Pediatric Task Force member and leading Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician Dr Samir Dalwai in an exclusive interview explains dos & don’ts after reopening of schools.
Q: What should the government and schools do for effective implementation of its decision?
A: I urge that all the boards to relax the syllabus as parents are extremely stressed. Biggest fear is to complete two years of academic learning in next six months. It will be stressful for children to cope up with the situation unless syllabus is relaxed. Directly don’t jump to syllabus but make children feel happy, relax, let them share their trauma that they have gone through and later start teaching from the syllabus. The Task Force has suggested not to immediately jump to syllabus and portion as it was easier for children to sit at home. But now to get back to schools after year and half directly shift to fifth gear may be very dangerous for the children.
Q: What precautions will have to be taken by schools & parents?
A: Children fortunately have not suffered a lot because of COVID 19 as they are protected from the severity and morbidity. However, we still will have to be very cautious about trying our best to prevent the children from catching the virus as vaccination is not universally available yet.
As far as infrastructure is concerned, it cannot be one shoe fits all because Maharashtra itself is like huge country. The school and local administration should now set up local committees and start implementation of measures before October 4 so that we are very well prepared. I would urge the schools and local administrations to start some kind of a drill so that they are able to put all things in place.
The other important aspect is the way the care of children to be taken at schools and back homes. We should avoid packing children tight in vans, crowded buses and schools should stagger the time for different children. The government has not made it a mandatory attendance but parent’s nod has been made essential as anything which is forced will have negative reaction.
Q: How the metal health issues can be addressed?
A: I am not worried about just infrastructure but how are we going to deal with the child back in school. Emotional management and rehabilitation should be the most important part of the syllabus as many children must be coming to school for them it may be a respite. We do not know what they have faced at homes, may have seen deaths, starvation and child labour. Rehabilitation needs to be focused in the first two weeks. They should not be in academics but let the children greet, meet and mingle with each other. For many children there may be suppression anxiety as they have been at their homes with parents spoon-feeding them suddenly may be causing separation anxiety.
They may not know how to behave with different children in the class rooms. At the same time, schools must take measures to help special children.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)