‘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.

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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