 2020, and now not a day goes by when I don’t use this word or think about it. It feels like our lives have changed forever with the virus not going away after almost a year. Looking at too many people in one place is alarming and, when you see few people, it makes you anxious, as if, you are committing a crime stepping out, while the saner minded are staying home and protecting themselves and their loves ones.
Covid19 has made many of us anxious, sad and at times depressed, but it has also shown us how agile and adaptable we are to new ways of life. The big black cloud of fear, hovering over our heads all the time, has shown us that we can do better in any given situation. We can transform our ways of living to make anything and everything work.
March 2020 will forever be known, in the education community, as the month when almost all the world’s school shut their doors. By the end of the month, 185 countries had closed, affecting 90 percent of the world’s students. The worst effected of the pandemic are our young ones; the curious minds that need outdoor activities, play time and friends, are now restricted to be around adults at home. It has been tough, we have all been through frustration, aggression, and a whole new rules and regulation of learning and parenting with our little ones. As teachers are scrambling to adapt content, for an online platform and, parents are juggling work responsibilities with taking care for children staying home at all time. Students themselves are faced with isolation, anxiety about a deadly virus and uncertainty about the future.
According to United Nations policy brief on Education during Covid19 and beyond(August2020). “The disruptions caused by COVID-19 to everyday life meant that as many as 40 million children worldwide have missed out on early childhood education in their critical pre-school year. They thus missed a stimulating and enriching environment, learning opportunities, social interaction and in some cases adequate nutrition. This is likely to compromise their longer-term healthy development, especially those children from poor and disadvantaged families”. The virus has definitely hit the education sector and learner in more ways than one can imagine. The researches currently going on will shed light in later years of how are young learners have been affected as the New York times call them “Covid Generation”
As a mother a year before I could have not imagine my son taking online classes, the five year old submitting work on google classroom and meeting his friends though a screen with tiny tinny boxes showing their faces. But with the given situation these online classes are the highlight of our day where the kids exchange their ideas, learning together and a sense of comfort that we are all in this together with work submissions the virtual classes are keeping our young ones busy, productive and sane during these challenging times.
We are definitely among the lucky ones as a teacher of year 3, 4 and 5, honestly I feel the learners have come a long way adapting to the new normal. The online classes giving us opportunity to make learning more affective by using more digital friendly tool and resources from showing them videos, pictures and playing online educational games to reinforce concepts explained in class has been helpful. With learner using google docs, google forms and teachers enhancing their learning experience by virtually taking them to the street of Paris to landforms around the world through google earth. It has been quite an experience for both the learners and teachers.
With all the benefits of online learning there are also concerns that the gap between high and low achieving students will becomes larger as to how things will be when students join back its quite uncertain. The challenges of online learning have no bounds in our part of the world where rain disrupts the electrical supply and the on going internet issues faced by everyone on daily basis. With teachers constantly reminding learners for muting their call, wearing headphones, raising your hand before speaking and to joining t he class on time. Online learning has been a roller-coaster ride with its share amount of highs and lows. However, teachers ensuring that the learner are interested in class and learning the complex concepts while sitting in the comfort of their home has been a mix bag of challenges and opportunity.
As we move to the hybrid system of learning now, where there will be physical classes and online learning on Friday its going to be an exciting journey. We at L’ecole are focusing on the guidelines provided by UNICEF to ensure the best set of precaution are being taken care of with the engagement of all our stakeholder teachers, learners and parents. The precautionary measures include a set of rules in these categories Physical distancing at schools, Health and hand hygiene, Mask wearing in school and Cleaning and disinfecting. I hope together we can create a safer environment for our learner and staff at school. I can’t wait to welcome our learners!
Written By – Anum Malik Peracha