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Education

Updated on: Wednesday, December 29, 2021, 10:41 AM IST

FPJ-Ed: As COVID-19 cases rise, Mumbai parents opt to volunteer in school to ease current crisis; pitch for offline classes

Offline schooling in Maharashtra resumed on December 1 for lower grades (1st-7th), and for the higher grades earlier in October. Approximately 2,246 schools were reopened in Mumbai. However, they closed due to the winter vacations and the ongoing rise of Covid-19 cases is making the government rethink the idea of keeping it closed even post the winter holidays.
FPJ-Ed: Mumbai parents opt to volunteer in school to ease current crisis, pitch for offline classes | File Photo

FPJ-Ed: Mumbai parents opt to volunteer in school to ease current crisis, pitch for offline classes | File Photo

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Parents had heaved a sigh of relief when school reopened some weeks ago and talks of possible closure in 15 days (if Omicron cases continue to stay on the upswing) have got the lot all ruffled up. So much so, that many of them are even willing to volunteer in schools to help them remain open and functioning.

Offline schooling in Maharashtra resumed on December 1 for lower grades (1st-7th), and for the higher grades earlier in October. Approximately 2,246 schools were reopened in Mumbai. However, they closed due to the winter vacations and the ongoing rise of Covid-19 cases is making the government rethink the idea of keeping it closed even post the winter holidays.

Surprisingly, parents of lower-grade kids' are eager to keep their kids in the physical classrooms. Few of them are even willing to volunteer in the schools their children are studying in just so that they do not close again.

Parents told Free Press Journal that it is stressful to have kids stay at home and away from a classroom. "We are willing to work closely with schools and ensure that they remain open. We can make certain that SOPs are adhered to and that children continue to learn on campus while being safe,” said Radhika Nahlani, a parent from the Parents Association Mumbai.

She said that minute functioning in the school can also be looked at by parents. ”Be it sitting down with the school authorities and working out a schedule to physical volunteering and working on campus to ensure no overcrowding at pick-ups and drop-off points - or anything else the school requires. We will not shy away from collaborating with schools to ensure the safety of children. We need government support in making sure schools stay open, ” she added.

Parents say that being at home for about two years, children have lost a sense of what school life really is and the seriousness associated with studying. Another parent Aparna Shah proclaims that the virus is anyway here to stay and it is best that people learn to cope with it and fight it. "We will do whatever it takes to ensure that kids are back in the schools and we need to find solutions around the virus. We can discuss practical SOPs with the schools and make sure children keep rules meant to keep them safe. Many of us are working parents but as far as kids are concerned, we are ready to go out and help in any form," she vouched.

Another parent, Gayatri Shah says that the situation in Mumbai is absurd. “Schools are functioning well everywhere but in Mumbai there is an ongoing debate. Children visit places like malls, theatres, restaurants, and parks but attending school seems to be an issue. Children are not allowed in the one place they should be in,” she said.

"Government should listen to the parents. We can see what our children are up to, and we care about them. The first thing government should prioritise should be education. It shouldn't be the last thing that comes to the government's mind. Everything can come later," Mrs. Shah added.

"If I'd known this last week, I would have said that the decision to reopen should've been made right then and there. Right now, I would say that 15 days is understandable because there is a surge in cases. Especially, as a mother who has had Covid, I agree with this decision. However, there have been no fatalities for children below 5. So, if children of this age can recover from it, then why are we stopping schools from reopening?" said another parent Sukanya Shah.

"I understand the current surge in Covid-19. Overall, I do think opening schools is important. The development of a child occurs on several levels, physical, mental, emotional, social, and cognitive. Even if the children manage to study online, social and emotional development takes a back seat and that only a physical classroom can provide," she added.

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Published on: Wednesday, December 29, 2021, 10:41 AM IST
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