Music without an instrument. Gym without teammates. Science without experiments.
School during the COVID-19 crisis is simply not the same for 13-year-old Kareena Persaud. After two months working from home, the Grade 8 student’s ready to go back to the classroom.
“I would say I miss going out, and I really miss the fact that at school I was distracted from this giant pandemic,”Persaud told HuffPost Canada from her Richmond Hill, Ont. bedroom. “I just had to keep [focused] on school.”
Schools across Canada have been closed since mid-March in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Teachers have been assigning work online, but Persaud misses asking questions in class and participating in group assignments.
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Persaud said she’s sad that she and her peers won’t be sailing cardboard boats in a pool for science class, or playing badminton or the flute anytime soon. Instead she’s stuck with music theory homework and running.
On Monday, thousands of Quebec students returned to schools, but they’ll spend most of their time at their desks and are expected to stay two-metres apart. Staff are wearing masks and face shields, and libraries, playgrounds, computer labs, gyms and cafeterias are closed.
Persaud doesn’t mind going back with these changes, even if it was for 30 minutes a day, she said. She misses stopping by the ice cream truck and hanging out with her friends, a lot.
“Skype is very long distance,” Persaud said. “We’re used to being near each other, side by side talking and in a group together.”
Persaud’s sentiments are echoed by kids across the country.
A recent Angus Reid Institute poll found 71 per cent of children aged 10 to 17 are bored at home and 54 per cent said they miss not seeing their friends. The study surveyed 650 children May 1 to 4.
While 75 per cent of respondents said they’re keeping up with school, about 60 per cent are feeling unmotivated and don’t like learning from home. Thirty-six per cent of kids said they were looking forward to returning to school this spring, and 38 per cent said “it’s OK.” The rest didn’t want to go back.
Alexandra Sipos-Kocsis said she’s noticed a change in her two children Blythe, 6, and Wolf, 5, who are more lethargic than when they’re attending school and learning in real life, instead of through a screen.
“When they’re outside, they’re happy, but they have a lack of motivation,” Sipos-Kocsis said, noting how difficult it is for her and her husband to keep two young children occupied while working from home.
“They need us to be there for their learning. There’s no independence.”
Blythe said while she enjoys walking the dog and solving the math problems her father writes down for her everyday, she wants to go back to school.
“Normally I’m with all my friends,” she said. “I miss being with them everyday.”
The first activity she’ll do when parks reopen is swing.
“It’s freezing out there,” said Wolf, echoing the sentiment of Ontarians everywhere, before running off to make Wacky Mac (the Kosher version of Kraft Dinner).
He’s stopped participating in Zoom calls with his junior kindergarten class, said Sipos-Kocsis. “It was really hard for him” to interact with 20, five-year-olds and his teacher on a screen. “So we gave up on those,” she said.
The vast majority of kids polled — 88 per cent — are filling their time watching TV, Netflix or YouTube, followed closely by playing video games, calling or texting friends, spending time on social media and going for walks.
Like Wolf, Persaud has turned to the kitchen, cooking Indian dishes for her family and is now looking to other countries for inspiration.
“I’m very adventurous,” Persaud said. “I know I couldn’t stick to one country, so I decided to expand out. I love Souvlaki, so why not?”
She said the Greek food turned out “really good.” Next on the menu is either Ethiopian or French.