Back to school amidst the pandemic

As Namibia slowly returns to ‘normalcy’, we asked students, teachers, and parents to share their thoughts on going back to school.?

What does going back to school feel like?
“I did not hesitate in going back to school because before we came back, the school gave us a virtual workshop of how the school was going to implement safety measures like sanitisers, proper checks, social distance, all of those so we all got to see what school was going to be like before we actually came back. This reassured me and my parents so I’ve been happy to be back.” – student

Is it safe to return?
“We called in the parents and walked them through the protocols and how we were going to implement them. Then once they were satisfied and gave their consent, that’s when the kids came back and the teachers” – teacher
“I live with my grandparents so my parents and I were scared that I might infect them once I started going back to school. We were given a one-week try-out period but I decided to stay home and wait to see how other students are coping. All the feedback I heard was very good and there were no new cases in that time so I felt it was safe to return.” – student

Are teachers re-learning how to teach?
“It’s difficult for me to get through my point due to the masks we are wearing. We also have those PVC sheets in classes. We are supposed to stand in a particular area, which restricts movement. We are accustomed to doing that but we are learning to stop and be aware all the time.” – teacher

Online vs offline learning
“It’s nicer to be with my friends. And even the teachers, not all of them but some I really missed.” – student
“There’s nothing like being in the same physical space. Online, I would talk for 45 minutes with not much reciprocation which made it difficult to see that I was getting my point across. But I think the students understood that this is how it is going to be and they also had to learn to adapt and ask questions, often reaching out to me in my inbox.” – teacher

Was it too much screen time?
“As a parent I worried that my kids were getting too much screen time. And it was very disheartening that my kids, who are usually very active were now forced to be in the confines of their rooms. My daughter wears glasses and would often complain about headaches so it was tough to balance screen time and off-time. The opportunities we have to go on walks with our kids cannot be understated!” – parent

Are the kids happy to be back?
“I’m glad that they are back before exams because now is an important time to fill in the gaps of learning and revision that they were unable to attain during online classes. It’s a time to really sense their anxieties and importantly reassure them that things will be okay” – teacher
“Our school has consistently been having exams even online so I do feel I am prepared” – student
“Definitely I’m less prepared but because we are now back at school that gives me some confidence that I have the help to prepare me for exams. But I know that there are students that don’t have that opportunity which is just another thing that Namibia will have to bear with this year and those to come” – student

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