Students in India and across the world have been braving more than their fair share of challenges for over a year now. The prolonged closure of schools, the online classes, the lack of peer-bonding, the absence of outdoor sports, the uncertainty over exams, the altered curricula, the excessive screen time and the social isolation have now cumulated into what can be called the Covid fatigue among students.
In a study conducted by Asian Journal of Psychiatry on the impact of Covid-19 on Indian students, 68.7 per cent respondents displayed signs of mild anxiety and 61 per cent showed signs of mild depression. A broader study conducted on the general population by Indian Journal of Psychiatry found that two-fifth (40 per cent) of the 1,685 people surveyed were experiencing anxiety or depression due to the pandemic.
More specifically, an assessment report released by ChildFund, a non-profit organization working towards child development, reveals that as many as 74 per cenr of 1725 students surveyed in different Indian states admitted to being sad or depressed because of missing classroom interaction with their classmates, friends and teachers.
Covid fatigue is for real and it is affecting hundreds of thousands of students across India, irrespective of grade and seniority. Students are anxious about their academic future and nervous about any learning gaps cropping up in their education. Their social circle has been disrupted and their health may be on the decline because of lack of enough exercise, sports, and outdoor activity.
In view of this scenario, the question begs to be asked: what can be done to alleviate this Covid fatigue?
Here's a possible solution
Three-Pronged Approach: Teachers, parents, and students need to work in tandem to implement a three-pronged approach that helps to alleviate Covid fatigue at different levels of being.
Physical: The pandemic has made us realize the importance of physical health and it is towards this bodily fitness we must strive to shrug off Covid fatigue.
- School children should remain physically active at home through exercises, yoga, games, aerobics etc. Parents must keep children involved in domestic chores that help in developing life skills such as cooking.
- Draw up a fitness regime and follow it for a week and then expand it to a month and beyond. Be disciplined and follow the proper schedule regarding diet and exercise.
- Young children from Nursery and Prep should be given fun tasks such as Dress Up party or Room Decoration or Table Arrangement activities so that their motor skill development continues unhindered.
- Kids must be taught exercises of the eye to reduce the impact of the prolonged exposure to TV/laptop/mobile screen.
Socio-Emotional: Humans are social animals by nature, but the pandemic and resulting lockdowns have driven a wedge in our social life. As best as we can, we must continue to socialize at a safe physical distance.
- The online platforms should be used not just for teaching and learning but also for socializing.
- Teachers should be trained in Social-Emotional Learning and help the children discuss their fears and anxieties.
-- Interactions with parents and siblings at home and mutual participation in activities like cooking, dusting, cleaning, dining helps children strengthen social bonds.
Psychological: Constant exposure to tragic news, graphic images on TV and newspapers may negatively impact a child’s mind. It’s important to not give in to negativity.
- A child experiencing any sort of stress or depression must open up to parents or seniors in the family.
- Parents, too, must have an empathetic attitude towards their children. Listen to them, hear out their problems, reassure them and express their love and support.
- To divert attention from negative influences, children must focus on building a hobby and spending some time on it daily.
- In case of any need for psychological intervention, one must get in touch with a qualified psychologist, counsellor, psychiatrist to help overcome depression or negativity.
A practical and positive outlook
Nothing helps as much as keeping a practical and positive outlook towards all the challenges of life. Students, parents, teachers must understand the challenge they are currently facing and realize that there is no quick-fix solution to it. Be patient, think positive, stay optimistic and do your bit to improve the situation. Later, if not sooner, the schools will reopen, the social bonds will be forged again, and education will return to normalcy. Till then, be each other’s support and look on the bright side.
- Written by Harish Sanduja. The author is Director-Schools, Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions, Ghaziabad.