We Are Open

Children in Patna going to school on auto-rickshaw (file photo).

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With complete lockdown in 3 stages there has been a vexing question on the government on how to reopen the economy and the education. The pandemic is still evolving and the government is brainstorming on how to gingerly reopen without the risk of reigniting the infection. There is also a pressing question for us on how prepared are we to work while still social distancing.

With social distancing being the new normal we are literally into a digital world, and hugely dependent on the robustness of digital infrastructure we are operating on. Whether its school's online classes, webinars, or online payment to remote working options we have turned into a digital economy unanticipatedly. Digital infrastructure which was once considered a luxury has become most essential for all of us. It's an unprecedented time for all whether an individual, an educational institute, companies, or government, and we all are posed with this difficult situation unequipped and trying to understand the pros and cons of it while sailing through it.

Most of the companies are operating in the remote working model and initially thought it to be a temporary measure but with lockdown getting extended in 3 phases it gave them a sense of treading water. With lockdown relaxation in phase 4 and starting of business as usual companies heaved a sigh of relieve. Now the organization needs to chalk out plans on how the work culture will be in this new normal. They need to conceptualize the idea of having a new work environment to keep a balance on government guidelines, employee welfare, and business goals.

During COVID lockdown many companies have realized that location flexibility has brought in a big boost to productivity. Post COVID we might see companies having operational models emphasizing the effectiveness of remote working models. Working in shifts and partial work from home can be a good way to implement social distancing in work environment.

Another area of big concern is reopening the schools while the pandemic is still unrestrained. Kids are at higher risk to get the disease and closure of schools is a good idea to contain the outbreak of the disease. However, the downside of it is stated by UNESCO that extended school closure might have a lasting impact on students.

Shutting down of schools has led to social isolation for kids, it was a centre for social activities and interaction for them daily. Online classes and teaching kids at home are intensely stressful for parents and teachers. Distance learning is a new concept for many institutes and is turning out to be messy and frustrating with the best of attempts. Schools need to work on ways to reopen, access to clean water and soap, social distancing, having double shifts, and emphasizing a blend of remote and on-campus learning could be a few areas to work on as suggested by UNESCO.

Life after lockdown is not going to be easy and also not going to be the same as it used to be. The virus is still amongst us and we have to craft our lives around social distancing and innovative means to protect ourselves from infection. Let’s restart our lives avoiding social gathering in any form and staying at home as far as possible, we must work together to stop any second wave of coronavirus spread in our country.

Kaweri MishraKaweri Mishra is a freelance writer. Originally from Darbhanga, she grew up in the IOCL township of Begusarai and is currently a resident of Bangalore.


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