KOCHI: Only a few days are left for the schools to reopen after nearly one-and-a-half years due to Covid, but parents and teachers still find many of their concerns unanswered.
The state government has brought out a set of guidelines, but how practical many of them are is the frequently asked question.
“Does cleaning and sanitising the benches, desks, classrooms and toilets and other infrastructure ensure the safety of students?” asked Renu Mathew, mother of a class-3 student of an aided school in Kochi.
The government has also directed the creation of bio-bubbles.
“Students will be grouped based on the places and areas they hail from, but how about the teachers?” she asked.
“The same teacher will be teaching all the students in a class. So, how effective will be the bio-bubble as he/she will be coming in contact with other students? Isn’t the risk of transmission very high in such a situation?” she asked.
Beena Babu, another parent, said: “Though I’m happy to send my son back to school which I feel is good for his physical and mental wellbeing, I am still worried.”
“When it comes to maintaining social distancing, I doubt if students, especially those in the lower and upper primary classes, adhere to the guidelines,” she said.
Reshmi P (name changed), a teacher, said teachers might be able to make the students maintain social distancing in the classroom.
“Bio-bubble might also be maintained. But once the students leave the campus, they will mingle with their peers,” said Reshmi.
Mani K M, another parent, said: “Many parents have opted not to send their wards to the schools. So, they have to be provided with online classes. Won’t this be an injustice to those opting for online classes? They would feel like not getting their due, unlike their classmates who have opted for offline classes. How are the schools planning to mitigate this? The schools could have waited till the start of the next academic year to resume offline classes.”
Agreeing with Mani, Anish T, a teacher, said: “Of course, there will be a difference in quality. Those opting offline will get a real-time experience and grasp the concepts better.”
“It would be taxing for teachers too. They will have to not only conduct online and offline classes, but also take the same concepts multiple times. The entire process will put a lot of stress on the teachers,” he added.
According to Sreedevi P, a teacher, test positivity rate is another cause for worry.
“It’s still above 9% in the state. In other states where schools have reopened, TPR has fallen to 2%,” she said. “So, what’s the guarantee that the students might not get infected?. They will bring home the virus,” she added.
Owners of vans, buses and autorickshaws, which have been transporting students, refuse to conduct services.
“First of all, a lot of work needs to be done to make the buses fit for roads. A lot of money will go into it. So, if the government closes schools later, where will we go?” asked Shibu, a school bus driver. Fuel price hike is another problem.
“With the government telling us to follow the one-student-per-seat criteria, how financially viable will it be for us to operate. We can’t ask parents to shell out more to bridge the gap,” said Shibu, adding this is the situation faced by almost every van and bus driver.