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Parents ‘not comfortable with the idea yet’ as UP says schools can now reopen for Class 1-5

UP govt announced on 5 February that schools can reopen for students of Class 1-5 from 1 March. Guidelines require schools to reopen in consultation with parents.

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New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh has taken the lead in announcing the reopening of schools for younger students — those in classes 1 to 5. The government has said schools can open from 1 March, and also issued a set of guidelines. However, with Covid-19 still around, parents and schools are adopting a cautious stand.

While schools say they have been in discussion with parents about how to go about the reopening, many among the latter are not ready to send their children back just yet. 

The date for reopening is right around the time the session concludes, and they would rather wait until the new academic calendar begins in April, they say.

Schools in most states and union territories hold classes until mid-March, after which they break for exams or until the new academic session. In CBSE and CISCE schools, the academic session goes on till mid-March, followed by a break, after which the new session begins in April before the schools close again for summer. State board schools hold classes till mid-March, followed by exams. They roll out the new academic session in July.

In light of the Covid-19 lockdown, most schools had been holding online classes until the central government, in October, allowed states and UTs to reopen for physical classes in a phased manner. 

Most states and UTs have reopened schools for senior students from classes 9 to 12, with some like Gujarat and Karnataka even calling back those in Class 6-8, although a sense of caution surrounds the prospect of calling back younger students.

However, the UP government announced on 5 February that schools can reopen for students from Class 1-5 from 1 March. 

According to the guidelines shared by the education department, 50 per cent of students are supposed to attend school on a single day. Monday and Thursday will be for Class 1 and 5 students, Tuesday and Friday for those in Class 2 and 4, and Wednesday and Saturday for those in Class 3. The guidelines require schools to reopen in consultation with parents about their concerns.

Also Read: On International Day of Education, a reminder of how Covid changed school & university life

What schools say

Since the state government’s announcement, schools have been in touch with parents to seek their opinion on whether they will send their children for physical classes. They are also asking parents the duration — and the number of days — for which they are willing to send their children, among other things.

So far, schools say, they have received a mixed response, with many parents resisting the idea.

At Lucknow’s City Montessori School, public relations officer (PRO) Rishi Khanna said: “We are following the guidelines given by the state government for reopening schools for Class 1 to 5. We are prepared for the reopening. Currently, we are asking parents and, based on their decision, will take a decision in the last few days of this month. So far, we have been getting a mixed response.”

Vijay Mishra, the PRO for Lucknow Public School, a major private school in the city, said they have not yet decided about reopening schools for Class 1 to 5 but “will follow the government guidelines”. 

“Right now, we are asking parents if they are willing to send their children, and only then we will take final decision,” he added.

The questions the school has asked parents include whether they would need transport facilities for their children or prefer to drop them on their own, and the duration for which they agree to send them to school. 

Shiv Nadar School, a Noida-based private institution, said they are still in the process of collecting feedback from parents for younger children.

“We have asked their preferred mode of class, which is to select between online mode and hybrid mode; mode of transport; and preferred dates to send children for attending the school if opting for some campus engagements,” the school spokesperson said.

“We are continuing to receive feedback from parents. However, we have noticed, with the senior school, responses are mixed. We have been receiving mixed responses from parents. Some may like to send their children to the campus and some may prefer online mode,” the school spokesperson added. “On our part, we will ensure a safe environment so that parents feel confident while sending their children to school.”  

In some cases, schools have decided against reopening for younger students after gauging the parents’ response for older students.

GPM College Bareilly is one such school. 

“We opened our school for classes 9-12 with two shifts and all students are being asked to attend. Parents are not showing much confidence yet, with the Covid crisis, and are wary of sending their wards to school,” said Suvrat Prasad, the school’s administrative officer. “We are calling the parents for a meeting with the principal this Saturday to instil some confidence in them.”

Reeta Khanna, the principal for Springdale School in Lucknow, said “as of now we are not going to take risk for small children”. 

“We will not open schools for pre-nursery to Class 5 students in March. The new session will start in April for all classes, but that will depend on parents’ consent as well,” she added.

Also Read: Delhi schools reopen after 10-month hiatus, but receive lukewarm response from students

‘From new academic session’

Speaking to ThePrint, many parents said starting school for young children from 1 March is not an idea they are “comfortable” with. They would prefer sending their kids back from the next academic year, which starts in April, they added.

A 37-year-old private professional whose son is a Class 4 student at Delhi Public School Noida said: “The school recently asked parents whether they want to send children to school. I do not have a problem in sending my son to school, but there are many parents who are opposing the move, fearing for the health of their children.”

Shweta Pandey, whose daughters study in Class 1 and 3 at a private school in Ghaziabad, said: “The school has asked for an opinion, but I am not comfortable in sending my daughters back to school. Anyway there is hardly any time before the next session begins in April”

Sandeep Sonkar, a Lucknow-based businessman whose son studies in Class 3 at a private school, agreed.

“I don’t know what governments think of when they decide on school reopening… Is this a time to send young kids back to school? The session is anyway going to end mid-March,” said Sonkar. “We better send them once the new academic session starts.”

Also Read: Delhi schools will promote all nursery students, but parents still unhappy with lost year


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