The lockdown period was long, tiring and everyone was unsure about what was happening around them. This pandemic changed our lives forever, with many questions left unanswered: when will school open again; will we be able to visit friends and family soon; will we have to wear masks for ever and will life ever be the same again? The dates on which schools would open again, kept changing. No one was sure and online teaching and learning continued.
The teachers came back to empty, cold classrooms, missing the routine rowdiness in the mornings. Even the girls who complained about the work were missing the school, teachers and their friends.
After two months, however, the learners are back! The first day was filled with uncertainty and scepticism about how the day would work and if all the work had to be done, but after the principal’s speech about keeping clean and how nice it was to have the girls back, the cold morning became a lot warmer.
The girls were screened, sanitized, and sent to their classrooms. The desks were spaced one meter from each other and hands were sanitized again when they came in. Although it was strange at first, it became their new routine. While the Grade 7s and 12s were settling in, the rest of the girls were at home, in their beds. As one of the girls who came back first, it was trying to see siblings sleeping late while we were freezing outside, but it proved to be worth it. The two grades got used to the protocol and along with social distancing and masks, abnormal was starting to become normal.
After a terrible cold front, Grade 9s,11s, and the Foundation Phase came back. More learners on the campus made it feel like a St Michael’s family again, and the Grade 12s and 7s were expected to set an example for the others, showing them that there was no reason to be afraid.
Learners’ feelings about online teaching and learning differ from loving it to cringing at the sound of it, but even those who want to stay at home are glad to be back.