First day at school, amid the pandemic
Both parents and children are happy to be back at school, and do not wish to return to distance learning.
This September, the start of the school year seemed more overwhelming than ever before. One could observe the mixed feelings of excitement, joy, and confusion among the students, parents, and teachers at Sagarejo’s Public Schools #1 and #4.
Early morning on the first day of school, students began gathering in the garden of Sagarejo’s Public School #4. While it is not mandatory for the students to wear masks, many of them — including the youngest among them — were voluntarily covering their faces. This was not done solely for the purpose of hygienic protection, but also to demonstrate students’ awareness about COVID-19. After the many weeks of distance learning, which was challenging for children, parents, and teachers alike, the willingness to go back to normal learning processes is now demonstrably high; everyone displays a readiness to comply with the new safety regulations set by the government.
All the standard safety procedures are observed as children enter the school building: they pass a disinfection barrier, a thermal screening, and they sanitize their hands. These procedures delay entrance to the classroom, so children have to be at school 30 minutes earlier ensuring timely arrival for their first lessons.
Although hand sanitizers are installed throughout the building, teachers also encourage the children to go to the restrooms and wash their hands after each lesson.
The first day back in the classroom was unusual and emotional for both students and teachers. Wearing a mask, which is mandatory for teachers, makes their jobs physically harder due to the strained breathing. Masks also cover their emotional expressions, requiring students to focus harder to equally understand the information teachers are conveying.
The first lesson for all students was dedicated to sharing more information about COVID-19 and related safety regulations. Children were also introduced to their daily schedules.
First graders were overwhelmed by their first day back at school, however, those feelings would have been present with or without COVID-19. The first graders’ parents believe that their children’s feelings towards school depend greatly on developing an uninterrupted routine of in-school attendance. Some parents think that distance learning could ruin the children’s overall understanding of the school, and moreover, that this could be damaging to their mental health.
Both parents and children are happy to be back at school, and do not wish to return to distance learning. They say that they are ready to follow all the regulations set by the authorities.
Eighth grade students emphasize how important it is to be physically present in the classroom, to interact with friends, and to share opinions about different subjects with each other and with their teachers.
The readiness and enthusiasm of the parents, children, and administration to adapt to the new set of in-school rules makes the safe management of the learning process possible during this shared COVID-19 reality.