Time for School.

The kids are back to school (on site learning) in a few days. I am obviously anxious and apprehensive, but to be honest we do need to get back to regular programming.

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Schooling from home has been an interesting experience for us. I have enjoyed watching the kids adapt to distant learning quite fast, and impressed by how much effort the teachers are putting in to ensure that no child is left behind.

The kids’ school is not so big, which I think has made it a bit easier than most to adjust. I will not lie that there have been no challenges, but I will give credit where due; they have done an amazing job.

For one, I like that the children do not have to be online for long hours. School work is sent in advance on a weekly basis and the children have been able to work at their pace.

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On an average school day learning from home, the teachers hold a live online session with the children for about 30 minutes. This is great as the kids get to see their classmates, do their presentations if any, and interact with their teachers. This is usually at 9.00 am. After the live class, they can work as per their individual timetables on what needs to be done, with two breaks, just like in school- For snacks and a bit of play and a one hour lunch break. Afternoon sessions may include live class sessions that are usually half an hour or less. These are for the special classes; art, music, French computer and the like. The Physical education teacher also sends videos for their weekly movement activities.

What has impressed me the most is all they would do in school is included in the home learning program. The librarians have also been sending readings of great children’s books, and one can still access the library and borrow books on a weekly basis.

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I know we are privileged in this aspect, and we definitely do not take it for granted. A lot of children have missed out on formal learning. Some private schools have had to close as they could not survive financially in the pandemic. Now as schools reopen there are parents who have to search for new schools for their children. Schools that are struggling on how to maintain Covid 19 prevention protocols because they need to increase sanitation facilities, ensure there is running water, needing space to expand to accommodate increased social distance, desks, and the list goes on and on.

I also wonder how the children will re-adjust to face to face learning, after learning and adjusting to online lessons. Socialising in school will definitely change too. No more games lessons, clubs and sporting for now; it shall not be easy for them to get used to it.

I know the kids have missed playing so freely with others.
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Adapting is not easy. But we can do it. We have to remain resilient and optimistic and keep learning on how to live with the presence of the virus in our communities.

I ask myself this daily.
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Adaptation is essential to our existence as living things, and not only physiologically or physically but behaviourally too. The COVID- 19 pandemic has really uprooted us from our normal way of life. No warning, nothing to fall back on; we are having to adapt to this situation as it progresses.

Lives are being lost, health systems compromised, sources of income and economies have been affected negatively, education stalled and many other services disrupted too. How then do we adapt to this?

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We’ve been told: Wash hands, wear masks, sanitise, limit social interactions, enforce social distancing, all these are important but the disease is still spreading. With no vaccine and cure in sight for now; is this the new way to live for us?

Coronavirus has led to many working from home; how effective is this in the long term? How feasible is it to still meet targets as you run your household or rather your household runs around you? What about working hours? Is it still regular 8-5 when working from home? Already people are complaining about too many webinars and zoom meetings now that we can’t confer face to face. A new kind of fatigue is emerging.

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Food supply has been affected, there was a video of Idaho potatoes going to waste in mid west America some months ago. All that food rotting due to the break in supply chains. Borders are closed in some countries but even when open to cargo, there are long lines and delays due to testing of the drivers taking place at the borders. Imagine the trickle down effect of how long its taking some landlocked countries to get fuel, food, medicine and other supplies that get to them by road.

People are wary of going to the hospital for perceived ‘minor’ ailments and hospital staff are stretched to cope with the demand of Covid positive patients needing intensive care. Hospital workers are at risk and getting infected, even losing their lives as they care for coronavirus patients. The PPEs are either not enough or have disappeared mysteriously (read stolen) but you will see guys fleeing the country in full PPE gear; where did they get it from? I will not even mention the country this happened; we all know it.

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The pandemic has truly exposed once again the vast gap between the poor and the rich. Even though Covid- 19 is no respecter of economic class, some rich people have already built and installed ICU units in their homes; just in case they fall sick, no need to go to hospital as flying out for treatment is no longer an option. It’s ok to roll your eyes at this, I did too.

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Not all children have the luxury of attending school virtually aka Zoom classes. For the kids in public schools, it seems the year is going to be a lost one. There seems no indication of public schools opening too because how will they work around controlling the spread of Coronavirus among students and staff? How do you enforce social distance and wearing masks in those in lower grades for whom play is a language? How long do you think a pre schooler can keep a mask on before it becomes a plaything? And let’s not even get started on enforcing the washing hands/ sanitising rule in kids in Early Years who play and poke and touch and lick whatever is in sight.

We already know we need to adapt. The challenge is HOW?

On top of this, we still have other challenges to grapple with. Increased sexual violence, increased rates of domestic violence and underage pregnancies, increasing rates of insecurity. Globally, the Beirut Blast has brought an already crippled economy to its knees. The Black Lives Matter movement in the US, and some parts of the world is enlightening a lot of us to the ills in the perceived land of the free. In some African countries, talking (not even criticising, talking) about the government’s handling of the pandemic will earn you some nights in the cells. Yemen is on its deathbed as the world watches, the Uyghur Muslims are being exterminated for lack of a better word as we watch. So much is happening around watching news is so triggering!

What is the way forward for the world?

We are a resilient race however. And we should not forget that. One of the immense strengths humans have is the ability to adapt to circumstances as they arise. In the face of all these challenges, a lot more is happening. There are many efforts to seek a cure and vaccine for Coronavirus. Also many inventions coming up that are making life easier and more manageable. As parents we have become teachers for our kids which has brought us closer to them. Our schools and teachers have also had to adapt and come up with new ways of imparting knowledge to our children. The increased time at home with loved ones has immense psychological benefits for the young ones. Have fun with them, drawing family trees, cloudspotting, walks and games with them are more relaxed now and create unforgettable memories with them.

The internet is become more accessible to many, which heralds another information age. Though we still have a long way to go to connect the world. This may also be the biggest space exploration year yet, with the number of space missions happening this year.

Are these trying times? Yes. Is it all gloom and darkness though? I Don’t think so. I still and will always believe in our nature to adapt and emerge stronger in adversity. No matter how dire it gets, We will survive this. We just need to know HOW to adapt.

PS: This was inspired by an article a friend shared this morning, read and get inspired too as we learn how to adapt.