New Delhi: The lockdown is long overdue, business is booming, malls are crowded, restaurants are recording business improvements and families are going on a long-delayed holiday. And yet, when it comes to reopening schools, parents begin to suspect that their children are at risk of covidia because they have not been vaccinated. Around the world, experts insist that schools are not super-spreaders and that children are wasting valuable time at the risk of their mental, emotional and educational development at a crucial time in their lives.
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When it comes to children, governments face a dilemma. The Delhi government has called for parental consent for classes IX to XII, which is open only for practical and project work. There is a clear division in the response of parents in public and government schools. Alumni are wealthy and cautious about taking any chances but others are finally relieved to send their wards to school because online classes were difficult and there was no way to cut the digital divide. Most principals, be they public or private schools, even experts believe that children should return to school now. They say that if schools are not opened now, it will be too late to fill the gaps in education and for children to grow up emotionally and socially well. Many of them feel that the need for parental consent should be eliminated.
The principals say they have found that the children are happy to return to school in about 1 18 months. On September 1, the Delhi government opened schools in the capital for practical and project work for students in grades nine to twelve. An expert committee set up by the government to reopen the schools suggested that the eighth grade be reopened from September to September. However, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) was silent on the matter and the students were at home.
Since the reopening, attendance in public schools has been between 80% -90% but the response in private schools has been mixed. Attendance has been better for tenth and twelfth grades than in IXth and XIth, obviously driven by the need for preparation for boards. But in some prominent organizations, attendance is as low as 5% -10%.
The principal of one such school in West Delhi, who did not want to be identified, questioned the parents’ hesitation. “If it doesn’t happen now, it will be too late. Children feel comfortable studying at home and so do parents who do not consent. When kids are going to the mall and for the holidays, why not send them back to school! Classes III to XII are easily opened and it is difficult to understand the reluctance of the government to do so. At her school, attendance is as low as 5%. He said he was particularly concerned about children studying under the EWS quota, who do not have full access to digital infrastructure.
The Annual Status Education Report 2020 highlighted that only 11% of all students enrolled in both public and private schools are taking online classes and 21.5% are using recorded video classes. The National Statistical Organization (NSO), which highlights the fully digital divide, said the capital has the most internet access. It was only 55% home.
There are schools like Sirjan School, Model Town, where only twelfth grade students are coming for practical classes. Parents withhold their consent for others.
“The students are very happy to be back in the classroom,” said Tania Joshi, principal of The Indian School. “Many said they were unable to express their opinions or express doubts during the online class. Direct contact with the teacher is important and many times they could not say anything due to peer pressure or other reasons. Even for subjects like fashion studies, practical classes in a lab are crucial.
Divya Bhatia, principal of Amity International School in Saket, agreed. “Students can meet with friends and learn with their peers, but parents are still worried that they have not been vaccinated.”
However, epidemiologist and public health expert Dr Chandra Chandrakant Laharia said vaccination should not be a prerequisite for opening a school. “We are already lagging behind. Currently everything is open except school. They should have ended and opened first because scientific evidence shows that schools are not super spreaders, ”he said.
This is why some prominent schools are conducting orientation programs to build the confidence of parents. LV Sehgal, Principal, Balbharati School, Gangaram hopes that parents will ensure in time that their children will be safe in school.
Parents of government school students, however, are pushing for the resumption of all classes. Rati Ram Meena, Principal, Government Boys Senior Secondary School, RK Puram, said, “We need to introduce more junior classes. For them, semi online activities are held and not everyone attends online classes. Join the school. Help them learn better.” Will, ”he said. Another principal of a government school in Seemapuri, who did not want to be identified, said: “We want to open our school because parents ask when. It is not in our hands. We can’t do anything unless the government moves forward, ”he said.
“We have a large number of students, and if students from sixth to twelfth grade start coming, it can be difficult to accommodate them in the classroom. But shifting can be an option to run the school, ”said Sunil Kumar June, an English teacher at Ghitarni Government Boys Senior Secondary School.
AK Jha, Principal, Government Co-ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Sector No. Rohini, said, “We have created a schedule in which children of each batch of a class come to school twice a week. With this arrangement, junior school students can easily join,” he said. .
Once all students have returned, the process of repairing the damage must begin. “Teachers can help students regain their confidence and from where it comes back in terms of the learning skills of many of them. It has to be a long process – over a year – to compensate for their acute neglect,” said Anita Rampal, professor and alumnus. Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Delhi. The National Assessment Survey, announced in November, will put undue pressure on teachers and impede the process of patiently returning children. ”
Experts suggest that state and district academic bodies must work with teachers to ensure a carefully re-imagined curriculum, not to delete certain topics or chapters mechanically.
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