Post Mortem

Schools during coronavirus

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/22/2020 2:11:51 PM IST

 The COVID-19 is surely not the last epidemic that will threaten school continuity, given research on how climate change will affect infectious disease occurrence. Schools must immediately update their emergency preparedness plans by developing contingency plans that not only address school-based prevention and safety measures for epidemics but also identify ways to continue educating and supporting students and teachers if schools are closed. The pandemic that the world faces today, and its associated social and economic stressors can undermine children’s development and wellbeing. 

Coronavirus has ignited a global response and realization that our present way of life is incompatible and does not function. It has shattered the perception of what is normal and deconstructed society as we know it. It has catalysed a new utopia that is whisking over our fragile school governance system across the world, country, and state. With schools shut 320 million students affected by it and the government’s instant control mechanism of shifting to online teaching platform brought in some relief by keeping the balls rolling though it has created an intense digital divide with embedded gender and class dividers. Pushing the educators, students, and families to make enormous efforts to do the best they can do to handle and manage the hurdles due to the pandemic. Closure of schools has highlighted the dreadful reality in the lives of students and particularly with disadvantaged children. Issues of uneven internet and technology, limited access to mental and physical health services, and food insecurity highlighted the role of schools as a vital pillar in promoting community resilience and reconstructing social, emotional, cultural, economic, and physical health. Leaving the school with no choice, if they don’t teach remotely some may miss out on a major part of school time and learning.  A sizeable group of already disadvantaged students will be left out and fall even farther behind. 

The legacy of collective and individual grief that COVID-19 will leave behind has serious implications for schools, communities, and the mental health and wellbeing of students, teachers, and families. To meet up this challenge schools need to be given resources to prioritize joined up educational responses that support young people to develop the emotional, social, and civic skills that will build resilience during and after the pandemic and transform anxiety into the agency –even in normal times. Skills are the building blocks for the engaged constructive citizenship vital to building sustainable and inclusive societies. Schools are themselves communities that can help young people play an active role in building kinder, more caring societies during and after the crisis. Understanding schools as communities prepare young people to live and participate in the local area and wider society. Schools need to navigate the short- and long-term consequences of the greatest crisis we have faced after the second world war. 

We don’t need another pandemic to prove that schools are much more than institutions reconfiguring learning opportunities as important as it is. But the outbreak does illustrate educational systems’ ethical responsibility in providing more than just plain grades signifying curricular mastery.

Schools not only communicate knowledge for students, but they play a vital role in promoting pre-pandemic community resilience, democratic solidarity, human development, social welfare, employment, and childcare. Pandemic resilient schools can help pandemic resilient society but only if they are well supported. If the schools are well-taken care of by the educational policies, they can fulfil complex roles.

The pandemic has opened Pandora’s box and brought forward the urgency in revisiting the educational policies and strengthen its weak point closure of schools necessarily in the future. It should not mean the closure of learning but should be a well-defined support and approach system so that any unprecedented incident in the future should not take us by surprise and neither should it create a divide where the privileged make the most and those behinds left out.  As everyone is equally important as the other. Lack of research and policies on guidance for planning educational continuity is disastrous, as education is itself a form of psychosocial support that promotes holistic wellbeing during the crisis.

Bharat Prasad, 

Kohima

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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