A detailed record of my first day under HBL, and an impromptu commentary on the lockdown

@Jade Ow Yanhui

Posted April 04, 2020
Last modified April 04, 2020

5 mins read



Our in-house journalist documents her first day of home-based learning (HBL) to prepare for her A-Levels. The day takes a very sudden turn with the announcement of the lockdown, so an additional section has been added to the end of this article.

Photo by Swapnil Bapat. Skyline of Singapore.

It's the first day of online classes for Junior College students in Singapore. I have been quite curious about how people go about their day during a lockdown for quite some time, so today I got a taste of what it will be like. Amid the rapidly developing situation that unfolded as I wrote this article, I took the opportunity to reflect on the day and the challenges that we as a student body could face as the nation engages on the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" strategy to minimize infections.  


Day 0:

Previous night: I unchecked my usual alarm for six in the morning and set it to 7.20 instead. Online classes were scheduled to begin at 8, but I like to give myself a little more time to prepare in the morning. I went to bed after ensuring that everything is set up and ready.


Day 1:

0720 The extra 100 minutes of sleep was a godsend. I stared into space and counted to ten before I got out of bed, fresher than I normally would be had I needed to drag myself to the bus interchange for my morning commute. I picked some clothing appropriate for a class video roll call before heading off to wash up.

0745 I switched on my laptop and tried to get Google Meet ready. Unfortunately, my laptop audio was extremely bad so I downloaded the app on my phone and got through at the very last minute. Lesson learned: Do not leave the testing to the last minute.

0800 It begins! We start with mundane tasks such as voting for our House Vice-Captain through our school portal. I finish everything in record time and within 15 minutes I could exit the room for breakfast with my sister. Food is a powerful motivator.

0900 I decided to finish both my video lectures by 12 so that I could go back to writing articles here as soon as possible. As it turns out... It's a herculean task to sit in a comfortable chair and stay awake while the lecturer sings a lullaby discusses the structure of an essay about the United Nations. Thankfully, I managed to keep my eyes open so that I could take notes.

1000 I take a break till 11. In school, my break would have lasted 30 minutes more, but since I get to decide how I manage my time, I thought I'd just start early and finish before the usual dismissal time.

1100 I start up my second lecture. This time it went well and I managed to stay relatively focused throughout the video. I'm just not an early morning person, perhaps. I'll have to work on that.

1200 I'm done for the day - Fridays have always been short anyway. After lingering for a bit, I head off to start on this article and work on revising, and a few other personal projects.


While I initially had difficulty adjusting to having lessons in my bedroom, I feel that this is something that I could eventually sort out once I establish a bit more routine. Today was more of a test drive than anything and thus far it's fine. However, I do need to work on my self-discipline - like not checking on my phone every 3 minutes!

Immediately after online classes ended, I took out a Post-it note and made my plans for the weekend. It's the first time I'm doing this and I intend to make it a regular habit. In times of uncertainty, perhaps it's for the best that we add a little structure into our lives. It helps, maybe, to create a greater sense of continuity and progress - especially when the looming goals of the As remains hovering over us at the end of the year. 

My schedule for the weekend.

On the COVID-19 "Circuit-breaker":

Worldwide, over a billion people are on soft or hard lockdowns - millions of us are already working or studying from home. After the HBL trial, we now know that studying online is not as easy as some claim it to be. It takes effort and motivation to keep yourself focused and productive when absolutely no one is watching. As a result, this announcement comes as a huge shock to many students, including myself.

As a JC2 student in a country where your results in an examination are tied to your ability to secure a better position in society, I am lost. Many have told me that all is not lost and that scores do not represent the world. However, having jumped through so many hoops for close to twelve years to achieve this certificate, the loss of a familiar education style we have become so used to will be a severe setback, especially for students who are sitting for national examinations this year. Staying afloat and keeping up is starting to feel like a gargantuan task, considering that the "circuit breaker" policy will stretch through the month in which the bulk of our content knowledge should have been taught in a normal lecture and tutorial setting. 

We're on our own and we will have to figure out how we can survive. I'll be leaving quite a few things behind, both bad habits and little parts of a fast-eroding childhood, but I will do whatever is necessary to ensure that I thrive in the long run. You can do it too. No matter who you are or where you're from, do not let this virus get you down.

**This article is a repost from the author's blog on productivity and online work. The original article is linked here: tinygreenstone.com.**

Author @Jade Ow Yanhui

A free spirit at heart with a passion for anything creative, Jade enjoys all forms of writing. She often dreams of escaping the ordinary and planning her life once she gets out of the education system. While the 'A' Level Examinations eat up much of her time, you can occasionally find her daydreaming by the Bishan river, under some trees, or just daydreaming in general. She runs a blog at tinygreenstone.com.

Editor @ws_ong

Born and bred in Singapore, Wilson is currently a PhD student in the United States, where he works in the field of Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology. When not mixing random chemicals in the lab, his recent hobbies involves writing articles on science education in his personal blog , visiting obscure islands around the world and gawking at maine coons. Visit his personal academic blog at http://isomerism.home.blog