Mumbai schools to re-open from Monday; parents relieved yet skeptical, teachers say they are prepared

Prerana Pamkar | Updated on: Sunday, January 23, 2022, 11:31 PM IST

Representative Image
 | Unsplash
Representative Image | Unsplash

The debate on whether to reopen schools or not has finally been put to rest. Schools are indeed going to open on January 24, and while for stakeholders across the board (parents, principals, teachers, students), there is a sense of relief, it is mingled with a sprinkle of skepticism.

The Principal of Podar Jumbo Kids School, Swati Popat Vats, said that her school has followed all the prescribed guidelines and has been training teachers and support staff for months. “We also carried out safety drills to ensure teachers and support staff are confident about not only knowing the safety parameters, but are also comfortable with it and are stressfree when working with children.”

Vats also said that children’s safety was a joint effort by both parents and the school.

“We had an online orientation with parents to help them understand that providing children with a safe environment is a joint effort. It is something that both of us have to do together. We ensured that they feel as much a part of this process as the staff,” she said. Ms Vats also heads a private association, called ‘Early Childhood Association’.

Since parents contribute to keeping the children safe, they have a say, too. Mothers from Mumbai explain how they will make sure their children are safe. However, they are also concerned about their child’s behavioural and social aspects.

“Safety is a concern, but kids are contracting Covid-19 sitting at home also. Hence, there should be practical SOPs for schools that are achievable. With school reopening on Monday, my children are beyond excited. They were extremely tired of starting at a Zoom screen. Why wouldn’t they be? Kids want to meet other kids, too. They are tired of online classes,” said Gayatri Shah, who is part of the Parents Association of Mumbai 21, which has been deeply involved in the dialogue to resume physical schools.

Another parent, Sheetal Patel, told The Free Press Journal about the safety measures she will continue even after January 24. “To be honest, I believe that my child is anyway exposed to the same risks at home as she would be outside. When she goes to school, I will do nothing more than the basics I’m doing right now, which is thorough hygiene practice, sanitisation at every step and social distancing for sure.”

Patel added, “When it comes to participating in group activities at school, it does not concern me that much. My child has been going outdoors and meeting friends and she has been safe. In the same way, she will go to school and wear a mask as required. Moreover, my child has been waiting to go to an offline school. She is not even three years old and for her to sit in front of the computer has been harrowing. It is not normal or correct for a child her age to sit in front of the screen and be expected to follow instructions from someone whom she has never physically met.”

Teachers in Maharashtra’s pre-schools have also been informed about the safety measures. They have their own systems of managing the children, especially during lunch and washroom breaks.

“During the 10-minute snack break, pre-Covid, children would all sit together at a table. They would open their tiffin boxes together and share. Given that this is a special circumstance because of the pandemic, we are going to give each child one small table. So, there will be two children on either side of a small table where they will eat their lunch, maintaining sufficient distance,” informed Mubina Sevwala, teacher of Ikigai Global Preschool, Dadar.

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Published on: Sunday, January 23, 2022, 11:32 PM IST