At a time when the Covid-19 cases in the state are in excess of 8 lakh, fears regarding the safety of venturing out continue to linger albeit not as intensely as witnessed until a few months ago. With educational institutions remaining closed for quite some time now, ambiguity has prevailed over their reopening. While many have grown acquainted with the online mode of learning, the recent decision to reopen schools and colleges on 2 November, has once again thrown the debate open. We interacted with a few parents from Vizag to know how willing they are to send their children to schools or colleges, once they reopen in the coming weeks.
Rishi Maheshwari opines, “Firstly, we need to understand how the city is behaving. Secondly, there’s a need to know about the safety protocol that the school is asked to follow- and what is expected of the students. As a parent, I should be aware of the ‘new normal’ that the school plans to create for the safety of my daughter. Somehow, I feel that the city has returned to normalcy. In that case, why should schools be an exception if all the safety measures are duly followed? I would be willing to send my child to school given that I’m assured of her safety and the risks are as minimal as possible.”
Father of two daughters, one in class 11, Diwakar Mundra is clearly against the reopening of schools in the present situation. He says, “I believe schools shouldn’t reopen until and unless a solution or preferably a vaccine is out. I have seen youngsters hanging around carelessly without masks and barely any social distancing. Children tend to forget such basic precautions in the company of their friends. One must also be conscious of the elders at home.” He also cited the incident in Kurnool where 27 private school students had tested positive for the virus. Mr Mundra is certainly unwilling to send his daughter to school, any time before March next year.
Meenakshi Jain Tatiya, is another parent from Vizag who is unwilling to send both her children back to schools once they reopen. “I feel it is better to continue the online mode of teaching this year and personally, I get tensed seeing my children go out, not being aware of how they are behaving or ensuring proper safety in my absence. At the end of the day, they have to come back home and adults are much more prone to the risk of Covid.” Her son though is looking forward to going back. “I would be willing to go if the school takes complete responsibility for my well-being,” he says.
When we asked Disha Jhurani for her take on the state government’s decision, she said, “Being a parent of two school-going children, I wouldn’t prefer sending them back right now. It’s too early. Especially with the news about the possibility of a second wave circulating around. Even though the school promises to ensure all the Covid precautions, they’re dealing with children after all and it’s not going to be easy to control them. We would prefer skipping a year than risking their lives.”
Rashmi Bararia, a mother of two sons, and a teacher herself, is of two different opinions. Personally, she would avoid sending her kids due to their existing health issues and low immunity levels. But if that weren’t the case, she’d be comfortable in sending them back to school. “I would feel comfortable sending my kids back to school now, provided, the management ensures strict implementation of various safety measures. Also, they should educate the children as much as possible.” She feels that children have been through immense mental distress due to the lack of physical schooling. “I think there’s risk in everything we do in life, and there’s some risk in sending them to school during the pandemic, but I think the potential benefits for getting kids back to school are really great.”
With fears of a second wave and a major festival like Diwali coming soon, chances of an increase in the cases are highly possible. While a few parents in Vizag might be willing to send their children to schools after they reopen, they naturally expect schools to come up with safety measures. On the other hand, there are others who wouldn’t want their child to go out unless and until a potential solution is out. What do you think? Do let us know in the comments below.