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Am I Ready To Send My Child To School During The Pandemic?

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.
ReimagineTogether logoEditor’s Note: This article is a part of #ReimagineTogether, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with UNICEF India, YuWaah and Generation Unlimited, to spark conversations to create a new norm and better world order in the post-pandemic future. How have you and those around you coped with the pandemic? Join the conversation by telling us your COVID story and together, let's reimagine a safer, better and more equal future for all!

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.

The Lockdowns have relaxed now. Slowly, everybody is trying to get things back to normal. I am the mother of a 6-year-old and a 1 and a half-year-old. There has been news about schools trying to reopen by next month (November 2020), but I am not sure that I will send my son to school, at least this year. I will definitely send him to school in the next academic year, irrespective of the vaccine.

My son had a speech delay due to less interaction with peers of his age. The only way I could get him to talk was to make him mingle with other kids and ensure that he interacted with society. It was a tough journey.

Once he started talking, my next problem was dealing with his allergies. He had low immunity due to which he would quite often get a cough and cold and also skin rashes. The doctors initially advised me to limit his playtime outside and to keep him fully covered. But then, his condition became even worse.

Later on, the doctors themselves told me to let him play outside as much as he wanted and just to ensure that I cleaned him properly when he came home. Because, if we didn’t expose him to nature in his early years, it would be difficult for his body to develop immunity as he got older.

Along with medication for his immunity and allergies, and a spoon of chyavanprash, I finally managed to make my son a healthy child, who loves food and enjoys playtime equally, until the Coronavirus hit us.

It took a while for my son and his friends to adjust to this new arrangement of school. Representational image.

He hated going to school pre-Covid, but then he was happy once he reached school. These tantrums are common in children.

We had recently shifted to a new home because the apartment complex had a common garden, and we saw that a lot of children played here.

I did not want my younger daughter to face the same problem that my elder son faced. But Covid just brought me to the same situation once again. Earlier, I had just started taking them down for their evening walks. Suddenly, when one fine day, everything stopped, it was tough to explain to my son why he could no longer go down to play. He understood eventually.

In the month of June, when the schools were supposed to reopen, there was a huge debate on whether classes would start online or not, for the tiny tots. I had been waiting for the online classes to start because even if it was just for one hour, we could maintain a routine for the children.

It was tough but not impossible. Initially, all the children were upset that their friends were only on the laptop screens and not in front of them. It took a while for my son and his friends to adjust to this new arrangement of school.

Slowly, by the month of September, we could physically get hard copies of his books, which made homeschooling a lot easier.

Now, there are announcements by different state governments that schools will re-open by December 2020. Although I don’t think it will start anytime soon for pre-school kids. I am still not comfortable with sending my son to school for this academic year.

I do not want to leave him unattended at school, atleast for now. I know he is 6, but still, there are certain things that he does not understand. Yes, he is able to understand the fact that he should not remove his mask when he is outside the house or else Corona Virus will ‘bite his nose away’. But still, he is too immature to understand that he should avoid touching surfaces outside.

Moreover, we have now become comfortable with online classes. He has picked up the syllabus and also started writing.

Does That Mean I Am Keeping Him Locked Up In A Room The Entire Day?

No. These days, I have started taking both my children downstairs for a walk. Their playtime is limited to 30 minutes and they are supposed to play on their cycles. Once they are back, I apply Coconut oil, mixed with Kalonji and Methi on their bodies, before giving them a bath.

They talk to other children from a distance with their masks on. Yes, the pandemic, has been tough for us and has forced us to change our routine, but it is our duty as parents to ensure that our children enjoy their childhood to the fullest. I know I will be judged for this action of mine, but isn’t it high time that the children face the problem and learn how to deal with it?

I believe the best way to increase your immunity is to be physically and mentally strong. For a couple of days, when they came down to play, both my kids, would slip and fall because they had lost their sense of balance. Now, they are perfectly normal, happy kids. I do take them outside the gate once in a while, but I’m careful about social distancing.

I want them to feel what the real world looks like. The laptop may attempt to bring the entire world to them on their fingertips, but they cannot get the same experience on the screen.

With a set amount of rules and more care, my children are slowly taking their tiny steps to come back to normal.

The virus is here to stay for long. Even when the vaccination comes out, I don’t think it will be available soon to the general public. Until then, I want to teach my children to be strong and independent, so that they are ready to go back to the way things were when the world is completely normal again.

So, I may not be sending my son to school by December, but I will definitely send him back to school in June 2021.

This post is a part of COVID Diaries, a special series under the #ReimagineTogether campaign. Tell us how this lockdown and pandemic has affected you! Join the conversation by adding a post here. here.
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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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