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Parenting and childcare during school closure

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IT’S NO longer news that the lockdown has been eased and replaced with a curfew order in almost all states in the countries. The economy has also been reopened.

  Cure has not been found for the novel coronavirus pandemic neither has the spread properly curbed around the globe with numbers in Nigeria hitting over10, 000 but still, some wonder as businesses have been reopened, when will schools follow suite? Rumor went round that the federal government has plans for the reopening of schools by June 8 with certain guidelines but the federal government had ruled out the possibilities of reopening school at the said date with the increase in numbers of cases in the country and the cure not anywhere in sight.

  Parenting and childcare amid the pandemic has been a thing of mixed feelings, reasonings, fear and psychology. Parents live with fear that their children can get infected with the virus and be able to fight it due to their immunity while they that might also get infected wouldn’t be able to fight it due to their weaker immunity. Children live with the fear that their dreams might just be killed with the outbreak of the pandemic and the fact that it is taking this long time to be curbed or to get a cure.

  “In as much as I try to take care of my children and protect them from contracting this virus, I hear they’re not so at risk of dying from the virus because of their immunity, so I worry about my husband and I. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be the carrier of the virus but like I said earlier, I am just more scared for my husband and I” a mother who identified herself as Mrs. Adaobi claims.

  In the light of children’s fear for the death of their dreams, the governor of Anambra State, Gov. Willie Obiano in a special message to mark the Children’s Day, signed by James Eze, his Chief Press Secretary, stated that the future of the Anambra child was paramount to him and assured that in spite of the abrupt closure of schools caused by COVID-19, the dreams of Anambra children would still flourish under a new threshold of hope.

  “Every child has a dream. Every child wants to grow up and become a professional and build a rewarding career. But when they cannot go to school because of this COVID-19, they are naturally worried about the future. However, in Anambra State, we have been working hard to bridge that gap with our Teaching-on-Air Programme which the state Ministry of Basic Education runs in collaboration with the Anambra Broadcasting Service. We have also encouraged quite a number of schools to migrate their classes to online platforms. These efforts will definitely arrest the slide caused by the closure of schools in response to COVID-19,” Governor Obiano explained.

  On the issue of parenting and childcare amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs. Chidinma Felicia Ezenwa said, “I am a teacher and a mother of three, I’ve not resumed work because of the pandemic neither have my children resumed school. It’s different being a parent at this period with lots of directives from the government, NCDC and other health bodies to always wash your hands with soap and runny water, keep social distance and the rest which my children cannot do on their own. That’s extra work for me and my husband; we have to help them adhere to those instructions. I do not leave my children alone at home unless on few occasions when I’d want to go to the market which is just a stone throw from the house to get something and those times, my husband is around so I know they’re safe and secured.

  “It’s not easy being a parent, not to talk of now that there’s a pandemic and businesses just reopened. I’ve not been working for almost four months, so we’ve been feeding on our savings. It’s been difficult economically; it’s not good for one to spend money and not make money.”

  She went further to say, “for the case of their academics, my husband is educated too, so when I don’t teach them, he does and we grade them; it’s like normal schooling just that they aren’t with their peers in the four walls of a classroom.”

  Moreover, some students are mostly home without their parents who are either out to sort out other businesses or out to make money for the family, allowing students time to engage in various activities; some not relating to their academics. “My dad isn’t always at home. Mom goes to shop too and returns in the evening. My siblings and I read, chit chat, watch TV when there’s power supply and press our phones when there’s no power supply.

  “Other times, my sister and I teach my younger brother. I teach him maths while my sister teaches him any other subject he has questions on. We all try to keep safe and adhere to the instructions of NCDC whilst we’re home. Our parents do the same too whenever they return”, Prayz claims.

  For the children that have been engaged in online classes, not all can handle the dynamics. Even in this modern age, not everyone can handle Information Communication Technologies. Some age grades find it hard to handle the dynamics too without getting distracted, Mrs. Nnenne Ekechukwu points out. “My children’s school decided to teach them through n online platforms which is good idea but not everyone can handle these devices; not everyone has enough data for these classes. Three of my children can handle it on their own; but the fourth one still needs assistance in handling the device. Lucky enough, I work from home. Imagine children with parents not at home, they’d get distracted or even frustrated. Another challenge however, would be isolated method of learning. As humans, we are meant for socialisation, so not seeing their friends is challenging.”

  She further said, “if a child does not have data, he misses out on a class which isn’t helping. Schools should device a means to get to all her students.”

  Parents and students have been praying that schools resumes and everything goes back to normal again. Students complain of the psychological effects of the closure of schools and  still acknowledge the fact that the pandemic also brought with it an opportunity to learn new things. “Some parents wish school to reopens. They don’t even care if the virus is still out there; they just want their children in school, learning with their mates. I also want to return to school to learn but this pandemic has also awarded me enough time to learn the things I have always wanted to learn online- graphics, complete my online classes and do other things normal school time wouldn’t have allowed me,” Okonkwo Charles Great, a university student claims.

  For some students, this is their first experience of online teaching while for some, it’s not. In some public schools, students take their online teaching via the radio and television provided free by state government while in private schools, they pay for the service by purchasing data and in some cases, new phones or laptops.

  Parents with two or more children are accounting for the cost of buying data, Android phones and in some cases, laptops for online classes. Students however insist that  physical contacts are better as teachings are clearer and they get to see their friends.

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