Rizwan Mehsud

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Shahzaib was a brilliant student and fond of going to his school every day until his school was closed due to coronavirus and then his habits started changing and he made friendship with mobile phone game PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) and now he is not willing to go back to school.

Hailing from Dera Ismail Khan, Shahzaib is among the millions of students who had to sit at home after closure of schools in March this year and now they have become so lethargic that the idea of return to school is like a nightmare for them. It is a headache for parents as children have stopped their academic activities for the last six months and they are not meeting friends either, so bringing them back to the school routine is a difficult task.

Due to specific geographic importance of DI Khan being on the border of provinces, a huge quarantine centre was set up in the district at Gomal Medical College to look after the coronavirus patients from the district and pilgrims coming back from Iran. Effective measures were taken in the district, having a population of 1.6 million, for preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Umair said while talking to TNN that DI Khan was on frontline in war against coronavirus and the pilgrims coming through Taftan border were also provided checkup and treatment facilities in the district to prevent the spread of the virus to other provinces. He said the government’s strategy in DI Khan worked well and the disease was stopped from spreading to the rest of the country to a great extent.

Eminent psychologist Dr Munir Dawar said coronavirus did not affect the children as it affected the grown up people. However, he said, there were some effects on children in shape of anxiety or stress, but the situation improved with passage of time and now things are going towards normalcy rapidly.

Dr Munir said parents need to be soft towards children while sending them school after a long gap. He told TNN that some children may be reluctant to go to school as they are no longer used to it, but parents must not deal with them strictly as it may prove counterproductive. He said the people of erstwhile Fata also suffered a lot due to terrorism and now coronavirus was a second test for them from which they are coming out successfully. He said the establishment of counselling centres in KP, particularly in merged tribal districts, is imperative to bring people out of stressful situation. He said there is no counselling centre in merged districts and people from these areas come to him in DI Khan for treatment.

Qayyum, principal at a private school, said implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for children in schools will be a challenging task.

District Education Officer (DEO) Musarrat Hussain said he is visiting different schools on daily basis to make sure the implementation of SOPs. He said special training has been provided to teachers to ensure implementation of SOPs like handwashing, wearing of facemasks and social distancing etc.

Children Specialist Dr Qamarun Nisa said coronavirus lockdown affected physical and mental growth of children as they stopped sports activities and studies and indulged into the use of mobile phones, tablets and laptops. She said that diet of many children was also affected as parents’ income was reduced during lockdown and inflation increased. She said all these aspects need to be covered to bring back children towards full normal routine.