Mental Health

How city schools helped students cope with the emotional scars of the pandemic

Suha Roy and Aditi Dey Roy
Suha Roy and Aditi Dey Roy
Posted on 12 Dec 2021
12:33 PM
Schools did their best to keep students engaged and relaxed while they were forced to stay away from the campus.

Schools did their best to keep students engaged and relaxed while they were forced to stay away from the campus. Source: Shutterstock

Some schools held one-on-one student and parent sessions online to understand what is bothering the child
Some have held virtual events to keep students motivated

Students have been among the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic -- having to deal with abrupt school closure and then distant, online classes. Being cut off from friends, barely venturing out of home, their anxiety levels soared.

As students returned to school, several schools shared with Edugraph how they tried to help students deal with feelings of uncertainty, depression, frustration and bereavement that the virus-induced isolation has brought on.


Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School

There were online group counselling sessions on Google Meet from Class I onwards, where students participated along with their parents. Every week, different topics like time management, anger management, depression, and so on were taken up. Individual sessions were conducted as well, for both parents and students.

“We prepared questions and conducted a psychometric test to analyse the student before taking any further steps. Personality test, aptitude test and IQ tests were also conducted according to the requirement of the child. This helped us understand the child’s problem better,” said Dola Majumder (Das), school counsellor, clinical psychologist and special educator of Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School.

Making it compulsory for the students to keep their video on during online classes helped the teachers monitor the children’s activity or any change in behaviour. Teachers reported immediately if there was something unusual and steps were taken accordingly.

Sushila Birla Girls’ School

Sessions were conducted not just for students and teachers, but also for the directors and administrators as everyone was going through a tough phase. The school has a few specially abled children whose classes were taken on a one-on-one basis with special attention. “It was initially difficult to build that acceptance from the student’s side, but they gradually adapted to the change. This problem occurred with the pre-primary kids as well, for they have no experience of physical classes,” said Saswati Roy, senior special educator and consultant at Sushila Birla Girls’ School.

If a serious problem occurred with any child, the school formed a team comprising the subject teacher, class teacher, special educator and counsellor. “There were cases where the child was so reserved that she refused to open up in front of the teachers. Any teacher from the school she was comfortable with was also included in the committee so that the child could interact without any hesitation,” Roy said.

It was made mandatory for students to keep their cameras on throughout the classes and the teachers helped them in every possible way to cope up with the changed education platform. Webinars, panel discussions and sessions with counsellors also helped the students sail through.

The BSS School

It was quite a difficult phase for the teachers, counsellors and special educators during the beginning of the pandemic. No one knew that this was going to affect lives to such an extent. “Suddenly, when the nationwide lockdown was imposed, no one was equipped. All the teachers had to go through a training session and get themselves ready within a very short time. The teachers continuously helped students adjust to the new normal -- online classes. We also made sure that the screen time doesn’t exceed its optimum and prepared routines accordingly for all the classes,” said The BSS School principal Sunita Sen.

Apart from regular online events, the school hosted its international online debate, which had schools from the UK and the UAE participating as well. These events kept a large number of students busy and helped reduce their stress. The school assured help at every point to every student, be it for mental, emotional or financial stress.

Birla High School

During physical classes, students could see the counsellor during any free period. But that stopped during the pandemic. “It is more of the counsellor’s effort now. Previously, certain protocols were followed in the school after a counselling session. A follow-up routine was maintained in the school diary. However, now it is really difficult to keep track,” said Birla High School counsellor Joyeeta Mojumder.

The team of counsellors and special educators at the school tried their best to understand the anxieties and issues faced by the boys. Birla High School even had its virtual sports meet, LN Birla Memorial Debate and several other events to keep the students engaged. Regular interactions were limited in the online platform, but the school made sure the students were in touch with the curricular and co-curricular activities simultaneously.

La Martinière for Boys

The teaching body of La Martinière for Boys dealt with the students in a sensitive and relaxed manner. “The counselling cell was open from Monday to Friday for any calls from parents and students. Counselling or therapy sessions work better in a face-to-face scenario but we still tried to provide the best possible help,” said Ruvena Sanyal, the senior section counsellor of La Martinière for Boys.

The students got an opportunity to open up during the Value Education classes, conducted by school counsellors who make the young minds aware of various issues. The school also helped students who faced financial stress during the last academic session.

What other schools did:

WWA Cossipore English School teachers turned to music and other art forms during online classes to keep up the interest among students. Parents were asked to monitor behavioural changes in their wards without making it too obvious.

Aditya Academy Senior Secondary School counsellor Sweta Ghosh suggested that her students turn to journaling to help them have a medium to express their bottled emotions.

Last updated on 12 Dec 2021
12:33 PM
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