Covid has brought forth untold hardship is an understatement today, but that it has eaten into simple pleasures of school life and children is one of its cruelest consequences.
Ever since schools re-opened earlier this month on October 4, children have neither shared their tiffins nor chased each other in frolic during recess – the two things that brought the most joy to children pre-Covid days.
Both parents and teachers are mindful of the prevalent restrictions and have laid stress on social distancing at all costs – but that robbed children of their cheeriest pleasures of school life.
“Pre-Covid, true essence of the intervals was eating food from friends’ tiffin and giving away our own. Unfortunately, we are not getting to do it now because of Covid-19 related restrictions. I have waited a year to eat something cooked by my friend’s mother but sadly, I still don’t get to do so,” says Shravani Kshirsagar of St. Lawrence School, Aurangabad.
“Coming to school amidst corona has turned things odd. Neither do we get recess time, nor are we allowed to sit together on one bench. Sharing notes and stationery items is also restricted. All this makes me feel distant with my friends and lonely as I barely get little merry time with friends,” says Divya Sonawane of Kanya Prashala, Deogaon Rangari.
Sahil Bhagat of Holy Cross English High School, Aurangabad, has a similar complaint. He says that the alternate-day attendance in school ensures that he neither eats with his friends nor engages in a game on the school grounds. “I am happy to join back the campus, but three-hour school with no recess does not allow me to spend enough time with my friends and that’s what I have craved for, the whole lockdown.”
Swara Kathade of Little Flower High School, Thane has contradictory views. According to her, following Covid-19 guidelines is more important given the current scenario, rather than having recess and fun time with friends.
Not only students but teachers are unhappy about imposing restrictions on children. “Covid norms restrict us from doing extracurricular and cultural activities equally necessary along with the academics for the growth of children. We’re trying to figure some way out to start some additional fun activities keeping social in mind,” said Shashikala Nilwant, Headmistress of Kanya Prashala, Deogaon Rangari.
Many schools which earlier operated a mess system have done away with the same and those that encouraged children to get lunch/snacks from home now pack off their children without a recess. School, which was all about friends and food, is now just attendance, learning with a dozen constraints in place and back home.
According to Archana Khona, a teacher at Adarsh English School, Dombivali, “Social distancing has to be maintained at any cost in the school and if we allow them to eat tiffins in schools, it would become difficult to make them sit apart and restrict them from sharing food.”
Free Press Journal spoke to Manoj Chandra, CEO of White Swan and this is what he had to say about children missing out on their best experiences in life, “Even if schools have been implementing such strict regulations about children not being socially active in the school, parents must be cognizant of such measures and understand that there is a need to regulate the lifestyle of children so that they get their social space.”
Sharing and caring for each other are some tenets that are taught to children as part of a good value system, probably on a global level but thanks to Covid, children find themselves quite alone yearning for some ‘fun’ time.