In phases which are marking a gradual return to normal business operations, different countries are selectively looking at what activities can safely open for business, yet trying to manage the spreading of coronavirus. The intent being that the economy ought to run at the same time as we try to safeguard the population from the precarious effects of COVID~19. Botswana is certainly on the same wavelength as she is embarking on easing-up restrictions that were meant to avoid a massive outbreak. We have since observed a return to normalcy in some services with precautionary measures aimed at avoiding a surge in new infections. Upon satisfaction of the laid out health guidelines, public and private schools will soon get back to business as well. The guidelines are a clear communication that coronavirus is far from going away soon, hence a coexistence with it is a reality we might as well embrace soonest.
Schooling in the era of COVID~19 will certainly come with some challenges, mainly emanating from the process of adapting to the new normal. Social distancing, general hygiene upkeep especially regularly washing of hands and wearing of masks, are some of the new basic standards which school environments must observe. Kids being kids, such standards are going to be treated with the level of carelessness expected at that age. The situation is going to be worsened by the excitement arousing from learners meeting each other after a long break. I can only imagine students at primary school getting excited over the shapes and colours of certain masks by their peers. In the moment of admiration for mask A and mask B, these learners are bound to exchange these masks as a way of having fun.
One of the key principle under corporative learning is ‘positive interdependence’. This refers to the process by which learners are encouraged to develop the sense that whenever they are faced with a situation, the resolve becomes much effective and easier when approached as a team. They need to understand that each members’ individual effort will not only help himself or herself, but rather the whole group/team will benefit. As we face the threat of COVID~19, the element of positive interdependence ought to be cultivated in students. If the concept is communicated well such that most students buy into the idea, then all COVID~19 health protocols shall follow suit smoothly. By and large, this is what will entail much of what teachers will be dealing with as a matter of public education in the early days of second term. We all know that inherent in the endeavour for public education, there exists tremendous sociological implications.
As teachers, we teach the whole shebang. ‘respect your elders, put other’s needs before your own, wait for your turn, say please and thank you, don’t waste, treat others as you would like them to treat you, physical violence is always wrong, don’t speak while others are speaking’. These mantras are ever on our lips during any school day. In the era of COVID~19, we surely are going to add to that list with statements or activities such as ‘ensuring proper mask covering and demonstration of proper hand-washing’. This will be repeated over and over again until it becomes part of a school culture. My appeal to fellow teachers is to have extended patience as I know them to be. Their warmth and good hearts towards their learners will have to be put to practice even more. It is commonly known that the role of a teacher is to educate the learners that have been placed in their care academically. True as that may sound, teachers’ role will be more than that this time around. Imagine cultivating and ensuring adherence to the practice of social distancing. This means availing ourselves all the times. To a great extent, we are going to forgo our entitlements for the betterment and safety of our learners. More than anything else, teachers will have to put to practice their parenting skills as we fight the coronavirus scourge. Together, we will triumph over COVID~19.