According to a recent survey conducted by online platform, LocalCircles, at least 69 percent parents are not in favour of reopening schools before the new academic session, i.e, April. The survey, in which over 19,000 parents across the country were interviewed, also found that only 26 percent of them approve of their children receiving the Covid-19 vaccine by April if it is made available by then.
Meanwhile, in most states including Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh Bihar and some parts of Maharashtra, schools have reopened for students of higher classes students. Karnataka has reported around 50 government school teachers testing positive for Covid six days after partially reopening schools. Parents feel this puts children and their families at high risk of getting infected by the highly contagious virus.
“Some schools and colleges are forcing children to attend offline classes. Some parents have said that schools are forcing them to sign an undertaking that they will be held responsible if anything happens to any child. But the health ministry guidelines are very clear that schools cannot call children to school without parents’ consent. But most of the schools are pressuring children to go to school,” says advocate Anubha Sahai, president of India Wide Parents Association, Lawyer and Child Rights Activist.
Sahai adds, “Opening schools will further spread infections. Even many teachers are not in favour of reopening schools. As far as online classes, online classes are going smoothly in urban areas. In some rural areas, the government is providing facilities like internet connection, tabs, mobiles and TVs for online learning. The government should not rush in opening schools. Maybe, till 8th standard they can promote students, for classes 10 and 12, they can opt for online exams and for students of classes 9 and 11, they can take oral exams. If the government doesn’t take precautions now, we might have to go for a complete lockdown again. It is not possible to curtail economic activities but when it comes to education, they have the option of virtual classes – at least till the situation is under control.”
Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi, executive vice president, AISECT Group and founder of Brainy Bear Pre-School and Activity Club and Get Set Parent with Pallavi says, “Blended approach is the way to go because you cannot really force any parents to send their child to school. Parents are obviously scared as the Covid has not completely disappeared. Till the situation gets phased out or some other option is figured out, I think a blended approach would be better. For parents, who are really keen to send their children to school probably twice or thrice a week, they can go. For the rest, they should have the option to attend classes on a digital platform. Besides, at school, children might not be able to follow all the social distancing rules well. Teachers too are at high risk. The decision of attending schools should be based on a personal decision and comfort level, irrespective of higher or lower classes.”
Supriyo Bhattacharya, state secretary, United Guardians Organisation, Kolkata, “I think it should depend upon the guardian. We demand from our government that when they want to reopen the school, they should consider the parents’ opinion as well. As parents, our priority is the health of our ward. First, come out with vaccine and then they can reopen schools.”
Sujatha Suresh, RTE task force member, Bengaluru and a parent says, “There are so many schools where the class strength is very high and it very difficult for small children to understand the rules of social distancing. After a long gap when they go to school, they are more excited to play in the playgrounds with their peers. Plus there’s the second strain of Covid-19 that has already reached India. I have discussed with pediatricians and general practitioners, they said this is going to spread faster than the previous one. Keeping all these things in mind, the safety of children is important for us parents. They have already opened classes for higher classes and so many Covid-positive cases are already coming up. Schools are not prepared for this situation. Most of the private schools are working virtually. The government should collect data from schools regarding how many people are getting affected and then decide on what best they can do.”
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