The past few weeks have been a lot of government orders going back and forth on the school reopening issue in India. While the push for going back to school comes from concern for the age-appropriate development of children, not all states have taken to it readily, especially in the face of protests by parents regarding the safety of children in schools.
It’s not if our kids are ready to go back to school, it’s about the school’s readiness to welcome our children back to school.
Understandably, parents’ fears are not completely allayed- given the foreboding about the incoming third wave. Parents themselves seem to be divided regarding this. The common argument seems to be about how every other business, including tourism and malls, is functioning. Only schools seem to be perceived as infection hotspots, and understandably so, since children are to be trusted to be safe while away from the eyes of parents.
Asking the right questions can help us arrive at the solution faster than any other method- a decision-making exercise taught in business schools that could be applied to any real-life situation too. In this case, is the child’s school is truly ready?
As regards the danger of sending them to the school itself- the DG of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr. Balram Bhargava has reassured parents that children can handle viral infection much better than adults and it has also been established that they have a lower number of ace receptors to which virus attaches.
Also, the unrest among parents seems to be owing to the misconception that they will have to mandatorily send their children to school. The decision to send their children to school still rests with the parents- schools are required to offer online, in-person, and blended learning too.
Also Read COVID Vaccine for Children: Here’s Your List of Must-Knows about Vaccines, Kids & Schools
However, many parents and educators are (rightly) concerned about the severe ill-effects of exclusive online classes on this generation of kids. Kids are dying to meet their friends, eager to get back to an active social life of their own. Parents are in a quandary over the decision, and mindful decision-making that frees them of the fear is important.
As in any difficult situation, asking the right questions can help us arrive at the solution faster than any other method- a decision-making exercise taught in business schools that could be applied to any real-life situation too.
Here are 16 questions you can ask to assess for yourself if the school is ready to welcome your child back to school.
- Is the entire school staff vaccinated?
- Will the school conduct a walkthrough for parents and show them arrangements made by the school to follow COVID protocols?
- Are benches distantly placed?
- Is the staff (teaching & non-teaching) trained to follow COVID compliant protocols?
- Will the school arrange for vaccine drives once the vaccines are available for kids?
- What will be the arrangement to maintain social distancing at entry-exit gates?
- What will be the arrangement to maintain social distancing at staircases?
- What will be the arrangement to maintain social distancing in classrooms?
- How frequently will schools disinfect shared spaces?
- What is the sanitization protocol for restrooms?
- Will the school consider fewer working hours as this is a transition phase from virtual to physical?
- Will the school ensure different timings for staggered classes to avoid crowding during pick-up and drop timings?
- Are classrooms well ventilated?
- Will the school conduct classes to ensure the emotional and physical wellbeing of children after the school reopening?
- Will the school conduct workshops to educate parents on procedures to be followed before sending children to school every day and procedures to follow after they return from school?
- Will the school conduct workshops to educate parents on how to prepare our children to maintain social distancing with their friends?
Also read: Prioritizing 21st Century Skills For Students In The Post-COVID Classroom
Vaccines for kids are also in the offing. Other examples around the world of how schools successfully welcomed their kids back to school into vibrant, interactive modes of learning, is a great opportunity for us to nurture talent in the post-COVID classrooms.
Who knows? Perhaps this is the beginning of the much-needed reset in our education system.
Also Read: Back To School: 6 Ways To Ease Parents and Kids Into The New Routine
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels
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I am so happy to say that my boys have been on campus for over a year now. It was so necessary for their mental health. Last school year we had some protocols in place, but this year there aren’t any and our school has fared very well. My boys did horribly for the few months we were forced into virtual learning and have been thriving in school. I think its the best thing that Texas, and particularly our district, did. I can understand the hesitations, but we also need to live our lives in my opinion.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Stephanie! This was really helpful.
This year has been stressful sending the kids back to school. I do think our school could do a better job, but we did remote school for 1.5 years and it was horrible. We are just very careful with masks and hand sanitizing.
I see that parents are leaning towards regular school. Thanks for sharing your experience.
This is quite well thought out. The return to a hill is a very complicated one. These questions sseem to be quite helpful.
Thank you, Elise!
It is interesting to find out how other schools in other countries are dealing with Covid. There are a variety of openings and different rules here in the States, depending on the School District. But seems like something is always in the news about it.
My daughter didn’t do well with online learning. She has special needs so school is her main source of friends in many ways. So she needed to go back. But in the states, I think if we asked most of those very good questions you have listed in a lot of school districts, we would all be very disappointed by the answers. Most of the schools are doing the best they can within their district’s rules and the resources they have.
It’s still scary though.
We need to be careful when sending kids to school. One of my friends sent their kid and the school had someone with covid.
Going back to the face-to-face class is still an on going debate here in the Philippines.. I, myself, is not yet confident sending my nieces or eveb my little brother especially during these times of uncertainties.. But as they say, we must all learn to embrace this new normal.. But i hope there is a clear and concrete plans before allowing the children to go back in school
I can understand how difficult it must have been both for kids and parents the last one year. Now that schools have started I think this is a very useful post. I’m gonna share this to my sister who is worried for my nephew. Thanks for writing this.
I feel so sorry for the kids affected by all that is going on now in the school system. A lot of schools have been so disorganized about what their procedures are.
While most parents are ready but to be honest, I am still scared deep down. It is a tough decision and not sure if I am ready for it yet.
Here in the Philippines where vaccination is still at low rate, I wouldn’t dare my kids have a face to face class.. not until we’re all fully vaccinated..