I tell you parents and adults, this too shall pass. COVID-19 shall end and give us a break. We shall grow. I write this because after the announcement of schools reopening in June, most parents panicked to have their children going back and some parents were left without options but to send them anyway. There was so much fear among parents, on how learners were going to accommodate social distancing and safety guidelines after the assurance that schools were safe for learners.
The school reopening plan proposed by the Department of Basic Education looked like a disaster for working families because not all grades went back to school at once. Those children who went back to school were not attending classes everyday also, which forced working parents to provide alternative transports at different times for different children and alternative child-care arrangements as the children got home earlier, as well as on days when the children are not in school.
The poverty gap in our country was exposed because for many learners, it was to choose between staying home and starving or going to school and get fed. Most public schools offer free meals to learners since most children experience hunger in their households. Many workers have lost their jobs during lockdown. School closure means that these children are going to suffer more hunger. Although measures are put in place to collect food from schools, I feel like it is not well-organised. Actually, how will parents afford transport money and the time to go and collect the food?
School closure has too many drawbacks like, most parents don’t have family nearby to help with childcare. Most can’t afford helpers who could supervise their children on the days they are not in school. Also, there are high levels of substance abuse, depression, fear, loneliness, domestic violence and child abuse. I see school closure as causing more financial worries add stress to many parents and raising children’s levels of emotional exhaustion, depression and anxiety.
For private schools many are lucky to be attending classes online. Even so, the President’s announcement of the second closure coincided with three term schools’ second term holidays lasting the whole of August.
Many parents with children in either private or public schools have become jobless or are staying home for no pay due to lack of child care caused by schools’ closure.
I write these words to encourage parents and learners to be patient. I want to remind them that until this pandemic is under control, the 2020 academic year is not certain. As a learner myself, I know for sure that our education is affected beyond repair because teachers will not be able to complete the curriculum. This could have lasting implications for our life time. But there is little we or our parents can do. What we are going through comes with the package of COVID-19. Let us be patient and hopeful.