The frequent outbursts, abrupt halt to the pursuit of a hobby, worries about the family’s finances… these are some of the many emotional turmoils students who have lost their parents to Covid are suffering from.
Many teachers who are reaching out to such students in Vizag said that while the younger ones were overwhelmed by the grief of losing their parents, the older pupils, though drowned in sorrow, were having to deal with the uncertainty over their future and that of their families.
Many students of Class XII, for instance, have shared their fears with teachers that they might not be able to study engineering or medicine after the death of the family’s sole earning member. Ravi Kumar, a class XI student of city school is worried about how she will recharge her phone every month now that her father is no more.
Navya, a class V student who has lost her mother made a painting depicting her mother accompanying her to school on a two-wheeler, which she used to do before Covid arrived. Sridhar, a class III child has told his teacher that his father’s death has left him with no friends.
As a matter of fact, it is not just parents; a number of students are also having to endure the pangs of losing their grandparents and uncles to the pandemic. Very few schools have devised ways to reach out to the children such as identifying a teacher whom the child can be most comfortable with and initiating interactive sessions with the children.
Speaking to Hello Vizag, the principal of convent school in Ramnagar area, said “there are students who have their guards up and they do not want intrusion. To tackle the situation, we have identified a teacher who a child is close to and getting that teacher to interact with the student. In fact, the sessions are planned but it is made to appear unplanned so that the child can open up.”
“Many senior students are worried about their future after the death of their father, the sole earning member of the family. Due to this, they are not sure whether they will be able to pursue a career of their choice anymore,” said another correspondent of the corporate college in Vizag
N Bhaskar Rao, senior Mathematics lecturer of a Junior college in the Assilimetta area said that on some occasions children were displaying conflicting emotions, which showed they had a “restless mind”. In these moments, we have to listen to what they are saying, instead of trying to suggest a solution…. With pouring out (of grief and anxiety), comes some relief,” he added.
Indeed, many teachers face a stumbling block when a student has his or her “guards up and refuses to open up”, a problem that has become more intractable in the absence of in-person classes. “Many teachers in our school are ready to reach out to children, but it is difficult to comprehend a child’s emotions in an online class. But during an in-person class, if a child has her head down or is not answering the teacher’s question, one can assume something is wrong,” said another principal of the government-run school.
Mrs. Parvathi Kashyap a Consultant clinical psychologist at Queens NRI Hospital, said certain behavioral patterns could be observed in an online space, too. Maybe it could not submit assignments on time..or some behaviour that is different from the usual one,” she said.