Early February, I started to worry about friends and family living in different parts of China because the news coming out of Wuhan seemed so awful. At this point, like everyone else, I had no idea how this would go on to have such a major impact on both me and everyone else worldwide.
I’ve been fortunate. Only a couple of people I know have died from Covid 19 and a handful more contracted it. I do a job that I’ve been able to continue to do – just in a different way and friends and family have stayed healthy. Some of them have been furloughed but with the hope of returning to employment soon. Personally for me it has been an inconvenience but nothing more. I missed out on trips home and trips to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore as well as some local holidays but that was all. For millions of people this has not been the case and the effects of it will continue to hit for a very long time. The financial impact – businesses will struggle to recover, more people will lose their jobs and the impact of that on society will be devastating. There’s also the emotional impact – on those who have lost a loved one, been isolating alone or just struggling to cope with a different way of living.
However, amidst the gloom and doom, there have been many positives. I’ve been lucky enough to be based in Malaysia during the pandemic and the numbers have been very low – only 266 cases per million of the population.
However, amongst all of this doom and gloom, there have been positive stories. In many parts of the world maternity and especially paternity leave is short – many people have been able to work from home and have therefore been able to spend more time with their babies. This is the same for older children too. I know many people who have struggled to balance work with childcare but all of them have been able to spend more time with their children. Our school taught many live lessons and the teachers recorded others so each day (if they chose to) the parents could catch glimpses of at least 5 lessons a day. We all say we have an open door policy but we also know it is rarely business as usual when you have parents join you for events. Learning from home has meant our parents have been able to see what we teach and how we teach it as well as their child’s strengths and areas for development.
On a professional level it has been fantastic to see colleagues who have really stepped up. Colleagues who normally come in and do a good job but not everyone knows about it. During our school closure, staff have learned new skills and shared those with others, people who have been reticent to offer help previously have stepped forward to play their part and this has brought us together more as teams I think.
In education for me, the most positive thing to come out of this awful situation is the way that teachers from all over the world have come together to support each other and share both expertise and resources. We have been able to ‘borrow’ ideas from other schools and share our ideas and the opportunities for professional development has been immense. Many educational consultants and experts have offered their time and expertise for free – I could have spent all day, everyday learning … but teaching got in the way!