Should schools reopen? Here’s what parents have to say
With the COVID-19 vaccine being launched and cases seeming to dip countrywide, schools have started calling students back to school in a graded manner with special provisions and restrictions. While students of classes 9 to 12 have already resumed to physical classes, those in junior classes are still continuing with online classes. However, of late, some primary schools have also started opening up their premises.
With the country struggling to swing back to normalcy, a fresh hike in cases in many states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and UP has come as a major setback. In the current scenario, the big question is: Should the schools start physical classes or continue with the virtual ones? But India, it seems, isn’t yet ready for online education. A recent UNICEF report estimated that in our country, only one in four children has access to digital devices and internet connectivity. It also highlights the digital divide between rural and urban India.
In another interesting survey by a community engagement platform named Local Circles, almost 80% of parents said they are unhappy with online education. Their main concern is learning loss. Parents, however, have a mixed bag of opinions about the resumption of schools. While they want physical classes to start, health and safety concerns are making them hesitant to send their kids back to school. Here is what they have to say.
Nandini Banerjee, mom to Shoumili, class 2, Mother’s International, Delhi
“Students of secondary and senior secondary classes have resumed to physical classes. But we don’t know when primary school students will be called back. I will be happy to send my child back to school if the vaccination becomes a success and authorities ensure proper sanitisation of all the touch points from time to time. With offices calling their staff back to office, online classes can be a challenge for parents of younger kids. This is because they can’t operate everything on their own and one parent has to be with the kid during the virtual classes.”
Monalisa Rakshit, mom to Abhinab, class 3, Sri Sri Academy, Kolkata
“Not going to school means a huge psychological setback for my child. Moreover, I find online classes absolutely ineffective. Kids have the scope of being inattentive to the lectures or skipping them altogether. I see my child playing video games while the classes are on. Despite these challenges, I would want the schools to reopen only after kids are vaccinated. Post immunisation, the resumption of physical classes can happen in a graded manner, may be twice a week with very few students and reduced number of classes.”
Pradeep Khanna, dad to Rounnaq, class 7, Saupin’s School, Chandigarh
“I think schools should open now. The COVID situation is pretty much under control in Chandigarh. Moreover, kids are more resilient to the novel coronavirus than adults. Additionally, they have, by now, become quite well-trained in the COVID-19 safety protocols. With schools remaining shut for almost a year, a major part of kids’ development is getting obstructed, let alone the psychological toll that lack of companionship has taken on them. Peer learning is the best form of learning. Online learning compromises that.”
Jayoti Banerjee, mom to Ishita, class 8, KR Mangalam World School, Delhi
“I am quite apprehensive about the reopening of schools. What if the COVID cases shoot up after kids start going to school, as has been the case with many schools in NCR? Reopening of schools should be considered only after children are vaccinated. I am not a big champion of virtual education, but I feel safe with my daughter at home in the current scenario. It’s tough to make kids follow the social distancing and sanitisation rules if they’re in school. Moreover, the safety of the teachers is also compromised.”
Prithwiraj Laha, dad to Rimjhim, class 10, Holy Child Institute, Kolkata
“Initially, when the school reopened, the students were going for 5 days a week. A week later, the number of days was reduced to three. Now they have resumed to online classes only. I welcomed the decision of reopening the schools as I feel that learning can’t be complete in virtual classes. However, in the light of the fresh spike in COVID-19 cases, the decision to shut the school seems to be wise. Having said that, I would like to say that online classes can never be a permanent solution. I have seen kids getting busy in chats during the classes instead of paying attention to the lectures. Moreover, teamwork seems to be missing in virtual classes.”