By Farzana Bashir

Srinagar:  Class XII student Sidrat-ul-Muntaha’s joy knew no bounds when the government announced the reopening of schools. For six months, the 18-year-old had  missed her friends and the basketball court.

 “I belong to a very conservative family. In my family, girls are not allowed to go out.  I learned to play basketball in school. At home, I always felt drowsy. Fatigue consumed my inner strength,” she said.

Sidrat is not an isolated case.  Being at home for almost six months substantially affected the emotional and mental well-being of the students and teachers.

“It was not easy to stay home for so long. I always felt like a prisoner. I missed my friends and school.  I had no one with who I could share my joys and worries. Studying online requires a lot of understanding, patience, and courage.  It is not as easy as it sounds,” said Huda, an 11th standard student.

Even teachers had to toil hard to teach students online given the slow internet speed. “During the pandemic, we had to work hard to teach students.  Teaching students online was not easy. Sometimes poor network connectivity was very frustrating,” said Farheen (name changed), a teacher at one of the Government Higher Secondary Schools.

Farheen said the reopening of schools has created a sense of belonging and brought smiles on the faces of students who did not have the means to buy gadgets for online classes.

“Starting all over again was not an easy task. I feel relieved after rejoining school. We don’t have to worry about network issues anymore. Teaching in schools is much easier than teaching online,” she said.

School administrations have also found an alternative method to reach out to the students whose parents are reluctant to send their wards to school because of the pandemic.  

“We record the lectures and then send these recordings to students whose parents have not allowed them to attend school given the pandemic,” said Shamas Khan, a teacher at Government Higher Secondary School, Khanyar.

Psychiatrists said COVID 19 has not only affected students but also the health workers. “The affected individuals show several symptoms of mental trauma such as mood swings, irritability, anger, insomnia, etc.  Since the lockdown was eased, the incidents of depression and anxiety have shown a decline,” said Dr. Saleem Yousuf, a psychiatrist at SMHS hospital.

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