Educational Institutions: Transition from Lockdown to Reopening

Dr. Anita Samal

Professor, Political Science
Kalinga University, Naya Raipur (Chhattisgarh)

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world schools, offices and businesses were all shut down in the fear of an unknown virus. Nearly two years have passed and we’re beginning to lead a life in what the world calls the “new normal” – a life with masks, sanitizers, gloves, social distancing, vaccination, and of course, the COVID-19 virus with all its new variants. Learning and Education, which had shifted to a new online mode — beautifully decorated project files were replaced by the word, pdf and ppt files, raised hands were replaced by echoing mics, classrooms with desks & benches were replaced by meeting links — is now gearing up to go back to the old ways. As of November, around 22 States and Union Territories have allowed the reopening of Educational Institutions with strict instructions to follow COVID protocol.

The lockdown has been harsh on all of us and it hasn’t been any kinder to the student population. Adjusting to an online mode of education was a challenge for both students and teachers. While many were able to adapt to early morning and late-night online classes and the numerous assignments requiring long hours in front of a screen, for many others basic access proved a major obstacle. Several students across the country were unable to secure digital devices and good internet connections to perform at the same level as their peers. Apart from problems related to basic access, many students battled through health issues — physical and mental — while trying to figure out their way in this new normal.

The transition from an online mode of education to an offline mode has been long-awaited and warmly welcomed by students and teachers alike. Just as the transition from offline to online education was a difficult reality to accept, changing back to the old ways isn’t going to be a piece of cake either.

All educational institutions must take care to follow social distancing norms and regular sanitization of the premises. Convincing students and parents that it is safe to return to regular classes and helping them overcome their fear and anxiety is another major concern. It is important to provide students with socio-emotional support and give them time to rebuild their social skills as they settle back into a routine. 

As the return to in-person school, college, and learning roll out, things will not simply spring back to the way it was. There must be understanding and cooperation between the administration and the students to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible while making sure that the health and well-being of all persons involved are given priority.

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