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Over two lakh parents across India have opposed the Ministry of Home Affairs’ plan to reopen schools in July. On Saturday, the MHA announced ‘Unlock 1’, in which schools and colleges will be reopened after consultations with states and Union territories. Many countries like China, Taiwan, UK, Germany, Denmark and Norway have reopened schools.

ThePrint asks: Can schools & students be trusted with Covid norms or should classes begin as curve flattens?


Absurd that places of worship and shopping complexes are being opened before schools

Anil Swarup
Former education secretary

Schools are built on the foundation of discipline and should be trusted to adhere to Covid-19 precautions. Students and teachers are perhaps the most responsible members of society. It is absurd that places of worship and shopping complexes, which usually lack the same discipline, are being allowed to open prior to schools.

We need to remember that students don’t fall under the vulnerable age group for coronavirus. Mostly, it is people above the age of 60 who have a high risk of getting infected. So, we shouldn’t be paranoid about reopening schools.

Online classes have been picking up pace during lockdown, but they have their limitations and cannot replace the classroom experience. Although online classes have become a critical alternative during these tough times, not many students have access to broadband or even mobile internet. Some don’t even have their own mobile phones. This hinders their education and highlights the need to get schools up and running again. That said, teachers and school authorities are considering conducting physical classes every alternate day, and online classes on the other days. Splitting the class into two cohorts to maintain social distancing is another idea that is in the works.


Reopening of schools depends on parents’ trust in authorities

Dr. Ameeta Mulla Wattal
Principal, Springdales School, New Delhi

When it comes to schools, let’s look at the adults in charge – the government, school authorities and parents. Since Covid-19 is a dynamic situation, there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether schools should reopen in July. I’d also like to reiterate that reopening India has been an evolving process and every decision is going to have to be relooked, reworked and re-evaluated as the situation changes. Few public spaces are reopening without being aware of the consequences and schools should not fall in the same category when they reopen.

Even if the government gives school authorities the green light in July, much will depend on how comfortable parents are and whether they are willing to risk sending their kids to school. Therefore, the question of trust deficit is not really between students and schools but rather parents and schools because ultimately, it is their responsibility. The real question is how trusting are parents of Covid guidelines and whether they are willing to accept that despite regular sanitisation and adhering to Covid precautions, schools can’t guarantee that nobody will contract the virus.

That said, I have heard concerns from many office-going parents that they do not want to leave their kids alone at home while they are at work. So, maybe many will be pushed into sending their kids into school. But for now, it is a waiting game.


Govt unlikely to customise reopening guidelines for schools as per their location and nature

Rashmi S Chari
Associate Director, Center for Curriculum & Research, Bluebells School International

Schools and teachers, who are entrusted with the responsibility of preparing the children for life’s hurdles, can be trusted to train students to follow Covid precautions. Many countries are already opening schools and training teachers and students to maintain social distancing.

But the Indian government is unlikely to customise instructions for reopening of schools according to their specific nature and location. This is troubling considering the fact that numbers of students per class, school infrastructure, differing resources in public and private schools, demographics and location are all critical factors.

The education ministries at the Centre and in states should recognise that there is no urgency to open schools, unlike small businesses whose survival depends on re-opening. Schools have the safe alternative of online classes. NCERT and state governments had been conducting classes for public schools using EDUSAT television channels.

The NCERT, CBSE and state boards should instead work on rationalising the syllabus, creating online teaching modules and age-appropriate online learning resources. Cyber safety issues should also be factored in. They should spell out formative assessment guidelines and prepare softwares for proctored assessments for the end of term exams. Schools should also be given a choice of either going hybrid or sticking to online classes.


I don’t see kids following social distancing norms. Schools must not open now

Vatsala Sharma
Parent and co-founder, Language Curry

As a mother of a three-year-old and a six-year-old, I don’t see kids following social distancing norms. Schools should definitely not be opened for students of this age category. Not even for children up to 15 years. I stopped sending my younger child to a play school in May. I don’t foresee him attending classes till the year end.

I think universities should open up first and we should observe how it goes. Then, gradually we can think of opening high schools and play schools. Personally, just from observing the children in my society in Gurugram, I do not see them taking protocols seriously. I see a lot of older kids, even around the age of 16, playing with each other and hugging. They are not adhering to six-feet gap advisory at all, and so it will be difficult to expect the same from younger kids.

There is a concern among office-going parents about leaving their kids alone at home. But as a working mother running a startup, I see this a reality that everyone must deal with. That said, employers should also be mindful and identify employees with constraints and accordingly, give them the leeway. The emotional burden currently being felt by mothers is a reality and I think for a few months, while India unlocks, it is something we have to accept and adapt to.


Opening schools without knowing transmission patterns among children will be risky

Amir Ullah Khan
Professor of Health Economics at Indian School of Public Policy

There are many reasons why we should not be opening schools in a hurry. At least not in the near future. We have no conclusive data to support the claim that children are not vulnerable to Covid infection. The data so far suggests that like SARS and MERS, Covid-19 also does not really infect the school-going children aged between 6 and 14. However, at the same time, we know that there have been cases of severe illness among children too. Also, our crowded schools cannot maintain the social distancing protocols. Students must maintain 1 meter distance at all times, should be checked for symptoms while entering the premises, which must be sanitised regularly.

Each school exists in completely different local conditions, and so, uniform conditions cannot apply to all of them. Teachers and other staff will be at high risk from contracting the virus and in turn spreading the same among children. Finally, making children wear masks in these hot and humid conditions will be another challenge. We have an entire academic year in front of us. Even if classes start in October, we will have enough time to complete all teaching by April. Opening schools without data on transmission among children and without adequate testing will be very risky, to say the least.


Also read: CDC new Covid guidelines: Was lockdown necessary or did epidemiologists get it wrong?


By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint

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20 Comments Share Your Views

20 COMMENTS

  1. School and colleges should not be reopened during such worst times.. Our child lives matters the most.. Reopening school and colleges is such a bad decision government is going to approve.. 70% of student are living as a paying guests.. the landlords will be hesitating to keep the student in their homes as students will be going to colleges or many places. half of the children doesn’t have their own transport facilities and using public transportation at such period may be more riskier.. Online education is going at very well manner and until the this should be continued as well. but school and colleges should not be reopened.. Kindly show concern..

  2. Schools should not open until we know how to deal with Covid , there are many alternatives for education. Online e-learning is going fine .

    Let CBSE accept homeschooling also , allow parents to teach their kids at home and appear as private candidates for board exams if parents don’t feel safe to send them back to school .

    I as a parent won’t send my kids until a vaccine is ready and the Covid positive numbers are either in size digit or zero .

    My kids are not a mean to experiment to see if infection rates are less in the age group below 14.

    Education ministry please come up with alternative but don’t force us to send kids to school. We wouldn’t be ready to send the kids back .

  3. Well I will not let my kid go to school even if they allow it to happen in July. There are more than 40 kids in many grades at school where my kid goes..
    Social distancing in India is a fancy term used by many but its practical application in private or public institutes and public system is not designed to happen.
    Our system is designed to catered to mass people and not Individuals. Above all MHA guidelines says kids below 10yr and adults above 65ys are vulnerable group so I will be very keen to see school opening guidelines that may be issued soon..

  4. Are you gone mad, this is totally nonsense to open schools in this situation. Before open the school follwing point should kept in mind…which are really not ppssible to adhere…
    1. Who will be responsile if a single child get infected ?
    2. Do we have door to door isolation facility for kids like transportation, class arrangements, washroom facility ?
    3. Is it eeally necessary or just a propeganda to get the fee for this acedmic session ?

  5. There is no logic to open the school and College in this situation.heath is more important.there is no way student can follow the social distance.ti is fool to open the school n collage .Let see the results of South Korea the kids are covid positive.

  6. It will be a blunder if schools are reopened in the current situation of covid19. Current academic session should run in a hybrid manner and students should be allowed to adopt online classes. Children can not learn in a fearful atmosphere where they would not be focused to their studies. Moreover the working parents should be provided a leeway to work from home

  7. It’s not at all safe to reopen schools. Besides the concerns that have been expressed, one more important aspect is transportation..will school buses be safe with the staff..??

  8. no,school should not open now because studies can be done by online also.those have no facility of online education ,provide them the device and network for their education.those patents r intetested ,allow their students for school.so there should be kept two systems in the school, one offline and another is online study situation then choice depend on parents or students.in this situation proper hygine,food r more necessary and it is also very difficult to mask 6 hours continuosly or mantain social distancing.inmy view till medicine or vaccine has not come to market,still there should not be opened the schools.this is highly risky.
    thanks

  9. Schools should not be opened as it’s not possible to maintain social distancing among students the threat of covid 19 still there and no vaccine available and our country not having sufficient medical facility. School should open only when proper treatment or vaccines .

  10. I oppose the decision of opening the schools. Sending your child to school in this pendemic is just finding a way to ruin your and your child’s life. Neither government will gain profit nor the students. I am feeling nasty. Government has made me exasperated. Almost every person who will hear this news will be resentful. Online study will prevent our country from adding new covid patients.

  11. Schools should not be opened considering the rise of the Covid 19 which is taking place today in India Children are future generation s and they will not be able to study as they will have constant fear while going to school
    The sessions can be taken online classes wiht tests as going on and later when things normalize schools can open
    We should remember this is India and not UK and is a developing Country where even we dont know how clean the other school staff is and where they stay
    However teachers are considered as God and they will duly take all the care in world to protect the children but in best interest of children we cannot ignore other staff requires for maintenance of schools like sanitary people and cleaning and housekeeping staff
    Where and in what conditions they will be staying how they would be travelling would be utmost dangerous considering the infected virus doesn’t even show symptoms and there are so many deaths of so many people even before the test reports come and after thier death it is revealed they were suffering of COVID 19
    The situation is very bad and should be considering the same before schools are opened

  12. No , school should not be open until appropriate vaccine is available. Although children are the future of our country, how can we take risk for them and what will happen if they suffer from covid 19.

  13. Covid 19 is a new virus and medical fraternity world over is learning new lessons with passage of time. Despite all precautions of face mask,hand santisation and social distancing at workplace I have seen my colleagues falling sick. We all know that none of these measures are foolproof. So lets accept that despite all school discipline what educationists swear by is not going to work and we may end up schools turning into hotspots.The sick children will bring infection to homes to infect elders.In this trying time the focus should only be human survival at any cost and education should be on low priority

  14. Schools should not be opened as it’s not possible to maintain social distancing among students , schools also don’t have enough number of washrooms and good medical care and moreover parents not confident to send their children to school .what happens if u close it again after being reported of few positive cases. With less number of students in a class and many cases of absentism , the purpose will then also be defeated so what’s the point in opening at a point where the threat of covid 19 still there and no vaccine available and our country not having sufficient medical facility.

  15. Yes, I agree with this campaign. This in not the appropriate time and approach for reopening the schools even with 100% safety guards coz there would be no rule ever followed by these little champs and teenagers. GOVT SHOULD NOT TAKE SUCH A DANGEROUS DECISION OF REOPENING SCHOOLS WITHOUT VACCINE.

  16. I also agree school should open only when proper treatment or vaccines are available…there is no way kids can follow social distancing and take required precautions.

  17. There is no logic in opening schools/colleges. Social distancing which is corner stone of prevention is impossible. More over as Prof Alli said that we still don’t know transmission & other details about covid. Practicals are neither needed for NEET/JEE nor they are of any use in professional colleges. Covid disaster is still far from relenting. It’s fool hardy to open schools.

  18. Err on the side of caution. I used to feel very apprehensive when Ananya went to school in Singapore, before the government, after experiencing early success, imposed a general lockdown. The reason one urges a swift lifting of the lockdown is only because its economic consequences are devastating, not out of any sense of comfort that the pandemic is under control. 2. For schools, let there be a continuing serious dialogue with parents, nothing imposed on them. 3. Places of religious worship should be kept on hold for a lot longer. Recall what happened with a religious sect in South Korea and the TJ episode.

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