“Initially, the pandemic felt like a holiday,” says 14-year-old Saksham Sachdeva, head-boy from Narayana e-Techno school, Delhi-NCR, as he engages in a conversation with Shreyosi Chakraborty from EducationWorld about his thoughts on school reopening, learning loss, post-covid problems, online teaching and the pandemic. “As days converted into weeks, months passed by and the lockdown went on increasing was when we understood the impact this ‘holiday’ would have on our lives for the next few months or even years.
In a new series titled – Students Corner, EducationWorld pens down the pandemic experiences directly from students.
Q.The Head Boy/Girl is one of the most coveted positions in schools. How are you carrying out your responsibilities online and amidst the virtual classes? How it is different compared to the pre-covid times?
The day-to-day responsibilities of the Head Boy and student body are more muted due to Covid. However, we have had several online events and activities. I have been able to take on the responsibilities of planning and coordinating these events along with the teachers.
This is very different from pre-covid times where there are a lot more daily responsibilities such as assembles, seasonal and periodic activities such as Sports Days and Cultural Fests where the Head Boy has many responsibilities.
Q.Going by reports, even after re-opening not many students are attending in-person classes. What has the response been like in your school? Is online learning a preferred choice?
My school is offering both options right now. Many students have started returning to school. However, some students still prefer to attend online classes due to issues such as transportation, fear of third-wave etc. I feel that offline learning is better than online learning. Most students also feel the same way. But some parents are afraid to send their kids to school. Hopefully, we can have a full reopening soon.
Q.Since there has been little time for revision of the previous year’s syllabus and the pandemic has caused disruptions in continued education, how do you think the learning gap can be bridged?
Yes, there has been some disruption, but not much. Our online classes were quite regular and our teachers managed to cover most of the syllabus even though exams were cancelled due to the pandemic. I think if teachers, students and parents work together as a team, they can bridge the learning gap.
Q.According to you what is more viable at this stage? Is it returning to physical classes or a continuation of the online ones?
Depends on the situation, I feel that the cases are low enough to have a bit of both, physical classes for 2 to 3 days a week and online for the rest. That way we can ensure that schools are not too crowded, and we can also get the benefit of learning and meeting our friends.
Q.How has the journey been from March 2020? What changes did you/your friends have to incorporate to continue the pandemic?
It was a really difficult time. Not just for me but all of us. Initially, I was enjoying them like a holiday. But after that, I realized that it’s not a holiday or summer vacation. So, I put a lot of effort and came back on track. We had to get adjusted to a different routine. Not being able to play was difficult. We had to develop new habits, meet, and talk to friends online and also play virtual games with them to be able to pass the time.
Q.How were your practical classes (lab sessions) managed during the pandemic?
When the teachers were allowed to get back to school, they sent videos of lab work and experiments. We learnt about them virtually. Once school reopens, we will do the experiments physically.
Q.How did you make up for the missing peer interaction? Have you managed to stay connected with your friends?
Well, I managed to stay connected with my friends through social media platforms and calls and I even found my old school friends. I keep talking to them often.
Q.Now that schools are reopening in a phased manner, are you apprehensive or eager to join school back? What is your parents’ take on the issue?
I am glad that schools are reopening after a long time. I am a little apprehensive but am confident that with a phased opening there will be fewer students and we can socially distance properly. My parents are ok with it since they have also returned to the office, they feel more confident of schools reopening now.
Q.In the absence of in-person interaction with teachers, how do you keep abreast with the latest career options or higher education prospects available to you currently?
I had a lot of discussions with my parents about the new emerging career options or which stream to choose in class 11. My teachers are also available anytime I have a doubt about it and are happy to help.
Q.How did you cope with exam stress? Did you have access to a counsellor who could help you through difficult times?
I normally do not get stressed and try to relax by listening to music or going out for a walk.
Q. As per the CBSE new pattern for Class 12, the exam will be held twice a year with a reduced syllabus, one exam for each term. What is your take on this?
Covering the syllabus for the second exam will be difficult I think, but otherwise, it should be easier than before and should allow us to score higher.
Q. How are you preparing for competitive exams? Are you attending post-school tutorials online?
The competitive exam syllabus is covered at my school, so there is no need for tutorials.
Q. Have you understood the National Education Policy 2020’s takeaways? What is your take on it?
I understand that it gives students many options and the assessment criteria is more relaxed. I think that is good and will help students learn what they like.