It was 2:46 am and while the sun was about to rise, my hopes for my Physics exam five hours away seemed to set into the dusk of despair and panic. Upon waking up, however, I heard perhaps the most longed for phrase in a student’s life–“Your exam has been called off”. The initial jubilance upon hearing this was replaced by a feeling of unprecedented horror within minutes. The first confirmed case of the deadly Coronavirus in India was identified as a parent of Shriram Millennium School. Following this confirmation, a message was sent out to parents not to send kids to school on Tuesday.
What happened afterwards has been come out extensively and intricately in media. So instead of dwelling upon what happened, I would rather talk about how it affected me on a much more profound level. I am also attempting to bring out the selfless heroism the school administration displayed and also the disconcerting and insensitive reactions that came in the aftermath of this information grabbing headlines.
As part of our history lessons, we are often made aware of instances of exemplary leadership but after flipping the last page of the book, these examples are consigned to the oblivion of ignorance. Yesterday, however, we saw a live example of such profound leadership as demonstrated by our Principal, Uttara Singh. Instead of submitting to vicious panic, what we witnessed was a very composed, calculated and immediate action-response to perhaps the most alarming situation in India yesterday.
Our school administration started firefighting from the word “go”. What really makes me proud to call myself a Shri student is the fact that the school spared not a single second for publicity shenanigans. With our Principal not giving any statement to the media, remaining focused on the task at hand and removing any distractions, the school showed it was crystal clear about its priorities. It was continually sending reassuring messages, updating us with the happenings and connecting directly with the parents through the PTA groups. This experience made me realise the importance of proper communication, maintaining poise and being extremely focused during emergencies.
While being inspired by the school’s proactive approach, I came across another disease much more vicious and lethal than the Coronavirus– the sheer insensitivity of the general public. I realised how, fed with misinformation and half-truths, the people you have lived with for the past 10 years can ostracise you in a matter of milliseconds. Instead of calling up and asking about the ground-level details, certain housing complexes decided that parents and students associated with the school must limit their presence in common spaces of the apartments. This insensitivity in such a delicate matter shows the sheer lack of empathy in people who did not even bother to contact us. If they had, they would have then known that every single child and parent from the school had tested negative for the virus.
The fact that WhatsApp groups were asking for photos of the infected parent and his kids does force an overwhelming sense of loathing in me. What disturbs me even more is the constant endeavour of news channels to inflate facts in a crisis-situation where misinformation can cause unprecedented havoc. Asking questions in a twisted manner in hopes of pinning the Chief Medical Officer to make for spicy news is no prudent reporting for sure, especially with matters as delicate as the Coronavirus.
I can, at the end of the day reiterate that I am very proud to be a Shriram Millennium School student because of the forbearance, calm and support the Shri community displayed. This is what enabled a unique group of students, parents, teachers and administrators who stood together in face of as scary an event as this.
(Vikramaditya Singh, is a Class XI student at The Shriram Millennium School. The views expressed are personal )