It’s back to school season and parents are busy resetting their children’s body clocks and reinforcing terms like ‘social distancing’ for the new academic term that begins on August 30.
With in-person classes resuming 175 days after they were suspended as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19, parents have a major decision to take: Should I send my child to school?
My six-year-old, wife, and I have never actually met the teacher who has been teaching ‘us’ for the last few months. Yes, ‘us’, for e-learning means we the parents are the unacknowledged additional students in the virtual classrooms that were set up across the country to ensure uninterrupted learning during the pandemic.
As we debated whether or not to send our son to school, we dialled his teacher for advice. The scales tilted in favour of sending him to class when the kindhearted teacher informed us that only three parents had signed up for in-person learning. Personalised learning, individual attention, a bond with the teacher, the pros were endless.
Having made our minds up, we dropped a thumbs up to the teacher about our son’s return to school. I scoured through the circulars sent by the school for safety tips and guidelines. That’s when I spotted the requirement that I had overlooked previously: To go back, my little one who can barely say ‘coronavirus’ had to take Covid-19 test to ensure he is infection-free. And just like that, we made our decision: Learning from the comfort of our home was the best option. “Think of the bond we have developed with our kid in the last few months,” I told my wife as I dropped a thumbs down to his teacher for in-class learning.
Also, the difficulty of ensuring he remains masked throughout the school day and stays calm enough to not hug his friends suddenly seemed very real.
Education authorities and schools have rolled out exhaustive safety measures to keep students and staff safe when campuses reopen. E-learning will continue to play a major role in imparting education. Parents who are not comfortable sending their children to campus have been given the option to continue virtual classes for their wards in the first term. Most schools will offer a blended model of learning – where students come to campus for a couple of days in a week and e-learn during the other days.
There is no one-model-fits-all. Educators and parents have been given the freedom to choose the model that works best for them. However, authorities are targeting a staggered, but full return to campus in the next few weeks.
We may be able to keep our kids at home temporarily, but as parents, we need to prepare them to reunite physically with their friends and teachers.
There are three golden rules that must be drilled into your kids’ belief system:
1. Mask is a superhero trait: Masked vigilantes have been swinging and flying their way to saving the world from the bad guys for a while now. Draw comparisons to explain how the use of mask by kids will save the world from the bad virus. Children above the age of six are required to wear masks at all times in school. Empathise when they complain to you that masks are uncomfortable. Explain to them that even adults find it uncomfortable, but those few hours of discomfort are for the larger good.
2. School’s wellbeing is in their hands: Teach them about hand hygiene and the right way to go about it. Help them understand that good hygiene will save their school, friends, the UAE, and the world from the invisible bad guy. Kids love being saviours.
3. No touch, good or bad: By now, you probably have taught your children about good touch and bad touch. Take it up a notch: No touch. Teach them not to have any physical interactions with their friends, teachers or staff or any of their things. Ensure your child has all the stationery he/she would need in class so there is no need to borrow it from friends.
Most importantly, practise what you teach: Wear masks, wash your hands frequently, and avoid gatherings. Practical lessons are indeed the most effective.