As students resumed physical classes in schools on Wednesday after a long COVID-induced hiatus, many of them said they were looking forward to it especially after facing many problems during online teaching — like not having access to smartphones or the internet and health issues due to eye and neck strain.
On the first day of school, students shared their concerns with their teachers who said that they could make out the learning gaps and how additional work will be needed to make up for the loss.
Rimpy, a Class 11 student of a government school in Tilak Nagar, is among the many in state-run schools who could not afford smartphones for online classes and were happy to attend regular classes again. “My younger brother is in Class 9. We did not have a phone to attend online classes which proved to be quite difficult. Now that physical classes have resumed, it will be easier for my brother and me to cope with studies,” said the girl, whose father works at a factory in Model Town.
Ayushka Gupta, a student of the same school with two other siblings, faced similar issues. ”I would often call my teachers and come and meet them in person at school to understand subjects,” she said.
Lakshya, a student of Class IX in a government school in Sunder Nagri, said his elder brother had a phone but he would leave for work every day which meant he couldn’t attend online classes. Seema, a domestic help, has three children, all of whom used to go to school before the pandemic. After the pandemic, she said, it was difficult for her to make ends meet since households had stopped calling them and even her husband was left unemployed.
“My children could not take classes since we could not afford a smartphone. They have been promoted to higher class but are finding it difficult to cope with studies,” she said. Kajal, a Class 12 Commerce student, said that owing to online classes, she started feeling a burning sensation in her eyes and had constant neck and back pain.
Long screen time also caused severe headaches, she said.The students said they are aware of the precautions they need to take due to COVID-19.
“I and my classmates have been adhering to all COVID-19 protocols. We know how it’s important to mask up, sanitise our hands and maintain social distancing while interacting with each other in classes for our own and everyone else’s well-being too,” said Kajal. The teachers said they learned from the students about the various problems they faced due to the COVID-19 situation and were hoping that the studies will be back on track.
Jyoti Arora, principal of Mount Abu School in Rohini, said, “The first period was spent in taking feedback from students about their mental and emotional well-being, the changes they have seen in their personalities due to the coronavirus situation. ”We could clearly see that there were huge learning gaps and students will have to be taught some basic concepts.” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia stressed that if schools and colleges are not opened now, ”then an entire generation will move forward with a knowledge gap”.
Schools were closed for the last one and half years due to the pandemic. During this time, there has been a lot of damage to the education of the children. We are concerned about the health of the children but also their education. “If schools and colleges are not opened now, then an entire generation will move forward with a knowledge gap. We are in full alert mode and it will be ensured in all schools that COVID -related protocols and social distancing are followed. Based on the experiences of the first round, the decision on opening the school for other classes will be taken, he said.
Sisodia also stated that teaching will not begin immediately once schools start. In the first 2-3 days, work will be done on their social-emotional well-being through dialogue so that the children can be brought out of this mentally unsettling phase. Students shared a list of grievances regarding online classes and a major was one was poor network. Richa Rani, a Class 12 student of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Vasundhara Enclave said she was happy about returning to school.
“One of the major challenges we faced during online classes was the network issue. Due to bad signal, our time and energy were wasted. But now that we are in school, we have a set routine. We have a proper mindset and can stay focused,” she said. Teachers also said that they missed talking to students and meeting them and their wait was finally over.
Sangeeta Rana, an Accountancy teacher for classes 11 and 12, said, “Online classes were definitely challenging. There were students who did not have smartphones in the first place, so we had to arrange it for them somehow and if phones were arranged then the poor network was another challenge. ”Sometimes, students switched off their video mode or they acted a bit lazy…But overall, they were cooperative.”
Shoaib Rana, a teacher at Government Boys’ Senior Secondary School in Sunder Nagri said, “It was a nice feeling to meet students after a long gap and we had been missing them. ”Students shared their problems regarding online classes like network issues, absence of smartphones, financial issues which forced children to work and health issues which affected their studies. ”Students have completely forgotten how to study and with the resumption of physical classes, their studies will come back on track.”
Ananya Tripathi, a student of a government school in Vinod Nagar, said that though they have to give up the comfort of studying from home, the advantages of classroom teaching cannot be ignored. “Waking up early was the norm earlier too when we had to attend online classes. But we didn’t have to get ready and could take classes while enjoying breakfast,” she said. ”But I feel that I do not know many important concepts that I would have grasped better had I been coming to school,” she said.
Mridu Gupta, a teacher at a school in Brahmpuri, said, “We would hold classes as per the convenience of students. If a particular student had limited access to phone, we would take their classes or send videos to them.” Wearing masks and carrying umbrellas as heavy rains lashed Delhi, students of classes 9-12 returned to schools after they reopened on Wednesday following a long hiatus due to COVID-19.
Some institutions, however, have decided to call children for physical classroom studies only after a few weeks. Many are not providing buses for students and have asked parents to pick up and drop their wards.