CHENNAI: L Pushpa heaved a sigh of relief on Thursday as Pongal holidays started and her daughter, studying in class 12, need not go to school till January 18. With Covid cases rising sharply, sending her daughter Shriya to school everyday has become a bothersome experience for Pushpa.
“Every day, when she ventures out for school, I am really worried as caseload has increased significantly. I keep on reminding her to not take off her mask. After she returns from school, I ensure that she bathes with hot water, gargles hot water and drinks kashayam,” said Pushpa.
“I spent every day in fear worrying about the safety of my son. Just thinking that he might get infected due to his carelessness in school is scary,” said Mamatha Ravindran, a resident of Madipakkam whose son studies in class 10. “I feel the government should close the schools for classes 10, 11 and 12 for the time being. Once the caseload starts declining, we can resume physical classes.”
However, some don’t agree with calls to close down schools. “These are difficult times and I genuinely don’t know what is the solution for this problem. I have old parents at home and I am worried more about them as they can get the virus through our son. But it is also a fact that I cannot stop him from sending to school. Last year, all class 10, 12 students were passed without appearing for board exams, but we cannot continue with such process as it will affect their learning and career,” said K Prabhakar, an IT employee whose son studies in class 12.
The State government had told the Madras High Court recently that in-person classes are purely optional. However, majority of the schools in the State are conducting only offline classes for classes 10-12. Tamil Nadu Teachers Association president PK Ilamaran said they are helpless and cannot advocate closure of schools as there is no substitute for physical classes.
“From our experience, we know that online classes do not benefit poor and rural students. Also, many students are not able to gain much (from online classes). If board exams are going to take place, then we will have to prepare the students and this cannot be done without physical classes,” said Ilamaran.