No doubt matric is both an exciting and yet a very stressful year in every learner’s life, but never in a million years could anyone have predicted that the matric class of 2020 would face the additional challenges and stresses brought on by the Corona Virus. This will, without a doubt, be the most memorable year in everyone’s life, but more so for the matric learners.
Many were probably excited when the schools initially closed in March and welcomed the early holiday and the fact that they wouldn’t need to wake up early for some time to come. No-one expected that they would be out of school until the second week of June. In the depths of the uncertainty regarding the resumption of the academic year, the learners faced another hurdle – distance learning, which varied from study packs physically distributed by the schools, online classes and tasks issued and submitted through various online classes. This required a different kind of adaptation, time management became a skill they needed to cultivate by hook or by crook. Managing their time wisely as they navigate the various online platforms, deal with network issues, sharing of devices in some households and at times still balancing the ever present household chores. Worse still for some, this meant being left behind as they don’t have access to devices or data required for on-line learning.
News of the re-opening of schools brought another mixed bag of emotions: excitement and expectations that the return to school would provide a sense of “normalcy” for these students and on the other hand, fear of exposure to the virus from other learners, teachers and even while being transported to school.
Back at school nothing even came close to normal. From the daily checking of temperatures, masks worn throughout the day, frequent sanitising of hands and surfaces, the social distancing, the absence of the learners and teachers who are unable return to school due to comorbidities, the new methods of learning implemented, resources used and even new teachers employed was anything but normal.
It is without a doubt that the regular reports of schools being closed down as a result of corona virus infections; petitions circulating for schools to close in an attempt to protect learners and teacher; conflicting reports about the vulnerability of youths to corona virus infections; the general uncertainty around the academic year and the future ahead, pose an additional negative effect on the mental and emotional states of our youth and do nothing to reduce their already heightened stress levels.
The Corona Virus Pandemic is not going away any time soon, some reports even state that we may be faced with the pandemic and its effects for years to come. This means that all of these stressful factors are here to stay. This calls for all of us to become flexible and to continuously adapt to the many changes and challenges that this will continue to impose on us.
As much as we are all working on navigating our way through this pandemic in the best way possible, we need to spare a thought for all of our youth, but more especially for those in matric. They are under a bigger and brighter spotlight than usual. All of the coping and managing skills they continue to cultivate as they navigate through this pandemic will equip them for adult life post the Corona Virus. We need to capacitate and support them in order to enable them to navigate through these challenges, help them to find positives in the midst of these uncertain and stressful times and help them in building a legacy of having resiliently navigated matric and life, successfully through the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the future.
MISA proudly supports learners in Grades 10-12 through the MISA School Support Benefit.
We wish all of the matric learners of 2020 all of the best with their studies.