An academic year is defined as the duration of time used to measure the amount of syllabus covered in one year by the schools, colleges and universities. It defines the progression of a student at the end and sums up the need for improvement. Missing an academic year is a great loss for a student. However, standing in the year 2020, the concept of an academic year is very different from how we had known it for the past years. The pandemic known as Covid-19 or corona-virus has taken over the world and literally made our lives motionless. The pandemic originated from Wuhan, China and it was first identified in December 2019. It has gradually spread all over the world and interrupted our lifestyle to a great extent. The corona-virus spreads from person to person during close contact through small droplets while coughing, sneezing or talking. Recent findings have suggested that the virus can also spread through air over a long distance. It causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infecting the lungs. It is very contagious and can be caught even from the people who do not show any symptoms. The symptoms include fatigue, cough, fever, shortness of breath and even loss of smell. It can also spread by touching a contaminated surface or an object and then touching their face. There are still no vaccines or any known treatment found to recover from this virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared this outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30th January, 2020 and a pandemic on 11th March. More than 16.9 million cases of corona-virus have been reported all over the world and deaths of more than 666000 have been recorded so far. But looking at the bright side, more than 9.91 million have recovered from this disease. Since there are no known treatments found, certain preventive measures are recommended that can help us with this outbreak. The measures include wearing a face mask ( which can prevent the droplets from spreading while talking, coughing or sneezing) in public, using hand gloves (that prevents us from touching a contaminated surface directly), maintaining a certain distance from people (minimum of one metre recommended), washing our hands more frequently, using hand sanitizer and last but not the least “Stay home, Stay safe” is advised to everyone. Children and people over 60 years of age are more prone to getting infected.
Covid-19 pandemic has affected every educational system worldwide. All the educational institutions- schools, universities, colleges are shut down to minimize the spread. Even the offices that can provide with work from home are shut down for a longer period of time. Due to a drastic fall in the economy, some offices were bound to open but the educational institutions remained closed. The students were detached from the studies, all the examinations of schools, semesters and admission tests were postponed for an uncertain period of time. Students who were taking the board exams suffered the most. The toddlers or the kid who joined school for the first time had to take a step back. The concerned authorities of schools and colleges decided to start online education to minimize the problems. All the classes, even after four months of lockdown, are still being taken by different teachers over video calls, whatsapp, or through other online platforms. For a country like India, being the second most populous country after China, it has become difficult for everyone to attend online classes The teachers are becoming the victims as well. Online classes are restraining them in having a proper interaction with the students. Not many students can attend the classes at once. The classes are often interrupted by poor network connection. Private teachers are basically jobless at this point of time since no salaries are being provided. Online classes have restricted the bonding of the students with each other. Since the lockdown, the children are devoid of any outdoor activity. They have to sit in front of the computer all day, since everything takes place online. This is affecting the eyesight of the children. At this point returning to the classroom will be difficult, since many students are getting more and more comfortable at home and lethargic day by day, but it is important. The kids who are just starting schools need a place to play and study simultaneously. The environment that a classroom can provide is not available elsewhere.
Parents and educators are having a hard time coping up in this daily life digital environment. Most of the parents are currently working from home. Having a kid around is slowing their work life. Often a video conference is interrupted by a kid and because of their boredom, the parents have to keep them company all the time. Children have a hard time staying at one place for a long time. They are restless and it is difficult for the parents to make them attend online classes. The parents of the students, who have just given their board exams are suffering from their children’s uncertain future. The colleges and universities have either postponed the semester or canceled it, both of which are equally harmful. Postponing a semester will affect their quality of studies and canceling it will be a great loss for their future. Postponing of many entrance exams have added to the loss in their academic year. The educators are also facing daily challenges of increasing pressure to teach the children with little access to the right technologies. They are scared of returning to schools after the lockdown where they may have to face the fact that many students have either dropped out or fallen behind. This pandemic has created both psychological and physical stress for everyone. Lack of physical activities during lockdown has contributed to increasing different health issues. The eyesight is mostly affected since everyone has to spend hours in front of computers, laptops and cell phones. We can only hope this pandemic will be over as soon as possible so that everyone can go back to their normal life and all educational institutions and services can function accordingly.