Schools Reopen: Here's What Parents Have To Say

With schools deciding to resume classes after the shutdown, parents have mixed feelings. From being mentally prepared to worrying about sanitizing of school buses, read what they have to say.

By Ashwin Dewan  • 8 min read

Schools Reopen: Here's What Parents Have To Say
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Scenario 1) Tamil Nadu schools reopen on January 19, 2021: Screening for students, vitamin doses to be given.

Scenario 2) Maharashtra schools to reopen for classes 5 to 8 from January 27, 2021. Mumbai schools, however, to remain shut.

Scenario 3) As Delhi schools reopen on January 18, 2021 for students of class 10 and class 12, Deputy CM and Education Minister Manish Sisodia tweets his best wishes to the students.

This academic year, students have been on a long vacation before they could attend school again... All thanks to the pandemic! In the meantime, online classes have become the norm for students. When educational institutions across the country decided to shut down temporarily in March 2020 keeping in mind the health and safety of students, little did anyone know that it would be almost a year before schools would reopen. However, things seem set to change.

As per the status quo, a majority of the states have opened classes for 10 and 12. Some states have schools that have opened for junior classes as well. 

Preventive measures in place

While most of the schools have adopted several measures to prevent the spread of the virus such as staggered timings, reduced attendance in classes, CCTV cameras to monitor social distancing and sanitization of classes, the BIG question remains – are parents ready to send their kids back to school? If so, what measures are being taken? Many questions float around and doubts linger.

We, at Parent Circle, spoke to different parents about their feelings on sending their kids back to school and it was a mixed bag of responses. Read on.

Parents SPEAK

With more and more states joining the list of states where schools have reopened, we, at ParentCircle spoke to parents from different states like Bengaluru and Kolkata asking for their view on the matter. Read on for their opinion.

Asha Balasubramanya, mother to two kids, one studying in class 3 and one in class 7, and a resident of Bengaluru, is hesitant about sending her kids back to school.

“I am still reluctant to send the kids back to school. However, if the school opens and online classes are discontinued, I have no option but to send the kids to school. As a parent, I would want all the necessary precautions to be taken by the school authorities; all students should compulsorily wear masks and seating distance in bus and classroom must be maintained.”

For Nidhi Mittal, whose kids study in class 3 and class 5 respectively, there are many concerns when it comes to sending her kids back to school.

“I would ideally want proper sanitizing of the school bus and temperature check of students before they enter the bus. Bus staff should wear PPE kit and visible guidelines related to COVID-19 safety measures to be displayed on the bus. As far as classrooms are concerned, everyone should wear masks and social distancing should be maintained. Each school should hold one extra class where children are taken over the COVID-19 guidelines repeatedly. Toilets should be cleaned frequently and sanitizers to be in various spots throughout the school.”

Kirti Chandra, whose kids study in class 2 and class 8 respectively, believes parents should be mentally prepared to send their kids back to school.

“After so many months at home, kids are also excited about going back to school. Of course, we, as parents, are worried about their safety. Every parent should coach their children on the basic hygiene and COVID-19 safety guidelines before sending their kids to school. However, practically, it is not possible to ensure kids are following each and every guideline. So, as parents, we should be first mentally prepared to send our kids to school”

Sayantani Ray, based in Kolkata, is apprehensive about the situation with the schools reopening across different states of India.

“I don’t think the majority of the parents are ready to send their kids back to school. It is natural for parents to fear about the safety of their kids. Personally, I feel that kids will have a difficult time maintaining social distancing. They do not know all there is to know like closing the mouth when one sneezes, using sanitizers each and every time, etc. So, it is a tricky situation for the parents as well as the school.”

Dr Sandesh Khandelwal, Consultant Neurosurgery, Victoria Hospital, Bangalore, is the first doctor in Karnataka to be vaccinated. He shares his views on schools reopening, precautions kids should take and more.

“I believe that the lockdown has had a negative effect on the mental health of kids. However, with extra precautionary measures, we can go ahead with reopening of schools as the situation is much better compared to a few months ago. As far as teachers go, they should be vaccinated as they can be carriers. The available vaccine is not recommended for people below the age of 18. Also, available data suggests that kids are much better protected against COVID-19. As kids start attending schools, they should wear mask and wash hands regularly, which will also prevent them from many other infections. If you observer, a lot of communicable diseases are on the decline as people are paying more attention to hygiene than before.”

Dr Ruma Khandelwal, Attending Consultant, Pediatrics, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore shares her views as well.

“It is good that schools are reopening and vaccinations are important. However, it is not safe for kids as trials have not been done on children less than 18 years. Kids should be educated on hand hygiene, sanitization, and social distancing. Ideally, routine vaccination for kids should be completed before most schools reopen. Health education classes, dietary supplements, regular exercise and proper hygiene measures are the need of the hour.”

Status of reopening of schools

For the first time after lockdown, the Centre had given permission to states to reopen schools from September 21, 2020. Based on the then COVID-19 situation, states decided whether to reopen or not.

While many states have already reopened schools such as Uttar Pradesh (December 7 for classes 9 to 12), Uttarakhand (December November 2 for classes 10 to 12), Haryana (December 21 for classes 10 to 12), Assam (January 1 for class 7 onwards), Karnataka (January 1 for classes 10 to 12), other states are set to follow suit.

Schools Reopen: Here's What Parents Have To Say

Guidelines for all schools on reopening

  • Only class 10 and class 12 students to visit schools with parental consent.
  • A record of all students coming to school will be maintained. However, this is not to be confused with attendance.
  • No assembly or physical outdoor activities to take place in the schools.
  • All social distancing guidelines to be strictly followed.
  • Online classes to continue for those who are staying at home.
  • No transport to be provided by the school authorities.
  • Only schools outside containment zones to reopen.

Seating arrangement in schools

As far as the question of seating in schools arises, the seating arrangements have been designed in such as way that a distance of 6 feet between chairs is to be followed. Also, schools have been clearly instructed to make markings on the floors of different departments inside the school such as classrooms, staff area, the library, the cafeteria, etc. that will ensure this distance of 6 feet is maintained.

Lab guidelines

In laboratories, a maximum of 10 students to be allowed at a time. At least two to three staff members to supervise the proceedings. Volunteers to be deployed to check temperatures and ensure that social distancing is followed. 

Online classes to continue even as schools reopen

Even as schools in different states across the country reopen or are set to reopen, Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has made it clear that online classes are not going away.

“Even as the schools are reopening, we will not do away with the online classes. The online classes will take place simultaneously for students. We expect 50 per cent of students to continue taking classes on online mode, especially for classes for which schools have not been reopening, and for students who would not be able to attend the classes physically.”

He also requested parents to trust the authorities and send their kids to school.

It is going to be a challenging situation not only for the parents but the kids and the school authorities as well. Most parents are fearful of sending their kids back to school and rightly so. However, careful planning and a composed state of mind seems to be the need of the hour. Before sending the kids to school, parents must ensure that their kids have been taught about all safety and health guidelines.

Also read:

Covid-19 Impact: Top school principals discuss the reopening of schools in India

School safety measures must be displayed and communicated to parents

About the author:

Written by Ashwin Dewan on January 18, 2021.

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