‘As Schools Reopen, Teachers Are Happy But Also Scared’

Nisha Prasad, a teacher at St. John’s School in Gr Noida West, says the return to physical schooling is full of challenges for both students and teachers

When after two years, we returned to ‘normal’ schooling, the classrooms were adorned with posters, balloons and flowers. It was surely a welcome change as students trickled into classrooms after studying online for two academic years. However for parents and teachers it’s a mixed bag of emotions of cheer, relief and fear.

School teachers have done admirable work during the pandemic: adapting to online teaching; learning how to use software tools; finding new ways of teaching students; coping up with the changes in the exam pattern; presenting teaching materials and simultaneously managing their families at home. Yet, most teachers faced a 25 percent deduction (in some cases, more) in salary during Covid times.

Covid-19 did scare the hell out of us. All the time I worked during the surge, I was scared of getting sick myself and scared of bringing the virus home to my family. It was thus not without a sense of fear that we returned to physical classrooms a few weeks back.

In the ‘new normal’, the schooling has changed a lot. Children too are getting re-integrated into the system. Most children think ‘it’s a relief to be back in school’ instead of interacting with teachers and classmates through a screen. However, everyone is worried about a resurgence also.

Prasad feels children will need some time to readust into ‘new normal’

For the teachers, the challenges with regards to getting children back to physical schooling are endless. Post-pandemic students do not like being in school for long hours; handwriting and written work have taken a backseat; students are comfortable sitting alone rather than making friends; outdoor activities and physical games do not excite them; their sleeping, studying, eating, interacting patterns have changed; making the usual teaching and learning style are a little difficult to maintain.

ALSO READ: ‘School Environment Provides Holistic Learning’

I guess we should give children some time to adjust and let them be. Keeping students calm and helping them ease back into the everyday routine is key at this point.

Students who come from the families of low income groups were the most affected by school closure as many of them did not have access to devices for attending online classes. However, they are also struggling with the transition back to the classroom.

Their challenges are different and in some cases more serious. Many lost their jobs during the pandemic. It is traumatic for their children to think about stationery or uniform expenses. This is not something that students should be bothered about. There is a drastic number of dropouts too in case of female children as these parents need more helping hands at home and can’t afford education at this cost.

Thankfully, the school management is taking all necessary precautions. Yet, if you notice, the cases in schools are rising once again. We are seeing an average of 65 percent attendance in classrooms from the past two weeks. As of now any student showing symptoms of cough, cold or fever is asked to refrain from physically coming to school. We as teachers are really worried and scared for our students. Many teachers are ready to quit rather than putting their lives at risk.

However, it appears that the dilemma among school, teachers, parents and the governments is likely to continue until the world sees a way out of the impasse, which could only be through the much-awaited vaccine for across all age groups.

As told to Deepti Sharma

‘My Sons Look Forward To Re-join School But I’m A Bit Tense’

Rakhi Singh, a Delhi-NCR blogger, says being cooped up at home impacts emotional growth of school children and virtual learning can never replace the real

As schools are set to reopen, the troika of students, teachers and parents are about to undergo a transition all over again. Perhaps the shift, the adjustments are going to be similar to the ones we made for online classes at the beginning of the pandemic. Our daily routines will undergo major changes all over again. My two sons, aged 8 and 16, are students of the DLF Public School in Ghaziabad and are looking forward to the reopening of their schools after studying at home for nearly one and a half years.

It would have been reassuring if the government had rather worked on vaccinating the children before going ahead with the decision. I still feel a little scared about sending them to school. We could have waited for three-four months more… at least we would be past the predicted third Covid wave.

Many parents say that kids’ education has been hampered all the while the schools were closed, but I differ. I believe education has been fine; it is the emotional growth of children that has been impacted while they stayed cooped up at home. In schools, children are exposed to varied kinds of emotions, they understand that the same problem can be approached by different people in different manners and their eyes aren’t permanently glued to a screen.

My elder son saw some of his close friends lose either one or both parents to Covid and even though he has been very supportive of his friends, he wants to be there for them every day. This can only happen in a physical school environment.

Rakhi Singh feels it would have been better if the government had waited for a few more months and initiated vaccination for adolescents

While my elder son has grown up emotionally/socially, I feel my younger son has grown up practically amid this situation. Online classes meant he became more self-sufficient at doing classwork, uploading it and being more interactive with other classmates and teachers. I hope the efficiency in tasks spills over to his time in school too.

Both my husband and I contracted Covid during the second wave. And I saw how my sons managed their classes on their own with the support of their teachers, leaving me proud. So I feel once the schools reopen, they will be in a better position to be able to understand and love and respect their teachers better as well. The cohesion, the teamwork between parents, teachers and students is here to stay.

ALSO READ: ‘Won’t Send My Son To School Till He Is Vaccinated’

The most important thing children were losing out on while the schools were closed, was on making new memories. I still remember my school days clearly and most of my emotional bonds are with friends from school time. I want my sons to know that memories are the cushions that support us when we get busy with life as we grow up.

Virtual life can never compare to the real. My elder son scored 96.4% in his Class 10 exams but wasn’t satisfied with the assessment procedure. They feel their achievements to be more solid and the assessment to be fairer in classrooms and campus environment than in online. So I really hope that both the young men feel more free and clear about their own thoughts, opinions and perspectives once they go to school.

During the first wave they watched a lot of news and were struck with the uncertainty of life. But they also saw how strangers can come together to help each other and bring a tiny amount of certainty, a sense of community and togetherness. I am sure once the schools reopen, children will be able to understand both themselves and others better.

‘Won’t Send My Child To School Till He Is Fully Vaccinated’

Anita Jha (39) did not send her 15-year-old son, studying is Class 10, to his school in Faridabad when it reopened after a gap of several months. She narrates the reasons behind her decision

On August 1, 2021 we received a communication from my son’s school that they were planning to reopen and asked us to convey if we would be willing to send our ward to the school. The notice also mentioned that the offline and online classes will continue simultaneously, and parent were free to choose any option.

I decided NOT to send my son to school.

The reason is simple: Saket, my son, is not vaccinated. I know virology experts say that even after vaccination, an infection may occur and we need to follow same prescribed precautions as earlier. However, the inoculation does provide the body a better ability to fight and defeat Covid-19 infection. And therefore a jab would have given us some assurance of our child’s safety.

Having stated my reasons, I fully support the government decision to reopen schools. Nothing can compensate a physical classroom when it comes to inclusive learning. But, till the time Saket is fully vaccinated I don’t want to take any risk. Some of my friends have chosen otherwise. In my son’s class of 37 students, about one fourth have chosen to attend the school. To each its own; let this be a personal choice for every parent.

Some people may argue that if parents can take their children to shopping malls, outdoor parks and other public spaces, what is the harm in sending them to a school. My counter to them is: in all such cases, the children are under direct supervision of the parents while at school, the children, either carelessly or under peer pressure, may throw caution to the wind.

Anita Jha says her son Saket improved his grades while attending online classes

This is what happened when the schools reopened last time. Infections soared and the government had to hastily retract their decision. We should have learnt our lessons from that.

I do not doubt the preparedness of the school. Over the last few months, my son went to school for collection of some study material and he told me that proper social distancing was being maintained and in one class they were asked to sit leaving two benches in between. And since only class 9-12 are called, social distancing norms are easily maintained.

ALSO READ: Online Classes Drain The Parents Completely

However, how does one keep a watch on the kids all the time? Even if a few children follow Covid-19 protocol, they cannot enforce similar pandemic-appropriate behavior on others in the absence of the teacher. We all know how teenagers are.

Besides, thanks to our access to high-speed Internet and other gadgets, I didn’t see any challenges in my son’s academic performance during online classes. In fact, there is now some self-discipline and improvement in his grades. If the purpose is taken care of by online class then why rush with offline learning in these uncertain times! Why can’t we wait till the vaccination of children is also complete?

It is not only about maintaining precautions in school premises. Not every family can afford a personal vehicle to pick and drop the child from school and hence they have to end up taking a shared or public transport. This increases the risk manifold.

Already, there have been talks of a looming third wave and new variants of the virus that may infect young children too. That worries me. Of course, if the government makes attending schools mandatory, we would have no choice. But I sincerely hope that we make quick progress on vaccination of adolescents and only after that think of reopening schools.

As Told To Mamta Sharma

Online Learning Has Failed Education For All

From primary to university level, students all over India are getting lessons online since March 2020 in the wake of the first wave of Covid-19 related pandemic. In order to contain the spread of the killer virus and protect the health of students and teachers, all state governments and administrations of Union Territories had to shut down educational institutions. In online classes an alternative has been found, whatever that is worth to the indefinite suspension of teacher-student meeting in the confines of classroom. The community of teachers, students and their guardians are all in agreement that online classes even for students from well-to-do families with the best of required gadgets at their disposal are no substitute for time tested physical classes held within four walls that allow teachers to understand how well the lessons are received by students.

More importantly, what is missed out at all levels, particularly at graduate and post-graduate classes, is the interaction between students and teachers that is possible only when they are physically present in one place. At post-graduate level, students will always have occasions to call on professors after the class for discussions and guidance. Such interaction is de rigueur for students pursuing MPhil and PhD.

The inevitable result of the pandemic forced absence of students and teachers from schools, colleges and universities is the piling of countrywide deficit in education, which remains to be assessed. The situation is now so desperate that in many cities, students and teachers are holding regular peaceful demonstrations in front of closed institutions such as Presidency College and the next door Calcutta University for quick resumption of classes.

Going a step beyond, the benevolent teachers in the two iconic institutions and also in several other cities are holding classes out in the open next to college and varsity campuses. In a growing number of places, teachers concerned about the welfare of students are holding informal classes for them. Devi Kar, director of Kolkata’s prestigious Modern High School, wonders when from shopping malls to theatres have reopened with safety protocols in place, why shouldn’t students be allowed to go back to class? She thinks it’s time educational institutions had reopened.

Many teachers have started classes in the open for students

Speaking about children from poor families, Devi Kar says: “There are students who are not equipped with the right devices and also those who don’t have the proper home environment for online classes. These students have been suffering a lot. All I can say is that nothing can replace a class where the teacher and the student can communicate face to face. The government and parents have to decide on this, but we are ready to welcome our children back.” She may be in Kolkata, but what she says is the representative voice of concerned teachers and school administrators all over the country.

ALSO WATCH: ‘Online Classes Are Temporary Solution’

Leave out the tier one and tier two cities, vast swathes of the country have poor mobile network coverage. Connections are available in fits and starts. Even if the underprivileged parents somehow manage to buy smart phones and pay for internet connection, the poor infrastructure will invariably play spoilsport. In multitude of families in the country, the children happen to be the first generation to go to school. They need hand-holding at every stage of learning.

During shutdown of schools, the parents with very little or no education cannot stand for the offspring’s teachers at home. As a result, whether they have smart phones or not, the majority of children from economically distressed families are making hardly any gains from online classes. In an article in the largely circulated Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika, Nobel prize winner economist Abhijit V. Banerjee who heads West Bengal government’s global advisory board writes, because of the long closure of schools, a large number of students are totally cut off from studies. Not only that, whatever they had learnt in pre-Covid days they had forgotten by now. A challenge for teachers on primary school reopening then will be to make an assessment of reading and writing capacity of students. On that basis the teachers will be required to bring up the learning capacity of students in alignment with classes they sit.

The Covid-19 in its two waves has had a devastating nationwide effect on jobs and income. A report by International Labour Organisation says the health crisis has not only wiped out millions of jobs in Asia and the Pacific but there is also a major surge in underemployment as workers are asked to work “reduced hours or no hours at all.” As for India, a survey based report says that a major percentage of people who lost their jobs in the first wave that lasted beyond April 2020 are yet to find gainful employment.

In their report ‘City of dreams no more, a year on: Worklessness and active labour market policies in urban India’, Swati Dhingra and Fjolla Kondirolli say: “Unemployment spells are, on average, almost half a year for unemployed individuals. Employed individuals are working on average six hours less than their usual weekly hours, and the share of them with work for the full year has halved since the previous year.” Many of those who could not find a job and also those whose income has shrunk considerably have been forced by circumstances to withdraw their children from schools.

ALSO READ: Online Learning – A Distant Dream For Poor

In the process, thousands of dreams are dying young. As this happened with 12-year old Nand Kishore whose father Ashwini Yadav from Bihar working with a spices trade agency in Kolkata’s first lost his job in April 2020 and then reemployed with a deep cut in wages. He had to withdraw his son from a primary school in Kolkata and sent him back to his village. Thousands of children all over the country had the same experience as Nand Kishore.

Banerjee says whenever the schools reopen with health safety protocol in place, the principal task of all concerned will be get “one hundred per cent” children back to school. He wonders how about local governments write and broadcast a slogan that will lead to the return of children who since March 2020 strayed into any kind of work in farms, factories and markets to class once again. That this will not be an easy task Banerjee acknowledges.

In the extremely trying times of the pandemic, countless families have lost income. Is there an alternative to mothers not taking their daughters with them to do work in neighbourhood households or boys helping their fathers in running small shops or just going to distant places to find work when survival of families is at stake? Whatever the challenge, the disturbingly high rate of school dropout of children among poor families during the pandemic needs to be corrected for the sake of the nation’s future as soon as the health situation permits.

From Tamil Nadu in the south to West Bengal in the east, the states are waiting for the right moment for reopening of educational institutions. But on government directive schools all over Odisha have started reopening. Delhi Disaster Management Authority has allowed schools to start physical classes for students of class X and class XII but in a staggered manner.

Students whose families have weathered the Covid-19 created economic crisis will make good the learning deficit with help from teachers, private tuition and parents. But Banerjee’s concern is about the children who had to quit schools in large numbers in unfortunate circumstances. He is urging the states, NGOs and civil society not to forget the dropouts. “In case we are overtaken by the feeling that during difficult times of the pandemic, school dropouts will be inevitable, then that will prove to be disastrous for the children and for the country. There must not be any compromise in our commitment to bring all such students back to school. In the country’s fight against poverty, there has to be an unstinting commitment to enrol in schools all the ones who dropped out during the pandemic.” The children must be in school at all cost and not to be seen working in fields and factories, that is a blot on civilisation.  

‘My Child Is In Class 2; She Is Yet To See Her School’

Banti Kumari, 32, a homemaker in Ranchi, finds it bizarre that one full academic year has gone for her daughter but she is yet to know what primary school building or a classroom looks like

These are strange times! Because of the virus we are getting used to a life we had never imagined. My eight-year-old daughter Akshita Arya will remember her unusual educational history for sure. A student of Class II at Saint Michael’s, she has never seen her primary school building for a single day. And most probably she never will. Actually the different wings of Saint Michael’s are situated at different locations in Ranchi. So, for her pre-primary she went to one location and for her primary yet another (the current location). And once she passes Class 2, they will be moved to yet another building at a new location.

I feel sad that her foundational years of education are so wobbly; that there is so much confusion and no solution to the Covid crisis in sight. One year and people would have still managed, but two years of this is perhaps a lot.

Last year, after the pandemic was declared, the admission process took a lot of time as everyone was scrambling to put systems in place and make sense of the pandemic. Online classes started in earnest only in May, 2020. The interaction between parents and teachers has gone down drastically.

Earlier, we used to have parent-teacher meetings (PTMs) every month, but now at the most we call teachers for a few minutes if we have any query. I also miss the fact that my child used to feel like part of a huge, diverse team in school and her worldview was getting broader day by day, but now she is just confined to the house. They can’t even go and play outside.

Kumari rues that her daughter Akshita Arya (left) has not witnessed any extra-curricular school activity

Extra curricular activities at school would teach them that there is a world beyond books or in other words that learning in greater books, and we haven’t been able to compensate for that at home or in online classes.

I also miss her Physical Education (PE) Classes. She, like most kids, is a bundle of energy but during perpetually stretching lockdowns, her energy has been confined to the 4 walls of the house. Plus, she used to actively participate in her Annual Day and other important functions. The preparation process, the co-ordinating and bonding with others, gave her memories and a wonderful sense of identity. But for the past two years she hasn’t had any new memories. The virus has taken away two precious years of childhood memories.

ALSO READ: ‘Cancellation Of Board Exams Is A Relief’

I doubt the schools will reopen for kids this year, especially for kids as young as mine. So most probably she will see the face of her school building now only in Class 3. One of the things I used to love the most about her school was that they used to give these home link assignments (basically general knowledge assignments) that we as a family used to help her fill. Helping her prepare for her functions, assignments etc. used to be golden bonding time for us as a family, but the pandemic has changed everything.

From the school being a second home, the home has become the school and all lines have become blurred. However, I hope the air clears soon and we can go back to pre-corona times. My daughter keeps asking me: “Mumma ye corona kab khatm hoga? Main fir se kab school jaungi, kab apne friends se milungi?” I want to be able to give an answer to that to my daughter.

As Told To Yog Maya Singh

‘Delay In Holding Board Exams Was Getting On My Nerves’

Supriya Rani, a Class 12 student from Deoghar, Jharkhand, recounts the mental trauma of a child waiting endlessly for her examinations amid the pandemic

I had never thought my first few steps into the grown-up world would be so shaky. I had so many dreams and plans for my Class 12 stint, the last year in school before we joined a university. But coronavirus turned everything upside down. I didn’t get to make new friends, nor could I interact with our teachers in person. Unlike in many schools with Plus 2 provision where the student-teacher bonding has existed for years, and the teacher knows each student’s weaknesses and strengths, we felt stranded.

We were still somehow trudging along, but the persistent delay in holding of Class 12 exams is now beginning to get on my nerves. Just how many times can we study the same things over and over again? You know, you kind of lose vigilance and focus if you are always prepared but the event you are prepared for doesn’t happen. I haven’t seen the face of my college building since the end of my Class 11 term, except for a few days in between when we went to complete the official paperwork for our Board exams.

Online classes weren’t held for us because not everyone has access to smartphones in smaller towns. We were sent study links over WhatsApp groups and that was about it. No Zoom Classes, no video calls. It was my tuition classes that took place in my own street that turned out to be a saviour for me. A batch of 15 students was allowed at a time and we would follow all social distancing measures as well as hygiene practices.

ALSO READ: ‘IPL, Polls Can Be Held, So Why Not Exams?’

Any time someone fell ill due to corona or any other reason, the classes would be called off and Sir would take online classes through video calls. I didn’t want to take up Engineering so I didn’t have to deal with competitive exams being continuously delayed. I want to either do Maths or English Honours for my graduation, given that I love both the subjects so much.

I am not a group study kind of person, but it would have been nice to have at least one friend study with me, so that we could exchange notes and also unwind with each other during breaks. I would have loved to be able to go out during breaks and meet my friends. Seeing your friends over video calls isn’t the same thing as seeing them in person.

Supriya wishes the pandemic to end soon

My parents and two elder brothers have been keeping me motivated and have told me to hold fort for some time, for surely a solution will come up in time. Both my brothers are quite elder to me and have told me I can approach them anytime with either my study-related queries or future-related queries. They say it is equally important to take care of my health and to have a little fun to keep myself energised. I take one hour long walks on the terrace to relax and also help my family with household chores sometimes.

I had plans to go and study in a bigger city, but now with the pall of Covid looming large over us, staying alone in another city for kids just on the brink of adulthood is no more an easy option. Deoghar is relatively a medium-level town and I wonder how the schoolkids have been impacted in rural areas.

Online exams can only be conducted in large cities and not in areas with erractive net connectivity, so that doesn’t seem like a possibility. And what if someone gets infected during the exam dates. Do they lose a whole year for no fault of theirs? I think among all age groups, those of us on the brink of adulthood are the most affected. We can’t even get vaccinated because we aren’t 18 yet. We will need extra support from future institutions of study and workplaces if our generation is to stand strong. May this pandemic get over soon.

Note: The board exams were cancelled by the Central government soon after this Lok Story was published

As told to Yog Maya Singh

‘Mela, IPL, Rallies Can Be Held… Why Not Exams?’

Bengaluru-based Class 12 student Navya Deepesh Govil feels disappointed at the postponing of Class XII examinations and she lists out hers reasons for it

I am a student of Class 12 currently preparing for Board exams and other competitive exams. The central government has cancelled Class 10 Board exams and postponed Class 12 exams due to the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases across India. As a student, I am not happy with the decision having prepared so hard for the whole year.

Just look at the prejudiced decision of our government. Bars, restaurants, cinema halls and other public places are all open with 50% capacity. The political leaders are holding multiple rallies in election states. Thousands of people are gathering in the Kumbh Mela, refusing to get tested or wear face-masks or follow social distancing; they are all one over another. The Indian Premier League matches are being held.

ALSO READ: ‘Happy To Be Back In School After Long Wait’

I want to ask my leaders if Mela, public meetings and cricket matches can be held, then why school exams can’t be conducted with due precautionary measures in place! Clearly, election speeches, sport events and mass festivals are more important for this government than education. If it were not so, we would be taking our exams as scheduled, with heavier restrictions on public gatherings, and strict safeguards at examination halls. No?

Considering the severity of the situation, it is fair enough for many students and parents to feel at risk of the coronavirus. However, I feel the Board exams should not have been postponed and if at all the situation worsens, the Central Board should either cancel it for good or hold them online.

I understand that holding the exams online would not be the best option considering the cheating that could take place (which would be unfair to students who have genuinely prepared for these exams) and also due to the level of internet access in our country.

ALSO READ: Online Learning Remains A Distant Dream

But the decision to postpone these exams will only leave us hanging and increase anxiety among young students about their future. Postponing Board exams also means putting off other competitive exams that are scheduled to be held in the month of June. And for how long can the whole academic year be pushed down again and again?

We can have each school hold the exams for their students on their campus. That way for one exam there wouldn’t be more than 30-40 students appearing, and can be spread across different classrooms. As a CBSE official recently said that examination centres for board exams 2021 have been increased by 40% to 50%. They might as well hold them in all schools as we did for our board practical exams and viva. With careful planning, we can even start vaccination for students at the earliest. At the examination hall, social distancing, masks and shields can be made be mandatory.

As Told To Mamta Sharma

‘It Was A Long Wait; Happy To Be Back In School’

Agamjot Singh, a Class 8 student of Ekam Public School in Mehatpur, Punjab, says he is happy to be back in a normal classroom as it allows him to interact with his friends and teachers in person

I am a student of Ekam Public School studying in Class 8. For nearly a year since the lockdown was announced in March 2020, our schools remained closed. Even though students from Class 9 to 12 were allowed to attend regular classes on school premises for the past one month, the rest of us were attending online classes.

So I am very happy and excited to be re-joining school. In fact I was eagerly waiting for the school to reopen. Not only do we learn better in the school environment, the constant interaction with friends keeps us happy. While attending online classes, the level of interaction wasn’t the same. Our teachers also seem very happy to have us back.

My class has a total strength of 43 students but on the first day of reopening, only 22 students, i.e. about half the students were present. The school had sent out a directive that any student feeling even slightly unwell should not attend school.

ALSO READ: ‘Online Classes Drain The Parents’

However, there were restrictions and safety protocol for the students who were attending school. We weren’t allowed to go to the cafeteria (it was closed) or even use the playground. The school authorities took great care to sanitize the premises regularly. Even though our temperature-screening were not done on entering school, a strict regime was followed to ensure that everyone was wearing masks and sanitizing their hands regularly. The washrooms were also very clean.

Singh is well aware of Covid-19 safety protocols

I take a school bus to reach school and it was also in a spick and span condition. And everyone took care and personal responsibility to keep it clean.

I wasn’t scared at all to be attending school and neither were my parents. And now that the vaccination process is about to start, whatever little fear we might have had has also vanished. In fact, my father himself had contracted coronavirus a few months ago and now we are very aware of the symptoms, the correct steps and precautions to take.

Even though we children love screen time and are quite technically aware and adept at handling gadgets and newer apps, yet I believe nothing can replace the charm and ease of normal classroom learning. We are young so it doesn’t affect our eyes if they are glued to the screen or have earphones plugged in for long hours, but with increased study load as we advance to senior classes, book learning is better for our health.

‘Online Classes Completely Drain The Parents’

Roma Aggarwal, 37, says online schooling is tiresome for parents who have to juggle among domestic chores, office work and children’s assignments. She prays for the pandemic to end and schools to reopen

Online classes aren’t really my cup of tea. I love the idea of children being formally educated inside the school premises with real-time interactions between teachers and students as well as among themselves. Education is not only about the stuff we are taught, it is also about the social skills we learn, how we understand non-verbal cues from other people and how we learn to carve our own space in the sea of people. But it is what it is!

The pandemic hasn’t relented for so many months now and I wonder when my two daughters will be able to go back to school. My younger daughter, aged three, was supposed to start school formally this year, but then things changed drastically. My elder daughter is in Class IV and she misses her school a lot.

I have had to change and update gadgets continuously to enhance the quality of the online interaction. As an urban family, we have access to smartphones, laptop etc. which we share on priority basis, and still online classes aren’t an easy navigation. So, I wonder about those families who may have to share gadgets, like one phone between two siblings.

ALSO READ: ‘Online Classes, PUBG, Web Series… Lockdown Is Fun’

It is difficult for the young children to make such huge changes in lifestyle. My elder one generally oscillates between her iPad and her laptop for her studies, but there are days when she complains of sore eyes and mild headaches because of the intense focus she has to keep on the electronic mediums. So I have also now started connecting the laptop (net book) to the TV. And since my younger one accesses her classes on my phone, it means I neither get the TV, nor the phone to unwind after a hard day’s work.

Whatever free time I get is spent in helping my elder daughter with her assignments. I am a housewife but there is so much online involvement with my elder daughter that I feel like I have joined a fully functioning office. We as parents have to help our kids with conducting their lab experiments, then with their homework across subjects and multiple assignments. Plus there are also their various online tests.

Then there are video and photo uploads to be done. My elder daughter starts her classes around 8.20 am and one class goes on for 40 minutes. And I have to be alert along with her. My younger one’s classes start much later and she has also been complaining about her eyes watering during the classes. Since ages we have told kids to use the screen less or sit far away from the screen so that it doesn’t impact their eyes. But now the screens have become unavoidable. Continuous and long use of ear phones might also hamper the children’s sensitive ears, so I don’t allow them to use earphones for online classes.

WATCH: ‘Online Classes Are Only A Temporary Option’

My house is right now divided into water-tight zones. One room has been taken up by my husband, where he dedicatedly does his work as an IT Professional. Another room has been assigned to my daughter in which she can attend her classes undisturbed by any outside sound or noise. My younger daughter and I have taken over the living room. She gets easily restless during the classes and I have to then help her soothe.

I sincerely hope the schools open soon and we go back to the pre-pandemic world. Till now there are no updates as to when schools would open in Chennai. Since there is not much physical activity during online classes, the kids don’t expend much energy and they eat fewer times saying they don’t feel hungry and the portions have also been getting smaller. In this pandemic they can’t even go out for physical activities, which is not good for their health.

Watch – ‘No Smartphone, No Classes, Kids Play All Day’

LokMarg brings you a ground report from rural India, where in the absence of smartphones and computers, school children are unable to study amid Covid-19.

Our reporter Praveen Sharma visits rural households in Uttar Pradesh to find that a majority of students are unable to take advantage of online classes. Parents say they can ill-afford expensive phones or data. Result is most school children now idle away their time playing or running errands.

School teachers list out state government measures for distance learning as schools are yet to reopen. But poor households are unable to take their benefit. They are only waiting for the schools to reopen. Watch: