Updated: January 22, 2022 9:08:32 am
While the district administration will decide on Saturday whether or not to reopen schools in Pune from January 24, mental health professionals across the city said that a majority of the children are eager to go back to school.
“For the last two years, complaints of the parents have been the same. Either children are not studying or they are using their internet access for other purposes, which parents do not find desirable,” Dr Bhooshan Shukla, child and adolescent psychiatrist, said.
“Most children are eager to go back to school. However, it will also depend on their psychological make up in the last two years. This can dictate how children will react to going to school. Right now, it appears that the majority will happily go back to school and adjust to their old routine,” Dr Shukla said.
According to Dr Niteen Abhivant, associate professor of psychiatry at B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, the risk-to-benefit ratio should be considered. “School should be reopened. It is not just about academics, the social development of children has been largely affected,” Dr Abhivant added.
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Children would love to go back to school, said Nidhi Gandhi, coordinator for the Connecting Trust peer educator programme (Pune). “Initially, children said that they enjoyed being at home with their families. However, soon they started missing their friends and physical activity. It has been difficult for them to remain attentive during online classes. There is a lack of privacy and silence required to focus on their studies. They feel unprepared for their exams because they have not understood theories and concepts and have not had a chance to practise things in person,” said Gandhi whose NGO conducts programmes in schools to equip children with skills for emotional and mental well being. “Children were disappointed when schools closed again during the third wave. Compared to last academic year, more children are expressing feelings of loneliness, boredom, isolation and lack of interest in doing anything,” Gandhi said.
Clinical psychologist and counsellor Rucha Shrikhande said the children have been the “prime sufferers” in the pandemic. “I get calls related to interpersonal conflicts in the family and people frustrated at constantly being at home. Children have suffered the most due to restrictions…School is a form of activity for children and not being able to perform it has led to high levels of frustration,” Shrikhande said.
Dr Shukla, however, struck a note of caution for children who experienced bullying at school. “There will be a need to accommodate children who are also struggling to go back to school. For them, school was a horrible experience and it would be a struggle to get them back to the system,” Dr Shukla added.
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