Published: 09th August 2021
Impose any restriction, but allow in-person classes, say school managements
Several government school headmasters noted that parents were regularly raising queries and were eager to send their wards back to schools
Following the government announcement that schools might reopen on September 1, many teachers, parents and even students have demanded in-person classes at schools. However, another section of parents and students raised concerns over possible COVID spread if children, maybe the most vulnerable age group in case of a third wave, are asked to gather together.
Several government school headmasters noted that parents were regularly raising queries and were eager to send their wards back to schools. Arasangudi Government Higher Secondary School headmaster Farook told Express that parents feel that their kids are not following online lessons or Kalvi TV programmes.
Concurring, Thiruvellarai Government Higher Secondary School headmaster M Saravanavel said, "Now, only 40 per cent of the students are completing assignments and giving proper feedback. We are also unable to regularly reach out to certain students over phone. Either they are unwilling to study remotely or they don't have access to smartphone or internet."
"Strict restrictions can be imposed. Classes can even be held with less than 50 per cent seating capacity. Each student could be asked to attend school maybe only for two or three days a week. But, the classes should resume immediately," he opined.
Noting that online learning can never be a substitute for classroom learning, Sasikumar, a class 9 student's parent, said that its been an year and a half since students had in-person lessons. "We don't send our children to school just for the academics. There are other qualities, including social behaviour, team spirit, concentration, and patience, which the kids will pick up at schools. Yes, parents are worried due to the pandemic situation. So, the authorities should reopen schools with all necessary precautionary measures in place," he added.
Regional co-ordinator of Forum for Child-Friendly Schools (FCFS) and headmaster of Dr T Thirugnanam Primary School (government-aided) K Saravanan said that the whole the world is facing adverse effects of pandemic. "But, at the same time, 156 countries have reopened the schools. Unfortunately, many government school students have turned child labourers now. All of them should be brought back to the education path and schools should be reopened soon. The government must ensure that all teachers are vaccinated before the classes begin," he added.
Several students too expressed willingness to come to the school. However some parents, particularly those who had wards studying in private schools in the city, were hesitant to send their kids back to schools right away. S Sugirtha, a class 11 student's parent, told Express, "Schools should be among the last places to be opened up. Tourist spots are closed, temples are closed and theatres are closed. In this situation, it may not be right to open schools and put our children at risk."
Santhanam Vidhyalaya (CBSE) Chief Executive Officer K Chandrasekharan noted that they are ready to lay in place all safety protocols the government says to reopen schools. "Parents now and then come to schools even now to stay in touch with teachers. The parents want their wards to attend in-person classes and learn discipline and time management, along with developing social and interpersonal skills. There are some parents who are against reopening schools now, as well. We will proceed on whatever direction the government gives us," he added.
Stressing on the need to provide special counselling for children, Indian Scientists Response to COVID member K Leninbarathi opined that schools should hire psychologists and provide counselling to students as the pandemic situation may have taken a toll on their mental health. The school education department should also consider cutting down on the syllabus. More awareness programmes should be held to educate the students on the safety measures needed to ward off the COVID infection," he urged.