Parents divided over sending children back to school

Most adopting a wait-and-watch approach

Though just a few days remain for schools in the State to reopen on November 1 after nearly 19 months of closure owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are adopting a wait-and-watch approach.

While the Government has issued guidelines for the reopening and the institutions will be adhering to the COVID-19 protocols, parents are split over sending their wards back to school.

Only 14% ready

At a prominent CBSE school in the city, only 14% of parents have given their consent to send their wards for on-campus classes. For Class 1, it is 36 out of 255 students. A parent said, in his child’s class only seven parents had given the nod.

The numbers are slightly better for Class 10 and 12 – 35% and 42% respectively. The figures may improve as reopening date approaches, say the school authorities, admitting that even parents who are doctors have apprehensions. Hybrid mode of classes will be adopted in the months ahead.

At another CBSE school on the outskirts, only class 10 and 12 students will resume classes on November 1. School authorities say as per the ICMR, schools can reopen if the test positivity rate is less than 5%. However, it is mystifying why the State Government or the Minister for General Education are not saying anything about the TPR that has been hovering around 9 to 10%. A district-wise reopening depending on the TPR can also be considered, they say.

80% willing

Nearly 80% of parents are ready to send their children for offline classes is what an aided school in the heart of the city has sensed from the parent-teacher meetings. However, only from the turnout on the first day the exact numbers can be known, say the authorities.

In a Government girls school in the city, only around 40 to 45% of parents of Class 1 students opted for physical classes. While a good number of parents said they will reconsider the decision after a month, there are also many who prefer to keep the children at home completely.

The headmaster of the lower primary section, though, asks how much longer can one keep students at home, considering the repercussions on their physical and mental health. Online classes are no replacement for offline classes. Resuming school will also bring some schedule into their daily activities.

The chairman of a CBSE school, however, feels that an extension of reopening even by a couple of weeks will help, as the caseload is going down already and vaccination numbers up. Once the TPR is steady below 5% for a few consecutive days, schools can be reopened safely.

Some schools will get parental feedback this week, but heads of most institutions say they are ready with detailed plans.

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