Picture: MaxPixel.
Picture: MaxPixel.

OPINION: Loneliness will be an issue as we seek to control Covid-19 spread

By Simon Crane Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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As we embark upon a new chapter in our school’s life, we must be careful. In the move towards delivering an effective and rigorous online curriculum, the biggest danger will not be bandwidth or other tech issues, but rather personal ones.

I spoke to a dear colleague, Hannah Uys, on the last day of school and we were both feeling somewhat sombre as we stood in the middle of a crowd of teenagers who were about to go home for seven weeks.

It was a peculiar realisation that drew our attention to just what we got into teaching for. We became teachers to spend our days with young people. And the prospect of working online, while exciting in the novelty stage of today, will certainly wear thin pretty quickly for many of us who are used to, and who thrive on, the jostling teenagers that bounce around us during our working days.

It will become increasingly important, in the days ahead, to maintain the personal touch.

The curriculum, while undoubtedly important, should not be our first prize. The young woman who needs to be with her friends on the hockey field and who is now home alone will feel this acutely. The young man who makes his mates laugh during breaks will be bereft of this avenue to happiness.

On that last day, I felt the absence of the pupils most vividly as I walked in from my car towards the office and greeted no one.

Ironically, as we seek to not pass this virus on, our biggest problem might just be loneliness and isolation. Let’s ensure we send those voice notes and those photographs. Let’s put relationships first. People count.

Crane is the deputy head of Hebron College.

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