Let's go back to school

María Grazia Bastidas

The COVID-19 pandemic changed everyone’s lives abruptly. Lockdowns were enforced, businesses were closed, and schools had to shut down and transfer their classrooms to a virtual sphere. Homes suddenly became workplaces, both for adults and children. But for many, it was not easy. Numerous siblings sharing the only phone or computer available, sometimes even borrowed from a family member or neighbor. Some kids climbing up trees to get data reception; meanwhile others were spending the entire day at a park or shopping mall to use the free Wi-Fi.  

Adults tend to have many different activities throughout the day, which takes them to several places. But for most kids, their main routine revolves around school: going to school, switch classrooms, spend time with friends and teachers, and then go back home. When all you want to do is learn and play but swiftly it all comes down to halt and uncertainty rises, you start wondering what happens now and what will occur next.  

In the past, many kids would get excited if school was cancelled for a day. Now, all they plead is to go back to the classrooms. And for most of these students, it is not an adequately equipped one. Still, they desire it with all their heart. Now that many countries are in further stages of their vaccination plans and children start to return to school grounds, it is appropriate to reflect how this situation left a mark on how we see and act when it comes to educational affairs. 

Childhood is not life’s waiting room, and schools are not just a place to leave them for the day while adults are working. More now than ever, it is crucial to call for action, demand responses and hold accountable the different actors whose duty was to ensure every kid continued studying while in lockdown. Let’s also acknowledge the challenges regarding their mental health and the scars that these struggles left upon them. And last but certainly not least, the resilience that this journey is creating needs to transform into a plan that updates school properties regarding technology.  

Getting school staff and students vaccinated is only a part of the process. Both actors need to be equipped in matters of resources and materials, as well as in information and support; not only on the academic level, but also on the mental health area. It has been a tough time for everybody, but children have had it rougher, so let’s get to work and let’s go back to school.