Hyderabad: The safety of children, who are required to go to school starting September 1 with the government mandating physical classes from that date, is causing serious concern among parents.
It is not that parents do not want to send their children to school, it is just that the absence of assurance of safety against Covid-19 once out of home is what appears to be holding parents back from fully backing the government decision to reopen schools for physical classes.
“I do not have the kind of money to take care of my six-year-old daughter if something happens to her. But, with no online classes, I have to send my daughter to school because I do not want her to miss any class,” says Kavita Konaboina.
For Namish Mehta, sending his two children to school is not a difficult choice to make, provided every safety and sanitation measure is attended to. The school they go to has security cameras and parents should be given access to them so they can check how things are being run, he says.
It is not just the practically enforced sending of children to schools that is bothering parents. Crowding, says Ashwin Kumar, is a serious concern. “I have two little daughters going to the same school, but should I take the risk when there is no vaccination available for children,” he asks.
Bansari Trivedi spoke to a cross-section of society for their opinions on the reopening of schools for physical classes from September 1. Here is what they said
Kavita Konabiona, 26, domestic help, Anna Nagar.
Six-year-old daughter is Class 1 student at Krishnaveni Talent School, Diamond Point
I am not ready to send my daughter to school. If online classes are shut, I would have to send my daughter as I would have no option. My only concern is her safety. I want the school to be sanitised well. I come from a very poor background. My daughter could not take online classes for three months because of financial problems. If something happens to my daughter, I wonder how will I be able to pay the hospital bills. At the same time, I cannot let her miss class.
Naimish Mehta, 38, businessman
Children Vedaant Mehta, 10, Jeevika Mehta, 13, study at Sunflower School, Sikh Village
I am okay to send my children provided strict hygiene is followed at the school. However, it is not fair to expect everything from the school. Parents should take the responsibility and educate their children regarding the measures they must follow for everyone’s safety. Schools must have regular temperature checks for the students, so it would be easy to send those with symptoms back home. Since the school has security cameras in each class, parents must be granted access to those cameras where they can at least monitor what their children are up to.
Ritesh Shah, 40, financial services
Sons aged 12 and 6. (Doesn’t want to name the school)
I am yet to decide whether to send my children to school or not from September 1. Most probably I will not send them to the school. The school managemet must be extra cautious and monitor every person entering the premises. Schools must be sanitised regularly and wearing a mask should be a must. We don’t know how the new variant is going to affect the children, or anyone else for that matter. It would be very dangerous to send children to school at this time when online classes are always a better option.
Ashwin Kumar, 40, bank employee
2 daughters, aged five and nine, study at DPS School, Secunderabad.
I am not at all willing to send my daughters, as the schools would be crowded. Why should one take the risk and send their children to school when there is no vaccination available for the children? We can definitely work on the betterment of the online studies as most of the students are used to it now. The hygiene maintained by the schools will remain a bigger concern as the children will be sharing common washrooms, food, water. I would be totally anxious as I would not be able to see my children.
Hamel Kiran Mendawala, 40, Audior
Daughter Twinkle, 16, studying at Sadhu Vasvani School, Son Dhruvin, 14, studying at Gitanjali Devashray.
The schools have asked for a vote from parents. It is a no from my end. But if we are left with no option, I expect proper sanitisation of the school premises also keeping in mind the Covid norms listed out by the government. In the worst case scenario, if something happens to my children, who will be responsible for their health? The schools are not providing transportation as well, as it is risky, but it is riskier to send children to school via cab, auto or a bus.
Vishal Saraf, 35, Chartered accountant
Son Pulkit, 7, studies at HPS, Begumpet.
Schools are bound to follow the instructions given by the state government. The school management has not yet clarified whether they would be complete online or offline classes. I am not planning to send my child to school right now. I will wait for a few days once schools start functioning, I will observe the situation and then take a call. Also, I feel that the hybrid model must be followed in the schools. It would be very beneficial. Till the 5th standard, all the classes could be taken online and offline classes from the 6th standards onwards.
Esha Hindocha, 29, Fashion blogger
Son Jjian, 6, studies at Cheric International School.
The school has not yet decided on holding online or offline classes from September 1, when the schools reopen for physical classes. I will not be sending my child to the school till the end of the year. Students studying in higher standards can attend the classes offline as they know the importance of social distancing, which is not the case with the younger children. I am in support of schools holding online classes till the end of the year. I can forgo a year of his studies, but cannot I compromise on his health.
Dr Eswari Vadlamudi, 35, counsellor, assistant professor at St. Francis College for Women
Sons Ujwa, 9, and Prajwal, 5, study at KV and Bachpan schools.
I cannot send my children to school. I don’t want my kids to be experimented on. It is okay if they are uneducated for the year but I want them alive. The kids are too young to understand the importance of distance. Expecting them to wear masks for half the day is very difficult. It is equally difficult for schools to monitor every child. The third wave is being predicted by the end of October, we should wait till then, observe the situation and then take a call.
Priyanka Chawla, 37, Communications professional
Son Keyvan 7, studies at Sriram Montessari, Jubilee Hills.
I am against the reopening schools offline. Why are we inviting the third wave? The schools must take parents’ views into consideration and then take a call. It is okay to have offline classes once a week where students can come and ask their doubts, otherwise online classes work the best. Children are afraid, it is not right to put them under stress. With the third wave at our doorstep, I don’t want to send my child to school. If I don’t have an option, I would have to send him forcefully.
Dhara K. Bhatt, 36, Homemaker
Son Urmit Bhatt, 10, studies at Amrita Vidyalayam.
I have mixed feelings right now regarding the opening of schools for physical classes. My child is excited to go to school and meet his friends after a long time, however, his safety bothers me. Children don’t know how to take care of themselves especially in these tough times. They will hardly wear the mask once they start playing in the playground. As it might be tough for teachers to monitor the students, a personal caretaker for every class would be a good idea who would keep an eye on students and help in maintaining their wellbeing.