The kids have closed for the December holidays after two or so months of on site learning.
It has not been easy keeping in mind the risks involved, but we thank God there was no Covid 19 incidence on campus. We are not taking it for granted.
The pandemic has seen all of us adapt in many ways, most of all practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, washing our hands and/ or sanitising at almost every turn and avoiding physical touch. The latter is difficult for kids who have had to learn to play without touching each other, communicate without sharing – they have had to adapt to what was their normal language. Thankfully kids are resilient and can adapt much faster than adults, but it has also had a toll on them.
We have had a lot of people question us on our decision to take the kids back to on site learning. It was not an easy decision to make. Luckily the school is not that big, and they were able to institute various measures to ensure they met COVID 19 prevention protocols as per the Ministry of Health and CDC guidelines. They also kept all the parents constantly updated on the plans to reopen and also took feedback and addressed our concerns adequately.
The school has done its part well. There is a “no mask no entry” policy, you have to have your temperature checked on entry and keep your mask on at all times, as well as practice the distancing rules. This is non negotiable. They have increased hand washing stations with soap around the school and all the classes, offices and accessible areas have “no touch” sanitiser dispensers. All the desks have clear plexiglass screens, are apart from each other, and the kids are not allowed to share any supplies or food with each other. They also do not mingle like before. Lunch, recess and games times are staggered so each year group is in one place at a time, the smaller the group, the easier it is to contain in case of an outbreak. There is an isolation unit on the compound in case of an incident too. Throughout the term there have been constant reminders to all of us to not linger or mingle on site, keep our masks on properly and sanitise constantly.
As parents, we have an obligation to teach our kids what the expected behaviour is once back in school, and the teachers have been reinforcing this too. I remember my daughter’s teacher preparing the kids during the online classes by having short presentations and Q and As on what to do and what not to do to keep safe on campus. I found it thoughtful of her asking the kids who were not used to wearing masks to keep them on in the house for a few hours in the week before going back to on site learning so they could get used to the feeling of having a mask on for a long time. We are also to report to the school in case we or our family members get infected at home. Sick kids (sore throat, or sniffles or coughs etc ) are not to be taken to school, and immuno compromised kids have been encouraged to learn from home.
I am proud of how well the kids have done in terms of their studies and psychological wellbeing during this time. Letting them talk about how they are feeling has helped a lot. It has been a confusing time for them. Having to be away from their school mates and friends throughout lockdown, and now back to playing without touching each other. Having to talk to each other through the masks that will hide the giggles…it is the simple things like this that matter to them. And we have to keep reassuring them that it is ok to feel sad about it, but it is much better and more important to be safe.
I will not lie that I have not been anxious throughout the term, I am glad for them to have a break at this time. The Covid numbers here are rising steadily and will be sure to increase after the Christmas festivities as many people are travelling up country in spite of warnings not to do so. We also have general elections in the new year, so might be back to online learning for the first two weeks of 2021. An advantage of this is limited movement and one can self isolate and monitor their health during this period in case of exposure over the holidays. The school has also reiterated on the need to be tested and quarantine as per the government guidelines for those who may travel internationally, before reporting back to campus.
This pandemic has taught us the meaning and importance of personal and communal responsibility. We need to keep safe for each other. We are wearing masks and maintaining social distance not just to protect ourselves and our loves ones, but those around us too.
As we head into the festive season, let us remember to keep safe and set a good example to our children on our human responsibility to not endanger each other recklessly. We all want to be with our loved ones but the risk is not worth it.
Keep safe and enjoy the holidays.