BHOPAL: Against the backdrop of the MP School of Drama, Bhopal, and the IIT, Madras, being shut down after a large number of students testing positive for Covid-19, how advisable is it to resume regular classes for students of Classes X and XII in schools from December 18, as decided by the state government?
When Free Press asked this question to doctors, educationists and parents, the responses were varied. The medical experts and educationists in the city say that reopening of schools may be risky, but, sooner or later, schools would have to be reopened. Parents, however, are still scared and they do not want to take the risk of sending their children to school.
"Everything except schools has reopened. It is now clear that we have to live with Covid-19. How long can we keep the schools shut and students confined to homes? It is not only affecting their education but also their mental health. With offices, factories and businesses open, the parents of the children are already going out. So, it is not that the kids are living in a bio bubble. Let us open the schools, ensure that guidelines are followed and observe how things move. If needed, we can always make appropriate corrections," said Dr Lokendra Dave, pulmonologist.
"If the government has taken a decision, it must have considered all the pros and cons. Experts must have been consulted. It's not for me to comment on the decision," remarked Dr Balram Upadhyay, RMO, JP Hospital.
"It's clear that some risks are involved in reopening schools. Let us counsel the parents and children on the dos and don’ts and hope for the best. The alternatives to running physical classes are not viable. Online classes cannot replace in-person teaching. Also, we must remember that a large number of kids studying in government schools, especially in the rural areas, do not have access to smartphones and the Internet. Why should they be put at a disadvantage?" Dr Renu Chugh, pathologist, said.
"There's no doubt that Classes X and XII are important milestones in school education. After Class X, students have to choose a stream. And the marks of Class X are a decisive factor in making the choice. The marks in Class XII decide which college a student will get admission in. What I feel is that, with online classes running, the government could have waited for some more time — may be up to the New Year," opined Raksha Sisodia, ex-principal, Government HSS, Barkhedi.
"The education of children has already been affected a lot. A few more weeks would not have made much of a difference. They could have reopened the schools in January-February," said SB Gupta, former assistant director, directorate of public instructions.
"Schools shouldn’t be reopened now. It'll be risky. The vaccine's almost here and, may be, by January-February, the situation will improve considerably. Meanwhile, examinations can be held online," Mahesh Saxena, ex-president, district child welfare committee, felt.
"I had gone with my daughter to her school last week for the parent-teacher meeting. I saw the students hugging each other and shaking hands. They didn't stop even when their teachers and parents were around. How can we expect that they'll maintain social distancing when they'll have to stay in school for hours every day?" said Sunita Saxena, a parent.