New Delhi: With queries ranging from when schools will reopen to how one should safeguard themselves against coronavirus and keep children engaged at home, psychological counsellors employed at several private schools across Delhi-NCR are flooded with distressed calls round the clock from students and parents who are worried about the COVID-19 situation amid a 21-day nationwide lockdown.
The classes at schools were suspended two weeks before the lockdown was announced and exams were postponed. With several teaching and learning activities moving online, many students and parents are worried about the uncertainty as they follow daily news.
According to various school authorities, the counsellors who are providing counselling services either through phone or video conferencing are also doing it from their respective homes and have been asked to not follow any time schedule to ensure maximum queries are answered for students and parents to remain at peace.
"Since the counsellor is also working from home, the students are able to communicate only by phone or on virtual platforms such as online conferencing and WhatsApp. The most common queries are related to board examinations and results. Parents often call to enquire about commencement of the new academic session and periodic test schedules," Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal, Delhi Public School, Rajnagar Extension, Ghaziabad said.
"Parents and students also want to know that even if the threat of infection is relatively less when they resume school there will always be fear of the virus returning. So, they are asking us how the school will make provisions for social distancing and how many students will be accommodated per classroom," she added.
Ameeta Mohan, Principal, Amity International School, Pushp Vihar, said, "Parents are being counselled about how to keep the children busy at home. For this purpose, online links for extra reading material are being provided. Parents are being advised about indoor games and activities. Students have been calling with queries related to academics."
"From do's and don'ts to deal with the pandemic effectively, to new hobbies that can be pursued during the lockdown period and queries about how to motivate students to read books and help their parents with household chores, are also being received," said Nidhi Bansal, Pro-Vice Chairperson, Pacific World School-Greater Noida.
Noor Sinha, Counsellor, Shiv Nadar School, Noida is receiving queries about handling boredom at home and how to help those impacted due to lockdown including daily wage workers and homeless people.
"Senior students have called with concerns of seeing their parents visibly stressed with businesses being impacted and the situation. They have shared their anxiety about the efficacy of the measures taken and how to manage staying at home and its implication on routine, mood and weight," she said.
According to Priyanka Barara, Principal, Delhi International School, Rohini, "The school counsellor is receiving around 20 queries every day. Interestingly, a lot more are from parents who need advice to keep their children maintain their physical and mental health. Students of the age group 14-17 have queries related to coronavirus worries and confinement. The students who will be appearing in the board exam next year are also anxious about how they will cope with the curriculum."
Most of the queries coming across are related to precautions and tips. With so many rumours doing rounds on social media, people are bound to get anxious. Students are anyway in their developing years, so their worries are genuine. We try to conduct our counselling sessions on a lighter note," said Sangeeta Hajela, Principal, DPS Indirapuram.
"The principles of privacy are kept intact throughout. The involvement of parents is also very crucial to these sessions, although the students are given full liberty to hold a one-on-one session with the counsellor as well," she added.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also launched a telephone helpline to make students aware about how to protect themselves and others by following the guidelines, how to get on with studies at home and how to plan their days effectively.
According to the Union health ministry, the death toll in India due to COVID-19 climbed to 25 on Sunday with a total of 979 cases so far.