Is reopening of school a wise option amidst the pandemic?

Dear Friends, this topic is seeking the opinion of all the readers – if you feel it’s a wise decision to open schools in the current scenario!

Kindly go through the following article and leave your comment as “Yes” if you are in favour of opening of schools and “No” if you feel that a wait and watch policy should be adopted.

It has been almost five months now that the educational institutions have closed due to the ongoing pandemic created by corona virus. The normal life of the students has got affected.

In India, the government was forced to cancel the remaining board exams. In order to save the academic year of the students the board devised a formula to impute the marks of papers in which students did not appear.

This involved calculating with an average of the best three papers of students who had written four papers, of the best two for students who had written only three, and used practical and project marks for students who had written less than two.

Syllabus for the current academic year has also been curtailed in view of the ongoing pandemic situation. In order to complete the syllabus almost all the schools have started online classes for their students through Zoom meeting or Google meet.

Now the Education Ministry is planning to reopen the schools, initially for students of Class IX to XII and thereafter for the primary classes in a phased manner between September 1 to November 14.

The mindset behind this move is to bring India back to normalcy in the fashion of phased unlocking, as has been done for upliftment of the Indian economy.  But there is a big difference between absolute necessity and manageable requirements.

India can’t afford recession to engulf the economy owing to this pandemic. Hence, the move to go for the unlock in a somewhat hurried manner is understandable. But to reopen schools with most of the states still clocking innumerable corona cases on a daily basis and the country recording an average of 60 thousand plus cases daily, might  be doubted of being a rational move.

Refer attached link the first country to open school being overconfident of having controlled the pandemic was Israel and a huge outbreak followed after re-opening of the schools.

The latest record states that in USA almost 1 Lac students have got infected by corona within two weeks of reopening of the schools

To find the rationale behind the move to reopen schools in this scenario, the Central and the State Governments in India need to analyse their decision considering the very recent history of Israel and USA. The consequences faced by these two countries should be considered before putting the plans into action.

No doubt that our country is faced with some infrastructural issues in disseminating equal educational facilities, which doesn’t persist in developed countries. Our rural development is far from being satisfactory leading to poverty and lack of privileges.

Online study for rural students would have been some sort of a challenge. But the government initiative of online classes through television, initially pioneered by West Bengal Government, has resolved the problem of the rural kids.

Then why is this hurry in reopening of schools? In the current scenario, to most of the guardians, sending their kids to school will be the biggest challenge. There will be hundreds and thousands reluctant parents who seems to subscribe to this idea. It needs to be understood that the students of higher classes are also kids. They might not be able to follow the protocol in maintaining social distancing, sanitization procedures etc.

Refer attached link where WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan has given stress on reopening of schools. The logical inference drawn in the statement are suggesting to those ill effects of closure of schools,  which holds good only when you have a congenial operational atmosphere. Can WHO or anyone for that matter guarantee the safety of the students when they are exposed to this kind of a contagious virus?

If there is a requirement to honour WHO’s concern regarding schooling requirement of kids in the village, government can initiate open air schools/Pathshalas in villages for students who are devoid of online facility of education, at least thrice a week, through volunteers and by maintaining social distancing.

The government should think twice before implementation of this decision. They can consider continuing with the online structure for some more time and open the school in batches after evaluating the situation. For the time being schools can be opened  only for practical classes for those students who will be appearing for the final exams next year.

It is wise to allow the overall curve of the country to flatten. It is wise to allow the medical facilities reaching people to be a little smoother. It is wise to streamline the treatment facilities in hospitals. It is wise to control manipulation taking place in different nursing homes and hospitals in the name of Covid. It is wise to regularise facilities like local transportation to avoid overcrowding in the mediums of transport.  It is wise to look into the effectiveness of online classes and increase their frequncy as per school routines. It is wise to bring everything else to normalcy before opening the schools.

These kids are the future of India. It’s very important that they go to school and receive proper education. But preserving them on today’s date matters most  in order to reap the benefits out of their talent in future. A few more months waiting for reopening the schools will not have a huge impact on the students as online classes are keeping them much on track.

We cannot afford to allow lakhs of students to be at a risk, like it happened in Israel and USA. Kids have greater immunity and might only become asymptomatic and recover easily. But they can bear the virus back home and increase the risk for the elderly and lesser immune family members.

This is exactly what has happened in Israel. To remember, we are a developing country and our infrastructure might not allow us to handle situation, if it goes out of proportion, as it happened with the reopening of schools in Israel and USA.

A hasty decision might not be a good option knowing fully that the situation is not yet under control. It is practically not possible for government to conduct regular covid test for students and provide them with improved facilities in schools, as is available for all the high-profile government offices.

Hence, we expect some sort of judicious approach from the government with bit of a re-thinking process, before going ahead with this vital decision. We keep our fingers crossed with the state of Assam which is all set to reopen the schools to fructify the government decision.

Opinion of every citizen matters today.

“The essence of statesmanship is not a rigid adherence to the past, but a prudent and probing concern for the future” … Hubert H. Humphrey

12 thoughts on “Is reopening of school a wise option amidst the pandemic?

  1. Yes definitely no schools should reopen till the vaccine is out. It is very risk and we should learn from the mistakes of Israel and the USA… the wait and watch policy may be adopted…

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