A few days before our Ministry of Health went public with Zambia’s first confirmed Covid-19 case in mid-March they announced that all schools were to close as a precaution. At this time my anxiety levels were already on a high as I had been watching how the pandemic was spreading around the globe on my phone. With the school closure announced I felt like everything came crushing down and I had to ignore the new recommendations of social distancing to hug a friend and cry on a shoulder (in town centre in the middle of the day…). Somehow once we knew Covid had arrived in the country I felt as if my anxiety dropped, like “it’s here, now what?”.
I had my four children back at home and they needed to get on with school in its new format. Google classroom has proven to be a very useful tool in these times. I had three of my kids logged in from two different schools. However, with daily 6-8 hour power cuts and poor network this was already a challenge. After the long April break we came back to online school in a more organised way, the teachers had spent the past 4 weeks preparing and training and the children were now to attend actual live classes. If only technology could be of use instead of an obstacle! Trying to get three children connected to live classes all at once was simply too much for my phone hotspot (airtel) to handle, I got a mifi (mobile router) that only gave me more grey hairs. I then spent the whole of May pulling my hair out over slow internet, long power cuts (running a generator just to keep the laptops going), trying to keep everybody on track and focused. My oldest son had also changed schools in the middle of this and he needed a little daily motivational speech from me, or simply put, we argued a lot!
Somehow we still managed to keep up. But it took my full attention. On 1st June my oldest two were able to return to actual schools as examination classes (gr 7, 9&12) were given the go ahead to go back. My oldest couldn’t wait, the home school format wasn’t for him, while my daughter actually hoped for schools to remain closed as she was enjoying it (being a very diligent and disciplined student!). I’m left with my 10 and 7 year old sons at home and I’m finally enjoying it. I’ve even contemplated keeping my youngest at home until he goes to boarding school (he is in a day school) but he has told me he misses school so much, he is a social butterfly after all.
These past month have given us a lot to be grateful for in the middle of a global pandemic, we have had the kids at home for 10 weeks straight, I’ve been hands on with their learning, and they have managed to keep up despite not being at school. Yes, I did almost throw both the mifi and my laptop out the window a couple of times, and I’ve had almost daily mini-meltdowns, but the kids have manage to keep on track. Now we will enjoy an extended mid term break (two weeks! I think the teachers are tired too…) and then pull through what is left of this term, surely schools will be back to normal in September!?
I must also add that there has been a silver lining to all of this and that has been that the children has had time to do so much besides school, anything from building houses in the bush to rearing ducklings and adopting piglets, growing veggies and going fishing. There was also a lot of bonding taking place and we even got into a habit of taking morning jogs/walks together.