Published: 04th November 2020
Not the right time to reopen schools in Odisha, say parents
Most parents feel the State Government’s decision is baffling when the Health department has warned against possible fresh wave of Covid-19 which could put lives of both children and the elderly at ri
Parents have vehemently opposed the Odisha Government’s plan of the partial reopening of schools for Class IX to XII students after Diwali and demanded continuation of online classes till situation normalises. The State continues to report over 1,000 new Covid-19 infections a day which is a decline but the ensuing winter is expected to see a spike.
Most parents feel the State Government’s decision is baffling when the Health department has warned against a possible fresh wave of Covid-19 which could put the lives of both children and the elderly at risk. Besides, when the government has banned Diwali celebrations, how can it allow schools to reopen, they questioned.
Shankar Samantray, an advocate, is not willing to send his children to school if it reopens in November. “We are not opposed to reopening but want it delayed for some more time since the situation is still not under control,” said Samantray whose children study in a private school in Kedargouri. Even if parents send their wards to schools with all precautions, he feels, there is always a possibility of them catching the infection in the event of small lapses.
“Besides, the infection could hamper their studies for months affecting their performance in Class X and XII board exams”, Samantray said. Parents point out that even if students maintain a safe distance in classes, they will come in close contact with one another during recess or lunch break. Kartik Sahoo, a marketing executive whose daughter is a Class XII student in Unit-VIII DAV School, said the government must come up with a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP) before considering reopening even for the senior
Parents argue that syllabus has already been revised by different boards in view of the delay in commencement of a new academic session and the government must consider revising its academic calendar from January to August. Meanwhile, schools, on their part, have not yet assured if they will be able to ensure all precautionary measures on the campuses.
A meeting of private schools and members of parents association had been convened recently which remained inconclusive as parents opposed reopening of schools in November. The risk is greater in government schools where infrastructure and common amenities are absent. Members of Odisha Abhibhavak Mahasangh, a State-level parents’ body, questioned how the government planned to allow the conduct of classes in closed spaces.
Mahasangh chairman Basudev Bhatt said parents association has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and School and Mass Education department to revise the academic calendar and prepare a detailed plan for schools to reopen. “Mere SOP is not enough. There has to be a micro-management plan with details on the responsibility of parents, teachers and staff as well as details on what needs to be done in the event of detection of cases in a school,” Bhatt said.
No decision yet, 8,000 high schools on sight
School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said no decision has been taken yet on reopening of schools on November 16 after Diwali. He, however, said initially 8,000 high schools and all the higher secondary schools will be allowed to reopen in the first phase with all Covid-19 measures in place but claimed that no date has been fixed yet. “The department is readying a draft SOP which would be uploaded on its website seeking feedback from schools, parents and other stakeholders for reopening of schools,” the Minister said. If required, classes will be divided into different sections to ensure adequate social distancing, he added. An official from a top private school in Chandrasekharpur said they received suggestions for reopening schools for senior students from 9 am to 2 pm a day. There, however, has been no clarity on this, he added.