CHENNAI: India is under the third phase of the lockdown forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no clarity on when schools and colleges will reopen and how they will maintain social distancing. This has put sportspersons with children and parents of boys and girls who play in a spot of bother. They are worried about the safety of their children.
Table tennis ace Sharath Kamal is enjoying the break and spending quality time with family, but there is a lingering concern. “This break has given me the time to see my children grow up, which I was not able to in the past. My daughter is in the fourth standard and son in kindergarten. It may not be a big problem for him as he is still young and we can manage. But I am worried for my daughter. We do not know when schools will reopen and how they will maintain social distancing,’’ said Sharath.
"At home, it is easy to control children and see that they do not play with anyone coming from outside. But in schools they will play with classmates, eat with them. It will be difficult for them to wear masks and attend classes the whole day. Plus, it will also be difficult to sanitize the entire school every day. I am sure the government will take into account the safety of the children and open schools at the appropriate time,’’ added the World No 31. Ramesh Babu, father of Grandmaster Praggnanandhaa and Woman Grandmaster Vaishali, is concerned about their studies.
“Praggu is in the 10th standard now and Vaishali is in college. At present, both are comfortable playing and learning chess online. The 10th standard is a crucial year in academics. So without knowing when schools will reopen and how things will be post lockdown, it is going to be a problem for Praggu. He has to divide his time and schedule between studies and chess. I pray that things get better and be normal soon,’’ said Ramesh Babu.
Olympian boxer V Devarajan is worried how children will learn to adapt to social distancing when they are in a large group at school.
“My daughter has written her 12th exam and is going to join college. My son is going to seventh standard. To be honest, I am scared to send my son to school as we see that the numbers of coronavirus cases has been increasing. Once you step out of the house, nothing is in your control. We need to be careful. After the 12th exam results are announced, it is going to be difficult to collect application forms from various colleges. Hope they allow students to apply online,’’ said Devarajan.
Former athlete Shiny Wilson is also worried about her son, who goes to college. “We do not know how people will practice social distancing. College life involves travelling and interacting with various departments in a campus. To remain cautious at each and every step every day, is going to be difficult. I hope the government issues strict guidelines for the welfare of the students,’’ opined the four-time Olympian.