COVID ah mash up mi life!

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Edi­tor,

The school term has just of­fi­cially started, and al­ready par­ents and teach­ers are drown­ing in de­spair. The global pan­demic has not only forced us to live like her­mits, but it has thrown us over­board into a sea of men­tal an­guish.

It’s bad enough that we have to cope with daily chal­lenges, let alone the added task of on­line classes.

Please, do not get me wrong, I am in to­tal agree­ment with keep­ing our chil­dren at home, but what I was not pre­pared for is the con­stant face-off with tech­nol­ogy, on­line classes, plus hav­ing to juggle it with work-from-home obli­ga­tions.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has taken the step to pro­vide schools, par­tic­u­larly gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions, with an e-mail ad­dress for each child in or­der to ac­cess Google Class­room daily, but this has not gone with­out its var­i­ous chal­lenges.

Let me say in no un­cer­tain terms that, so far, it has not been an easy road. At this point, we are now forced to call out the ser­vice providers, who seem to be un­able to meet the de­mands of the pub­lic, par­tic­u­larly, Flow and Ja­maica Pub­lic Ser­vice (JPS). Ev­ery day I spend hours re­con­nect­ing both my chil­dren to their re­spec­tive classes. And no sooner than I think the prob­lem has been re­solved, Flow has us all in tears from frus­tra­tion, as it seems we have to re­peat the con­nec­tion bat­tle at 10-minute in­ter­vals.

Then, in strolls JPS, who de­cides to cut the elec­tric­ity, not once, but twice in a day for un­known lengths of time. I am aware of par­ents and teach­ers who have lost hours due to this ac­tion.

Other is­sues, rang­ing from par­ents’ com­plaints of not un­der­stand­ing how to ac­cess the plat­form, de­spite var­i­ous schools of­fer­ing ses­sions to ed­u­cate us, to teach­ers plead­ing and begging for un­der­stand­ing, as they too nav­i­gate this ‘new world’, and the chil­dren be­ing un­able to con­trol them­selves and fight their lim­ited at­ten­tion spans. It’s all rather dis­heart­en­ing.

I know this is new to us, but there must be a way to stream­line this on­line learn­ing. It can­not be that when it’s time for school teach­ers are un­able to log on due to In­ter­net chal­lenges, or right in the mid­dle of school stu­dents are be­ing dis­con­nected.

Oh, how I miss the days when I could walk freely in my house and speak when­ever, and say what­ever I wanted to. Now it’s hushed tones re­placed by voices of chil­dren in class; voices I my­self dreaded and thanked God that I stayed clear of that pro­fes­sion. That noise and con­fu­sion, cou­pled with par­ents cussing and fuss­ing in the back­ground or walk­ing half-naked into the feed has me trau­ma­tised.

And yes, I could pro­vide my chil­dren with ear­phones, but that too has its neg­a­tive, since I need to be aware of their par­tic­i­pa­tion in class and lis­ten in as well, as there are times the au­dio on the teach­ers’ end is off.

In time we will be left with a so­ci­ety suf­fer­ing from se­ri­ous men­tal dis­or­ders by the time COVID-19 chooses to take its leave, at which point we will be deal­ing with the chal­lenge of how to suc­cess­fully rein­te­grate into ‘nor­mal so­ci­ety’.

Un­til then, I am speak­ing on be­half of many par­ents out there: Help!

Jan­ice JR Mother of two Kingston 10

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