Developmental behavioral pediatrician Dr Samir Dalwai, who is also a part of state task force, in an exclusive interview, explains the dos & don’ts to follow after the reopening of schools.
Q: What should the government and schools do to effectively implement the decision?
A: I urge all boards to relax the syllabus. The biggest fear is to complete two years of academic learning in the next six months. It will be stressful for children to cope up with the situation, unless the syllabus is relaxed. Don’t jump to the syllabus directly. Make the children feel happy and relaxed. Let them share the trauma that they have gone through. Then, start teaching.
Q: How can mental health issues be addressed?
A: I am not worried only about infrastructure. How are we going to deal with children back in school? Emotional management and rehabilitation should be the most important part of the syllabus. We do not know what the students have faced at home. Many have seen deaths, starvation and child labour. Rehabilitation needs to be the focus in the first two weeks. Let the children greet, meet and mingle with each other. Some children may show signs of separation anxiety after being at home for too long. They may not know how to behave with different children in the classroom. At the same time, schools must take measures to help special children.
Q: What precautions will have to be taken by schools and parents?
A: Children fortunately have not suffered a lot because of Covid-19. They are protected from its severity and morbidity. However, we will still have to be very cautious.
As far as infrastructure is concerned, one shoe will not fit all; Maharashtra itself is like a huge country. Committees should be set up to ensure the measures are implemented before October 4.
We need to ensure children are dropped to school safely. School buses should not be crowded. Schools should stagger the timings for different children. The government has not made attendance mandatory. However, parents’ approval is needed.
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