Rewind to a Fortnight ago
Today marks my 19th day of isolation, and I’m absolutely done with this. I’m currently isolating myself with my mother and brother, and all three of us tested positive for the UK strain of the Corona Virus. Thankfully, my brother’s been asymptomatic so far while my mother and I are still trying to wear off the feeling of a fever brewing and the exhausting, constant body aches. In comparison to the worst this virus has done and is doing to the world, I must say we’re lucky that we only showed mild symptoms—fever, flu, body aches and light-headedness. This is the first (and hopefully, last) time I’ve tested positive for the virus since its graceful global entry in March 2020 but that doesn’t mean that my life hadn’t been turned upside down by it since it was first unwelcomed to the world.
Back to the Present
Sure, life couldn’t have been better in the first few months of the pandemic, when there was no concept of online classes, CAIEs had been cancelled, predicted grades were opted for, and I didn’t have to socialize but everything quickly took a turn for the worst when my farewell party (for graduating O-Levels) was cancelled and we, humans, had to bid farewell to the normalcy we had taken for granted all our lives before.
Currently, the situation in Pakistan is worsening as the third wave of the virus is proving to be deadlier to all age groups. The laidback following of SOPs is of no help and as a 17-year-old, this was the first time I was fearing for my health and my family’s health when I realised I had to appear for my CAIEs in May.
As a student, the virus had the worst possible effect on my education because, for over a year, I had taken my classes in the most haphazard manner—depending on the situation, schools would switch from online to physical classes and vice versa, and amid all this uncertainty, I found myself vexed with my standing in all subjects. I was constantly stressed and broke down over not being able to understand a lot of my syllabus—and this is coming from an all-time overachiever. You can only guess the burden on my shoulders when exams were around the corner and I had just recovered from the virus and had come to the realisation that there were topics I hadn’t even touched because I must have missed them somewhere in the middle of moving back and forth between online and face-to-face classes. Without a doubt, I can say that I’m sure there were so many more students who could relate.
I wholeheartedly believe that students should be given some form of leniency during this time at least until all citizens in their countries are given vaccines with the guarantee that exposure to the virus isn’t deadly. Honestly, I think that we should be given the choice to either appear for our exams or be given SAGs (School Assessed Grades) with the confirmation that both options will be treated as equal by further education institutions (colleges, universities, schools etc.). This is a win-win situation for all because those who absolutely need to take their exams have the opportunity to do so (with lesser crowded exam halls as compared to before), and those who want to opt for SAGs, have the option to do so as well. If exams are just cancelled and moved to a later exam series, as students, our time and money are going down the drain. I mean, I was supposed to appear for Accounting and Law (AS-Level) in May/June 2021 but they’ve been cancelled. So, not only did I just waste a whole school year, but I’m going to have to appear for these exams in Oct/Nov 2021, while I’ll be busy preparing for another subject (Urdu), giving my SAT (in August 2021), trying to complete university applications, and studying for the new academic year. Not all students can cope with this stress and that’s perfectly all right because it isn’t our job to juggle with the situation in the country, trying to enlighten ministers, and taking care of the rest of our responsibilities. The ones in charge really ought to think this through.