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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Counselling helpline, daily calls: Delhi schools reach out to students who lost parents to Covid

The high death toll over the last month in the city has meant that many schools have seen multiple children lose a parent. They are now engaged in counselling and helping them.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
May 20, 2021 10:23:11 pm
black fungus, Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), illness, disease, post covid diseases, pandemic, MIS-C, indianexpress.comAccording to Dr Giridhara R Babu the hospital based prevalence is not the right parameter for population level parameter. (Express photo by Amit Mehra/Representational)

Following the announcement of financial support to children orphaned after the death of one or both parents due to Covid-19, the Delhi government has asked schools to send across details of such students.

Class teachers and parent-teacher associations of private schools have been compiling data on students who have lost one or both parents to send across to the Directorate of Education. However, heads of government schools said they have not received this request from the department yet.

The high death toll over the last month in the city has meant that many schools have seen multiple children lose a parent. They are now engaged in counselling and helping them.

“There are six children in our school who have lost either parent and we have sent that information to the department. We are in constant touch with these children. Teachers are talking to both the child and the surviving parent. When classes resume after summer vacation, all teachers will be asked to be more careful in their treatment of these children. I will hold a session with all students so that everyone can have their feelings out. We are planning to start from June 1, but not so much with studies per se as with ‘special days’ and opportunities to speak out, for acting, art, dance and physical education classes. There will be reduced pressure. There will be more focus on activities and a play-based system,” said Birla Vidya Niketan principal Minakshi Kushwaha.

At Mount Abu Public School, seven children have lost a parent. “We began a counselling helpline for the children. Teachers have been giving ‘care calls’ to a few students every day to ask about their well-being. Teachers are in continuous contact with children who have lost their loved ones. We will continue with all guidance and counselling even once online classes resume. All teachers have been given training during this time on handling questions of mental health,” said principal Jyoti Arora.

“Not only children who have lost their parents, their friends are also troubled. Apart from that, questions of what is happening now are difficult for children to come to terms with. A child talking to me asked me why there was no infrastructure. There is trauma in each and every child. We have done regular interactions with teachers and counsellors and also told friends to be in touch with each other because peers getting together also helps. When we resume classes, we will also see how to move forward from the tragedy. There has to be a lot of positivity,” said The Indian School principal Tania Joshi.

Schools and students are also trying to come to terms with the loss of teachers. “We lost our senior-most maths teacher Anju Narula on May 17. It is a devastating loss that the whole school is reeling under. She was a brilliant teacher and a fabulous master trainer,” said Rashmi Biswal, principal of DAV School, Pushpanjali Enclave.

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