COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. It has affected everyone including businessmen, nine-to-five employees, retailers, teachers, students, farmers, and people from any profession. No one has been left unaffected by this deadly pandemic. Schools are closed, teachers are providing online classes, and there is a great chance that the upcoming summer vacation will be cancelled to make up the time lost and complete the syllabus on time.
“Although schools have started online classes and homeschooling, there is no reason to give holidays during summer”, told the principal of a high school. He also said that the syllabus is behind schedule as examinations are postponed, so to complete the course on time, it is necessary that students attend online classes during summer also. It is not yet clear how those schools will complete the syllabus on time, but one thing is clear that 2020 is going to be a nightmare for many students and teachers.
No provision for online classes
In India, more than 60 per cent population lives in rural areas and places where there is no proper internet connectivity. Thanks to the cheap data plan and inexpensive smartphones, even rural people are now connected to the Internet. But smartphones don’t offer the same capacity to connect or engage in online learning that computers or even tablets offer. In that case, students are not able to fully utilize the benefits of online classes.
Even though some schools are running online classes and providing lessons on WhatsApp or other digital platforms, it is not the case with all the schools, especially in rural areas and tier-3 cities. Even in metropolitan areas like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, and Kolkata, many teachers have reported that a lot of kids are absent for the online classes that are being held in place of regular classes. In most cases, this is in areas that lack connectivity and in communities that are economically challenged. This means many schools and districts will have to plan interventions for children who’ve fallen behind in their studies.
So, no summer vacation during Covid-19!
We can’t ignore the fact that summer vacation may be gone for good this year. School summer breaks will be affected by COVID-19, but there have already been so many leaves and holidays because of the lockdown. As the famous virologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Anthony Fauci has stated, “You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”
School closures are not a choice but a compulsion for administration as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc among people. The decision to cancel summer vacation in 2020 should be left upon school administration and district officials. If they think there is no need for cancelling summer vacation, they can do so provided that the syllabus is completed on time.
Summer vacation: How it all started?
There was no such thing as summer vacation prior to 1900s. Schools remained open year-round but there was a considerable drop in the attendance of students during summer months. At that time, no one knew what air-conditions are, so people used to go to the countryside to spend summer months.
As urbanization increased and the population grew, the hotter months only grew hotter. The school houses were also extremely hot and probably felt like an oven as AC was not invented yet.
Laws were being passed to form the eight-hour workday and labor unions. Decision-makers began to discuss the matter and eventually agreed that students should not go to school year-round “because it could strain their brains”. The summer vacation also allowed teachers to work on their on-education requirements and training. Also, it cut expenses of schools on maintenance, so the idea of school closings was welcomed with an open heart.
This way, the concept of summer vacation cropped up. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, summer learning loss will be maintained by cancelling summer vacation.
Summer vacation: Good or Bad?
It is a debatable topic whether summer vacation is beneficial or harming society. A large group of teachers, principals, parents, and children believe strongly that long summer vacation hurts children, fragments education, and wastes tax money.
It is true that by merely sitting for more hours in the classroom does not guarantee that students will learn more but after a long summer vacation, teachers often spend weeks just reminding kids of what they forgot over the summer. So summer learning is just as important as studies in any other seasons.
At the same time, some parents feel that short school years and long summer vacations are essential to growing up. They believe that it helps students relax and grasp concepts efficiently.
Even if the schools cancel summer vacation this year, it will not be a permanent thing. School administration may consider continuing in the summer as an option to remediate students prior to the start of regular classes after the end of ongoing lockdown in the country. However, it is unlikely that schools will decide to continue with year-round schooling in future years.