Lockdown through the eyes of our children and teenagers

Let’s just reflect for a moment on how and what has happened to children at school during this lockdown…

One Friday in March they came home from school as normal. Two days later their normal was shaken by the countrywide Covid-19 State of Emergency, and the subsequent closure of all public schools.
Closure was “until further notice”. That became six months of uncertainty, six months of not seeing their friends, six months of fear and anxiety. Children realised the dangers associated with Covid-19 and were worried about their parents leaving home for work. Leaving for work and being exposed to contracting a deadly virus and possibly dying.
It was especially the children of frontline workers like health workers and other critical staff functions whose children had the biggest fears.

At home, children were further exposed to the dreads of the pandemic, as Covid-19 for months dominated news channels around the world.  In September schools reopened, and face-to-face learning commenced. Despite, young people and children (much like us adults) are still uncertain, unsure and in doubt of their safety and expectations. For many there are mixed reactions. They are happy that everything returns to normal, but the dangers still remain.
The children have a need for answers and for constant reassurances.
They need to under-stand what changed this world, how it changed and what can be expected from the future.
For those who are in the senior year of school (grade 7’s at primary school, and grades 11 and 12 at high schools) another dimension of uncertainty has transpired. They could not celebrate these mile-stones in their lives in the ways pre-Covid. Matric farewells were dotted with strict Co-vid-19 measures like the wearing of masks, social distancing and limits on the number of people that could attend.

These are the kids who did not get the time to be prefects as schools were closed, kids who did not get their farewell celebrations, who did not get their school tour for seniors, their special school uniform and matric jackets.
To us as grown-ups these things may seem trivial, but to a young person who has been imagining and build-ing a mental picture for years, the reality of 2020 (not being granted the opportunity to do it) does not match what they expected.
They are left with feelings of disappointment, unfairness, anger, denial, depression which lead to a loss of control and helplessness and hopelessness.

By Gail Taukuheke (District social worker at the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Walvis Bay)

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