Published: 06th October 2021
This Bengaluru parent started an online petition to reopen schools for lower grades. Here's why
In the petition, Nazrin Balan states that since Karnataka has a low COVID-19 infection rate, the government can afford to allow schools to reopen for lower grades as well
After the Karnataka government allowed students of Class VI to XII to return to physical classes, a parent of a seven-year-old has started an online petition requesting the government to reopen schools for lower grade students as well. In the petition started on change.org, Nazrin Balan wrote, "Malls are open and parents are out with children in public all over Karnataka without much social distancing and masking. The Karnataka Government has allowed Grade 6-12 students to return to campus for five weeks and there has been no discernible spike in COVID-19 cases in children ages 12-18 or for any age bracket. These guidelines for grades 6-12 are working effectively and to date, Karnataka has not seen a rise in infection rate within the schools."
She further wrote in the petition that is addressed to Karnataka's policymakers and other parents, "When will our youngest students’ education be a priority? Children ages 3-11 have been left out of the return to campus because of the belief that elementary education is somehow not as urgent as high school. Additionally, there is no scientific study that the youngest children are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, when in fact the science indicates that young children are the least vulnerable for specific physiological reasons."
Nazrin claims that the delay in return to campus is forcing millions of children across India into a life of increased poverty. "Students from marginalised communities are languishing, often being told to go to work while they are unable to return to school. They have now entered a job market that seals their fate as low income wage earners for life. These students are also missing out on morning and mid-day meals that would normally be served when they attend schools," the petition reads.
There is an argument to be made that young children are not likely to follow the rules and wear their masks at all times during school hours. But Nazrin believes that it is younger children who are much more inclined to follow rules because of the respect they have for authority at this age. The petition is a request to the Karnataka government to allow Pre-kindergarten to Grade 5 students to return to the campus immediately. She also details the effect on learning, the effect on society and the medical implications of online classes. Currently, 765 people (and counting) have signed this petition online. Nazrin hopes to reach 1,000 signatures to make a real impact.