In the beginning of 2020, things were looking good; excitement of the new year, new grades, new resolutions, like all other years. Teachers and learners were laughing and shouting with excitement about seeing each other after school holidays. We were not aware that things would be turned upside down and that a black cloud was slowly approaching, covering the nation.
We were all blindsided when this pandemic attacked our country, and were still in denial which in turn took some time to realise that ‘this is real’.
Our school continued running until the announcement of total lockdown in the country. It was hard for both teachers and children, not knowing what it is going to be like if not at school. In fact, it was a horrible time that I could never have imagined in life.
We were shaken because of this and were forced to do things differently by working from home. It wasn’t easy because we didn’t have all resources that the teacher would need, but we had to keep the train moving for the benefit of our children.
It took us 3–4 months of being away from our learners. Those months were crucial for us, but we managed to pull through and we were back in the field by June. Since then, things were never the same again. We had to do things differently.
We had to wear masks, keep social distancing from each other and sanitize all the time. That was draining. You can imagine a child wanting to give a hug, and you stop the child from doing it. It was hard. Fear took place what the future holds for our children, our families and the whole nation. We were confused, traumatized, panicking and stressed because of this.
We also experienced fun days, something to cheer us up and forget about the pandemic. Especially when a 3-year-old boy made us laugh. Teaching and learning were taking place, the theme was about baby animals. Teacher was asking questions and individual answers came floating… baby duck-duckling, baby goose-gosling, and when teacher asked this boy, what is a baby sheep? Without hesitating, he said ‘is a sheeplet’. The boy was busy with other stuff but the ear was listening that every answer has that ‘-let’ at the end. So, he gave the correct answer! Interesting stories and participation inside the class can be fun and make you forget a little bit about what is happening outside the world, or that Covid exists.
At the end of 2020, teachers were so grateful that they managed to cover all school programmes through different challenges and difficult times that we have experienced on our journey.
Written by: Teacher Thembi on behalf of Happy Days ECD at GCF