PEOPLE SHOULD heed the call of Minister of National Security Stuart Young to keep children at home. While coming to grips with the covid19 situation is no child’s play for anyone involved, and many will be struggling to adjust to being stuck at home, parents and guardians must resist the temptation to leave home premises for recreation.
Children are vulnerable on many fronts. Though covid19 has been shown to affect mainly adults, and though children are likely to experience milder symptoms, there have been cases of death reported internationally. Further, there is a lot still to be learned about this disease and how it impacts the young, particularly those with underlying medical conditions.
The picture is complicated by the fact that for many children the concept of social distancing is one that does not come naturally. Add to this the unprecedented disruption in routines, with school and vacation time now thrown into disarray; the tensions in some households caused by domestic issues; changes in exercise levels; changes in diet; and the overall loss of structure – and this period becomes a particularly stressful time for minors.
We should not add to the problems by being irresponsible. Sneaking out for a quick sweat in a nearby park might seem like a good idea. But in doing so parents not only jeopardise the well-being of their charges and themselves, they also set a bad example. What kind of signal is sent when, in these extraordinary circumstances, adults take it upon themselves to break the law because they feel nobody is looking? That’s not civic responsibility. That’s being reckless.
Instead, adults need to focus on taking specific steps at home to protect children. These include cleaning hands often, avoiding anyone with symptoms, disinfecting tough surfaces daily, and laundering items. In terms of mental well-being, it’s back to basics, utilising tried and tested forms of stress-relief. Parents or caretakers need to maintain structure, should stay in touch with educators, and should try to make home learning fun.
Now is also the time to remain socially connected with relatives and friends via phone or video chats. There should be indoor physical activity, and careful monitoring for symptoms such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhoea have also been reported in childhood covid19 cases.
Meanwhile, the State has been presented with an opportunity to reconsider longstanding assessment methods. There have long been calls for the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination to be reformed or abolished. The announcement that this year’s examination has to be pushed back should trigger deeper consideration of these matters. Let at least one good thing come out of the covid19 crisis. Let it usher in a new form of assessment that does not hinge on a traumatic, some say barbaric, exam This, most will agree, is no child’s play.