Glad to be back at ‘ghost town’ school

Groote Schuur High School head girl Agatha Engel and head boy Rory Samuels.

Matric pupils are adjusting to the new normal after returning to school at the start of the month.

Grade 7s and matrics are the first grades back in the classroom as part of a staggered reopening of the country’s education system during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Schools have to follow the strict Covid-19 protocols and regulations such as sanitising, checking staff and pupils’ temperatures before they enter, making sure everyone wears masks and enforcing physical distancing.

The head girl and boy of Groote Schuur High School said they were happy to be back.

Agatha Engel from Lansdowne, said she was anxious at the start of lockdown as she had a plan for her matric year.

“In the beginning it was hard learning from home.

“I had very little motivation but my faith helped me through it,” she said.

Agatha said online learning was a new experience and it had at times been hard to keep up, especially with all the group messages, but said her teachers had been instrumental in making sure everything flowed smoothly.

Rory Samuels from Athlone said the time had taught him self-discipline.

“It was difficult in the beginning but I had to learn to rely on myself and work independently.”

The pupils said they had now settled into their new class schedules and routines and were taking their matric year more seriously. While they were happy to be back at school, it was a completely differnt environment.

Agatha said the school felt like a ghost town. While she was scared in the beginning as she has asthma, she was happy that things were slowly returning to normal.

“It was nice to see my friends – even though we couldn’t hug one another,” she said.

Rory said while he was happy with all the extra attention the matric class was getting, he missed having the other grades around.

“I am worried about what would happen if the other grades return but I also looking forward to getting back to normal,” he said.

Agatha has applied to study medicine next year, while Rory’s plan hangs in the balance as he wanted to study fashion design and performance art abroad.

Matric pupil Tanweer Haroon from Star College Sybrand Park said they started working immediately after lockdown was enforced and were therefore on track academically.

“I did not panic as I knew the school had already set up the online learning. It was hard for me however, not being in a classroom.”

Amnaarah Adams from Crawford said it was “weird” being back at school at first with the masks and physical distancing.

She said she was anxious at first but was able to adjust to the new set-up.

“I knew the school would take the necessary precautions to ensure our safety and I’m happy to be back in that school frame of mind,” she said.

Tanweer, from Lotus River, said it was good to be back, having her friends and teachers around – even though they had to keep their distance.

Tanweer plans to study nursing, while Amnaarah is deciding between medicine, dentistry and maths.