Your Space: Reopen educational institutes in Pune for fully vaccinated
The administration is taking steps to resume offline classes at schools and colleges in Pune. Though the civic body claims to be prepared to tackle the anticipated third wave and reported cases of the virus variants, what steps should be taken to ensure students, staff and those related to running the institution are not exposed to a possible virus risk? Readers share views.
Post second wave cases, avoid reopening of schools
It is true that online education cannot replace the in-person teaching experience. Children are now glued to screens from morning till night and because of the current situation, there seems to be no way out of it. But as a parent, the idea of sending children to school still appears to be a risky one. We have seen that adults are not following the Covid preventive rules. It is a difficult task to control children’s behaviour when they get together with their friends. Even if all the teaching, non-teaching and supporting staff iare vaccinated, the vaccination of the children has not begun yet. So, how will we ensure that the virus won’t spread among them? I think parents would feel a lot safer if the Covid vaccine for the children is made available and after a major portion of the section is vaccinated, schools are reopened. Even in the case of adults the cases have been recorded even after full vaccination. So, even if the administration is saying that the Covid health infrastructure for the children is ready, learning from the second wave we should not take risks.
Reopen schools under Covid safety cover
Some parents are sceptical of reopening of schools, but there is also a huge section of them who are willing to send pupils to educational institutes. Though it is accepted that operations of educational institutions would not be as it was before the pandemic struck, we still need to find a way to reopen them. This is a matter of the entire generation. Recently, I read in newspapers that a task force has recommended guidelines to reopen schools. All the stakeholders should reflect on them. With some adjustments and precautions, educational establishments could be reopened. Teachers and non-teaching staff have been going to school for the day-to-day work. With few classes and batches of students, offline lessons could be restarted.
Onus on college students to follow safety norms
I have been missing my campus life. Most of my friends have taken at least the first dose of the vaccine. With proper precautions and fully vaccinated attendance, I think offline classes can be restarted. It is everyone’s personal responsibility to follow the Covid-appropriate behaviour. College students are adults and they should be responsible to follow these norms. Also, colleges should maintain sanitisation and hygiene at the campus and classrooms. College canteens could be a major hotspot for the transmission of the virus. So, it should be made sure that rules are followed there too. Also, most of the outstation students have given up their hostel and PG rooms. Proper guidelines will have to be issued for these establishments if students will have to return for offline classes.
Reopening of schools will help working parents
Working parents are facing issues taking care of kids when schools are closed. Parents who work from home can manage, but those who need to step out for their respective jobs are facing many challenges. Also, the screen time of kids has increased exponentially. A solution has to be found to address this issue. There is still a risk of Covid infection, but offline classes for higher standards could be arranged. With vaccination, Covid-appropriate behaviour and alertness, classes can be resumed in campuses. Students are missing out on the experience of offline schooling and it is important for their personality development.
Restart schools with 25% student count
Schools have restarted in villages where there are no reported Covid cases. In the city, it is difficult to implement it because students come from across all localities. Instead of having offline classes for all of them at once, student count of one batch should be kept at 25% and parents can drop them at school instead of taking a school bus. Though it will cause inconvenience to many, it is worth taking keeping the safety of students and school staff in mind. Children have become irritated and frustrated sitting at home. School or colleges are socialising spaces for them. Once the vaccination of teaching and non-teaching staff is completed, schools could be reopened with only 1 or 2 classes. Then gradually it could be resumed fully. There is still a risk of the third wave, but we cannot be sure how many such waves would come. So, instead of stopping our lives, we have to find a way around it. Now when Covid cases are low, we can try to store as much experience of normal life with Covid-appropriate behaviour before another possible wave comes our way.
Reopen offline classes for undergraduate, postgraduate programmes
Reopening of educational institutes especially for the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes need to be considered by the government. Though education is being imparted through online format, there are many aspects of the on-campus education system which not only improves the efficiency of learning and teaching, but also contributes to the overall development of the students. It can be reopened in stages with priority to final year students. However, I feel that the reopening needs to be considered only when vaccination of the entire staff of the educational institution and the students is complete with two jabs of the vaccine. While, reopening of campuses of primary and secondary schools can be kept on hold for this academic year considering the fact that the vaccines for the age group below 18 years are yet to be available.
Conduct offline classes for students with no access to online tools
While the administration might be taking steps to reopen schools and colleges, it is important for us to remember the fact that the pandemic is not over yet. Resuming offline classes in areas where positivity rates are high and online learning is feasible, is a recipe for disaster. However, some students living in rural areas do not have access to the tools necessary for online education. Hence, schools and colleges should be reopened while online education is continued. Students who can continue with online education should be encouraged to do so; while other students should have an option of offline education available to them. When schools and colleges are reopened, social distancing norms must be followed and proper sanitisation should be maintained. Vaccines must be distributed quickly to all those who are in immediate need. Hoping to see a positive change in the future!
Staff should be fully vaccinated
To ensure a Covid-safe environment for the students all necessary precautions such as wearing masks, social distancing, sanitising of hands and temperature checks should be followed before entering the campus. Schools and colleges should regularly disinfect classrooms and washrooms to maintain hygiene. The civic body should prioritise getting staff members vaccinated. If classes are conducted in multiple batches, it will provide adequate safety and reduce the risk of infection.
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