HT Readers’ Take: ‘Tough challenge for schools to put Covid-19 safety steps in place if they reopen now’
BABY STEPS: Until the outbreak is contained, risking the life of students by asking them to attend school is not advisable, say Hindustan Times readers. Online classes, completion of the syllabus by making it more compact can help students and ease the burden on teachers, they add. However, others who want classes to start say schools should strictly implement safety measures such as keeping desks six feet apart and starting an odd-even attendance systemUpdated: May 23, 2020 00:40 IST
I’LL PAY THE FEES, BUT WON’T SEND MY CHILD TO SCHOOL
Junior and middle schools, even through rotation, should not be opened as students in this age group are vulnerable. They are not only very young, but very immature and naughty as well. Controlling them can be tough. As a mother of a 10-year-old Class 5 student I find it difficult to keep him productively occupied at home or quickly complete his homework online on time. Not being tech savvy I sometimes feel stuck and irritated as well. However, health is wealth so I would prefer to teach my child at home and pay tuition fees on time instead of sending him to school. Money does not matter, but the least I would hope the schools to do is adjust the administration and maintenance charges. The syllabus of the middle schools this year can be adjusted too so that teachers are spared the burden of completing courses quickly.
Yasmin D Khosla, Panchkula
FOCUS ON BONDS FORGED DURING THE LOCKDOWN
Chandigarh is quickly coming to grips with Covid-19, so we should do anything to allow the virus to spread unchecked by being in a hurry to open the schools. Let the schools reopen in a phased manner from July 1 onward. What is important is to build upon the new connect between students, teachers, and parents that was created during the lockdown and made youngsters respect grownups at home and school as they see the elders catching up with their technological skills. Creativity has scored and so has the attendance and participation in online classes. Once schools reopen we much build on the bonds we have strengthened during this period and move ahead to 2021 towards our desired goals.
Madhu RD Singh, Ambala Cantonment
ONLINE CLASSES CANNOT COMPENSATE FOR FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTIONS
Being a grade 12 student, I would request you to consider reopening of schools the need of the hour. We are suffering too. How will we be able to cover the syllabus even though online classes are being held as they aren’t as effective as face to face classes? CBSE also hasn’t issued any clarifications about the reduced syllabus.
NO COMPLACENCY WHEN IT COMES TO STUDENTS
No, schools should not be opened immediately as the safety and health of children is of utmost importance. No matter what steps the administration takes, social distancing is next to impossible in our overcrowded classrooms, school buses etc. We can’t even expect children to follow norms strictly, wear masks in the summer and use sanitisers frequently. Handling food during lunch hours is also an issue. For teachers, managing the rush of students while entering and leaving school premises could be a problem. Online teaching should be continued till the pandemic is controlled. One can’t be complacent when it comes to the safety of students as one infected child can act as a super spreader. This is not at all a risk worth taking and administration should seriously take note.
Dr Vinay Kapur, Chandigarh
DECLARE 2020 THE YEAR OF ‘ONLINE’ EDUCATION
The present academic session (2020-21) up to Class 12 should once and for all be declared a year for ‘online’ education for the safety and health of children. Will social distancing be possible in classrooms, school buses or while entering and leaving schools? Is use of common toilets advisable? A recess break will also put children’s ability to don and doff masks to test. Smaller children will find it difficult to not touch their masks, which will increase chances of infections, and the summer heat will not make things easy. Opening of schools amidst the pandemic while ensuring social distancing will require investment in terms of sanitising the premises multiple times and running more than one shifts. Rather, schools should devise safe, secure and foolproof methods of conducting exams online. We as parents say a resounding no to opening of schools in the present scenario as the number of cases are increasing. Nothing is worth more than our children’s health.
Arpita Kapur, Panchkula
MAKE MASKS A PART OF SCHOOL UNIFORMS
All schools should be allowed to open according to schedule with an undertaking that social distancing will be maintained and masks made compulsory and a part of the school uniform. Remaining confined at home for a long period can lead to mental and other health problems.
MEDICAL HELP NOT AVAILABLE IN MANY SCHOOLS
Keeping in view the present conditions it is not advisable to open the schools immediately as the safety of students is likely to be compromised. As many schools might be unable to provide immediate medical help in the present scenario they should act wisely and wait for the right opportunity to open.
SK Gupta, Mohali
CAN CHILDREN OBSERVE STRICT DISTANCING, SAFETY NORMS?
Decision of school opening is a very crucial decision as it could put the lives of children at risk. Let’s imagine a scenario in which a school opens and child gets infected. He or she could infect others and they in turn could transmit it to their family members. Now let’s go with the theory of social distancing and hygiene – do you think many students will be able to follow safety norms, especially those in primary classes? Definitely not. Studies are an important part of a student’s life no doubt, but lives matter too. Schools should remain closed till the situation improves.
DON’T ALLOW ANY FUNCTIONS
Yes, there should be no problem in reopening schools, but it should only be done if school managements take the responsibility of strictly following social distancing and other safety norms. Protection of children should be the topmost priority. Schools must ensure children are checked at the gates for temperature. Shift systems allowing batches to come in on alternate days can be followed. No gathering of any kind such as seminars and other functions should be allowed.
Prabhjot Nagpal, Zirakpur
MANAGING SOCIAL DISTANCING A CHALLENGE
Opening schools might result in more children getting infected with Covid-19. It will be a challenge to manage social distancing and taking other precautionary measures in schools given the crowded classrooms. Parents will also not want to expose their children to risks now.
Saikrit Gulati, Chandigarh
PARENTS SHOULD BE CONSULTED
The director, school education, should discuss the issue with teachers and parents to find a workable solution, keeping in mind that the health of the students is paramount. The health department should also maintain records of infections among the students.
Usha Verma, Chandigarh
INVOLVE STUDENTS, TEACHERS IN DECISION-MAKING
The education department of the Chandigarh administration must draw up a comprehensive plan involving principals and senior students from government and private schools to reopen. In fact, teachers and senior students besides other staff members should be taught and trained on a war footing to ensure that precautions such as sanitisers, hand-wash, masks, etc are used and social distancing norms followed. School principals should have a daily briefing (on what to do) every day and debriefing (identifying and removing shortcomings) with teachers and senior students to ensure safeguards remain in place and improve every day.
Dr SS Bhatti, Chandigarh
ONLINE CLASSES TEMPORARY SOLUTION
All the stakeholders in education should prepare to reopen schools in a phased manner. However, new safety measures ranging from adequate ventilation of classrooms to placing desks six feet apart to ensure social distancing norms, wearing masks and only allowing students of a particular age to attend classes should be adopted. Many offices and companies are resuming work gradually, so why leave schools behind? Online classes are a temporary solution because in traditional classrooms individuals learn many life skills. Being in the peer group is very important for the emotional growth of children. Continuing online classes for long time can lead to certain behavioural issues which might adversely impact the mental well-being of students.
Jasleen Kaur, Chandigarh
SCHOOLS NOT EQUIPPED TO PUT SAFETY MEASURES IN PLACE
Will our current system be ready to take on the risk of opening schools? Do institutes have the wherewithal to manage transport, classrooms with social distancing for designated strength of students; adequate staff strength and health services? Analysing all of this will indicate that we are not ready as yet to take on the risk of opening schools.
Om Prakash Negi
REVISE SYLLABUS, MAKE IT SHORTER
Usually at this time of the year schools are normally closed for summer holidays before the new session and to protect students from the ill-effects of intense heat wave conditions. Now, with the Covid-19 outbreak, it is not in any way justifiable to open schools. Revised shorter syllabus with online teaching sessions and staggered group home tuitions with health advisories adhered to are some safety measures school managements can opt for the completion of course work .
Anil Vinayak, Amritsar
CUT SHORT SCHOOL TIMINGS
If schools have to be opened then only senior classes should be allowed. Classes can be segregated and students with roll numbers ending with odd and even numbers should come on alternate days. The whole school, classes, benches, walls labs and school buses should be sanitised and school hours cut short. Students entering schools should be checked for fever with staff present at gates handing out masks to those not wearing them. Their hands and bags should be sanitised. No first term exams should be conducted up to Class 8.
WAIT FOR CITIES TO REPORT ZERO CASES
Being a student I want to suggest that schools should not open until our cities or states record zero cases because many students coming from containment zones will put the lives of others at risk as implementing social distancing norms in institutes could be a problem. According to me, teachers, too, might not be able to monitor larger classes and see if students are following other safety precautions. I feel online classes are for our benefit as there is less consumption of paper, students are getting used to technology and can easily make notes on their smartphone. One is also comfortable while sitting at home and studying. Fuel too is saved as students don’t have to be dropped off to or picked up from school.
Nikhil Sharma, Ludhiana
CHILDREN’S STUDIES SHOULD NOT BE AFFECTED
I firmly believe that schools should be reopened for Classes 12 and 10, requiring batches to attend on alternate days. As it’s certain that development of a vaccine against Covid-19 will take a considerable amount of time, we should take strict measures to ensure that children’s studies are not affected.