Days after schools in Gautam Budh Nagar district reopened for offline learning, teachers claim they have noticed distinctive behavioural changes in younger students as many primary and upper primary classes are welcoming pupils for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak shut schools in the year 2020.
From traits of introvert nature, low confidence to lethargy, low attention span — teachers say that the long duration of online learning has affected the students and transition to offline learning needs to be assisted by the school.
“On the first day of reopening of schools on Monday, we saw a lot of students feeling lethargic by the end of the day. Many students also showed signs of low confidence and were not comfortable speaking to their peers,” said Aditi Basu Roy, principal of Grads International School in Greater Noida West.
Basu Roy added that the school is focusing on outdoor activities for children and helping smooth transition to offline learning mode. “Since the students have spent the majority of their time indoors in the last two years, it is getting difficult for them to get accustomed to sports or outdoor activities, especially for the pre-primary classes. We have special sessions for students so that they learn motor skills and physical activity,” she added.
Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal of DPS Raj Nagar Extension in Ghaziabad added that the students are showing signs of lethargy and there is an unwillingness to come back to a regular routine.
“We have designed many attractive activities for the new session that will motivate students to attend school regularly. We are focusing more on physical activities as many students have become physically unfit due to the sedentary lifestyle they had been leading for nearly two years. Also, the online classes may have weakened their eyesight. Our school teachers have been instructed to be patient and kind and continue to hand-hold the students until they are able to feel comfortable in offline classrooms,” Upadhyaya said.
Renu Singh, principal of Amity International School, Noida, said that teachers have noticed that social skills of even senior students have deteriorated. “We noticed that students were finding it difficult to interact with each other. Their communication and language skills have also gone down, as during online classes they were not able to speak as much as they would do in a normal classroom— either with the teacher or with their peers,” she said.
Meanwhile, parents said that some students are not able to cope being away from home for longer durations as well.
“While most students are excited to be in the classroom, some younger children are feeling homesick as well. They are missing home and online classes,” said Manoj Kataria, founder of Gautam Buddh Nagar Parents Welfare Society.
Noora Sinha, counsellor at Shiv Nadar School in Noida said that self-consciousness may have increased among adolescents. “Among children going through puberty, who may be meeting their classmates after a gap of almost two years, a sense of self-consciousness is creeping in, where they may be doubting themselves whether they have gained/lost weight or not grown as tall as their friends, and so on. In such cases, it is essential for schools to ensure measures are taken to address these concerns,” she said.
Teachers say the Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on the emotional as well as physical well-being of students and schools are helping bridge the learning gaps by focusing on experiential learning and social skill development activities.
“In the offline classes, more focus is being given on the emotional and mental well-being of the students to enable them to connect with their peers and mentors. Individual as well as group activities to break the barriers of hesitation and nervousness are taken up to provide a conducive learning environment,” said Seema Kaur, principal, Pacific World School in Greater Noida.
Some schools are holding ice-breaking activities as well to make students comfortable with physical classes and a smooth transition from online learning mode.
“Our school has made provisions of assigning ‘buddies’ for new students in order to make them feel comfortable and allow them to mingle easily in the physical space,” said Dr Shalini Advani, director of the Pathways School in Noida.