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Parents Apprehensive About The Reopening Of High Schools

Kruti Beesam
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While constantly shutting down and reopening, schools are facing crisis ever since the COVID 19 has set foot on earth. First, it was a transition from book learning to digital learning. Children adapted to new ways of learning and mastering the same. They used laptops and iPads not only to play their favourite games but to study and learn too. Just when kids gained confidence with the online learning process, the central government in India decided to partially reopen schools.

With reference to the decision to reopen schools, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced some revised Standard Operating Procedures. According to the new guidelines educators are permitted to reopen schools for classes 9 to 12. This rule is effective from September 21, 2020. In the new situation, if educators choose to reopen schools, they are allowed to have only 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff in physical attendance.

Reopening Schools – Parent Perspective 

The limited resources, compulsion to return to the classroom and high risk of infection is alarming. The decision caused panic among parents and teachers. The decision to reopen schools has put a question mark on the safety of children. With a view to understanding students’ and parents’ opinion on the decision to reopen schools, a survey was conducted.  Heritage Xperiential Learning School (HXLS) this survey after the government announced Unlock 4.0. The results of the survey were an extreme opposite to the government’s decision to reopen schools. Only 8% of parents and students want to go back to the classroom. Rest of them seemed satisfied with the effectiveness of online classes.

The LocalCircles survey conducted on July 31, 2020, reflected a similar opinion of the majority of parents. According to this survey, 62% were not in favour of the decision to reopen schools whereas 23% were happy to send kids to school. The remaining 15% were indecisive and couldn’t come to a concrete conclusion.  

Reopening Schools – Government Perspective

Supporting their decision to reopen schools, the central government speaks of the drawbacks in a long-term online education set up. The government stated that too much virtual learning could affect a student negatively. The lack of proper student-teacher interaction may cripple a child’s learning capacity. The government expressed concern that those children who do not have access to technology and Internet may be left behind in the academic year. This is true. Despite progress in many areas of life, digitization has not reached all parts of India. If the central government does not reopen schools, a significantly large section of children will be deprived of their right to education. This is the strong argument in favour of the government’s decision to partially reopen schools. This, however, comes with the condition. The schools have to seek a written permission from parents to reopen schools.   

While the government’s decision to reopen schools cannot be dismissed altogether, parents’ concern cannot be neglected either. Even those who spoke in favour of reopening schools in the above-mentioned surveys have their concerns. Are the schools well-equipped to protect the children while in the premises? Can only 50% of the staff manage a large group of students across all sections? Is ideal social distancing possible in the limited space of a school/classroom? These are some questions that bother parents right now.

Reopening Schools- Challenges Faced 

Disciplining children to maintain social distancing is not the only problem. Large group interactions increase the risk of infection to a large extent. Monitoring this large group is not an easy task. Parents of kids from joint families fear the spread of infection to the elderly. When allowing a large group of people to assemble in one place, it is hard to determine who the asymptomatic carrier of the virus is. Another inevitable thing that poses as a threat is travelling to and from school. Parents, teachers and students could maintain social distancing and use sanitizer as much as they like, but risk prevails. People travel from different parts of a city by different modes of transport. The risk associated with travelling cannot be eliminated when the government decides to reopen schools. 

Apart from all this, the availability of a testing facility in schools is an important aspect in protecting children. Testing facilities should be made mandatory in every school. It will allow teachers to isolate the infected staff and students from the rest of the people. Staff and students even with the mildest symptoms must be ordered to stay at home at least for a week. Keeping track of all these things can be cumbersome on reopening schools.

Checklist For A School To Follow

The decision to reopen schools comes with some added expenditure for the management.  The entire school must undergo some structural and functional changes to ensure smooth running post reopening in the COVID-19 era. The classrooms should facilitate easy social distancing. Hand sanitizers should be available at all possible places within the school. Large assemblies for morning prayers, announcements and prize distributions should be done away with. Circulars should be distributed digitally through Email or Whatsapp. When all these things are assured, the transition from virtual to real classrooms will be easy. Ensuring the availability of these facilities not only requires efforts, but funds too. However, not all schools have enough funds to facilitate all this on a large scale. That poses a major obstacle to reopen schools.

After considering all the factors, it is clear that education is changing a great deal. Our little ones have to go through many hurdles before acquiring their rightful education. If you take a positive look at the situation, they will emerge stronger. New-age kids will be tougher and prepared for the toughest situations. Anyway, what is your opinion about reopening schools? Are you sending your child to school yet?

Kruti Beesam
Kruti Beesam

Kruti enjoys blogging and listening to music. She actively tries to sensitise people towards disabilities and create awareness about the need for wheelchair friendly infrastructure. Being a foodie, Kruti looks forward to meeting new people and sharing a good meal with them.

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