Reopening of Schools
- For nearly a year-and-a-half since the novel coronavirus pandemic in 2020, schools had to shut their doors, and shift to remote learning.
- Children suffered mental distress; deficiency of nutrition due to absence of mid-day meals.
- Many faced violence. Millions of children missed critical developmental milestones.
Online – lack of learning
- While remote, online learning is the only resort to connect students with teachers.
- Many children have been excluded from online classes, due to the digital divide.
What has been the protective measures?
- Large numbers are now vaccinated, and it is steadily moving up.
- The government prioritisation of teachers for vaccination is very reassuring.
What may be the apprehensions among the parents?
- Some parents felt that being vaccinated is the most important safety measure for children to return to school.
- Some of them not keen on sending their child to school yet.
- Some parents did not feel confident that their child’s school and staff are ready for safe reopening.
What we can consider?
- Schools can focus on getting back younger children first, as primary and pre-primary-school age children are the least likely to be infected.
- Children are mostly asymptomatic and are less likely to spread the virus when compared to adults.
- We have evidence to show that schools are not the main drivers of community transmission and that children are more likely to get the virus outside of school settings.
- In fact, keeping schools closed for more than a year did not prevent the raging second wave of the pandemic.
- With measures firmly in place, schools can be safer environments for children than other places.
What must be followed?
- Schools must put in place and implement all safety protocols.
Learning now and solutions
- The novel coronavirus pandemic has paved the way for a blended teaching-learning approach combining online and offline lessons.
- Teachers may assess the levels of progress in students in remote learning and plan for lessons based on these levels.
- Parents, teachers, students and school managements need to work together to find solutions.
- Positive examples have emerged from different States such as open-air classes under trees.
- The longer children are out of schools, the more difficult it would be for them to return and learn.
- The social and economic costs of children continuing to be out of school have become too high.