Schools have closed again and we are again back to online classes. Last month, in a phase wise manner, schools started opening up to students, after more than a year of closure. But with the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country and in the state, the authorities had no option but to shut down school for Classes 1 to 8 since April 20 last. As more and more COVID cases are being detected in the state, the state government is likely to take a call soon on closing down all educational institutions across the state. We have seen that children are the worst sufferers in this more than a year pandemic induced crises. One, their inability to understand the crises yet practically facing it, is a burden on their fragile minds. Two, they have lost all lively interactions as the schools are closed, and they can’t go for any outings. Three, they are back to online learning, which is not viable in our part of the world for varied reasons. Four, they are bound to live in the company of their parents round the clock, and this is psychologically challenging for them. For a year they have been facing it and this has brought a disruption in the way they would otherwise imagine and execute their relations with the outer world. Now when we had given a chance to schooling to operate in an in-person mode, an upsurge in COVID cases once again made the government close the schools. So the window of opportunity for the children to resume their interactions with teachers and classmates is once again shut. Even if they cannot communicate it properly they do express the disturbance through their behaviour. The pressure brought to the family by this pandemic also reflects in the behaviour of the parents in every way possible. This is more true in case of the families whose economy has taken a severe hit. The turbulence in the family adversely affects the interaction of the elders with the younger ones. This brings stress to the overall homely atmosphere. In such a situation it is the job of experts to educate parents and teachers to take care of the innocent minds of the children. One day these crises will be over, but if scars are inflicted to the psyche of our children that can be a long term loss. To avoid such a loss we need to create a lively atmosphere in the family, and create ways for our children to play, and thus unburden. The schools that manage online education these days also need to be mindful of this aspect of children’s psyche.
Meanwhile as was expected there is a lot of debate on the current surge of COVID-19 cases in the state, with the administration being criticized for lack of planning/ readiness even after last year’s onslaught. While critics would have their own arguments, we should appreciate the medics, paramedics and other frontline workers who have been working tirelessly despite limited resources. But reports about scarcity of hospital beds, ventilators and even oxygen cylinders makes one wonder whether the administration has done enough. It would have been much better if we would have invested in medical infrastructure rather than other development and awareness activities. Conducting government sponsored events for the state’s progress and people welfare is a much needed step, but it may not be prudent to do so at the cost of people’s health. The authorities need to prioritize between development and health. And while there could be a prolonged debate about the reasons contributing to current wave, a lot could be achieved by increasing focus on healthcare. It is apparent that the pandemic can be overcome with a behavioural change in the people. Mulling over a second lockdown, the authorities are possibly ruling against a complete lockdown so as not to cripple the economy and strangle the daily earnings of a majority of the population. The least that all of us can do is to follow the laid down protocols of using masks, social distancing and abstain from gatherings of any kind. In fact, we should resort to a self-lockdown and venture out only for extreme necessities. If all of us practice this self discipline for a month, God willing, we will overcome this crisis soon.