Back to school: Let’s just go with the flow

The month of July seems to be off to a good start.

First, we recorded only one case of Covid-19 (imported, no local transmission on July 1). Second, the government announced that schools will fully reopen within the next three weeks.

Finally! After more than three months, my two boys are finally going back to school.

This calls for a celebration because it won’t be just the first day back to school, but also a long-awaited break I have been looking forward to after being cooped up at home with them 24/7.

Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin had on July 1 announced that school will reopen in stages.

Students in Form 6, Remove Class, Form 1 to 4 and Standard 5 and 6 for primary school will return to school on July 15.

Standard 1 to 4 primary school students will begin classes on July 22. Tuition centres will also be allowed to open on July 15.

It looks like the world is returning to normality sooner than I thought. And I can’t wait!

The past 108 days have been somewhat like the longest ever holiday for my kids. They slept in, were in pyjamas most of the day, and were constantly snacking.

Although they were also busy doing online classes, Google Classroom homework as well as tuition via Zoom, they were somewhat on a “semi-holiday”.

I had to homeschool my youngest son who only did his school curriculum via Google Classroom and WhatsApp videos. And that has been one of the most challenging experiences.

Trying to get an eight-year-old to sit and focus for a straight one hour is no easy feat. I have a new-found respect for his class teachers, who have more than 20 kids at a time in class. Hats off.

While I miss having a little normalcy with the kids in school and worry about educational setbacks, I was anxious and would be lying if I said I wasn’t having doubts. There is still a risk of infection if my kids return to school when we are not ready. Will they be safe?

I am sure the Education Ministry has faced tough decisions and challenges in restarting the children’s education. Stringent measures and standard operating procedures are taken to ensure the safety of our children.

For example, dual sessions, staggered learning or on a rotation basis. This will keep number of students to a minimum at any time. But are the schools really ready when having clean toilets in government school already seems unfeasible?

And what about the children? While I can teach and remind my kids hygiene practices such as wearing face masks, washing their hands and physical distancing, this almost seems impossible to ensure children, particularly those of younger age group, to follow.

Nevertheless, (new) normalcy has to return and my kids cannot be confined at home forever. It is necessary for them to socialise with their friends. I am sure they are as excited (although they don’t want to admit it) to return to school to see their friends.

One thing I have learnt throughout this whole time is that digital-based learning is not going away.

Who knows what will happen next year… online learning will somehow fill the gap if such things happen again.

But I can only imagine how difficult it is for teachers to access their students without being able to interact with them much. How will they form an opinion on their students based on “objective-based” assessment particularly for lower primary students for whom exams have been done away with?

Whatever it is, everyone has to adapt to the changing conditions even in our education system. Let’s just go with the flow, wing it and figure it out along the way.

For now, I am just as excited for school to begin.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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