After nine months of no physical classrooms, school students, especially the ones appearing for board exams, are set to put their feet once again in the schools. This decision to reopen came when the vaccine was around the corner, and the active covid-19 cases were below 4.5 lacs with a very low fatality rate. Most states had given a nod to open schools based upon the fresh cases in the area to maintain the safety of the students. From January 4, 2021, schools in various states were opened only for classes 9 to 12. By March, schools of all states will be opened at least for higher classes, though Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, and Orissa have planned to bring back junior students too to the school premises for classes from this week. Uttarakhand and Rajasthan showed few covid-19 cases from school premises, but schools did not stop as the number was not too large. Usually, the plan to begin physical classes is altogether successful.
The necessity of physical classes:
It has been estimated that 70% of the students complained about the lack of interest in the online mode of education.
Though the pandemic forced to halt the classes in their normal course, most schools in India saw the emergence of online classes sooner or later last year. The students were thus compelled to sit in front of their phones, tablets, or computers to attend classes. This resulted in increased screen time and decreased peer-to-peer interaction.
Besides lack of interest, teaching in online mode comes with lots of disadvantages. The most important problem for India in this regard is the inaccessibility of online education in rural areas. Over 90% of schools in rural areas and villages suffered from network and technology issues. Even the educators felt the modern technology difficult to use. Apart from these, various physical and co-curricular activities and tight exam schedules which make the student life active and disciplined were missed altogether. All these issues hastened the process of reopening the schools considering the safety of the future of our nation.
Measures and precautions in new normal:
The schools are sanitised and SOP with any covid-19 symptoms with proper use of face masks and sanitizers are made compulsory now.
From January 4, various schools have reopened across few states with less capacity than usual. To put some light on statistics, Puducherry opened with 50 percent attendance from classes 1 to 12 for 3 hours only, schools of Bihar and Pune showed that students are turning up less than expected, and all other schools adhered to more or less these rules with compulsory use of face masks and hand sanitizers. A few of them even issued a mandatory notice to attend school only after the negative covid-19 report. Some schools set up a basic check of temperature using a thermal gun. Social distancing was observed well in classrooms as well as no tiffin time was provided for time being. Some schools opted to provide tiffin hour with strictness in no sharing among students. In February, the rest of the states too are beginning offline classes at least for 9 to 12.
Apart from the new normal due to covid-19, measures like fewer homework classes not from early mornings and mock exams are undertaken by few city schools to give time for students to get adjusted in physical mode of education. Some state governments have also helped students financially to continue education during and after the pandemic.
The reaction of parents:
At the beginning of January, when the reopening of schools was the main topic of discussion, several parents opted not to send their children to schools until all were vaccinated. This was the main reason for less attendance in the early days of reopening. But now when vaccination has been started and there was hardly any surge in covid-19 cases from school in the last one month, most of the parents want a normal course of education physically for their wards. The secondary and higher secondary students are the main focus for guardians and school authorities as board exams are not to be taken lightly.
The pandemic had made parents over-protective and they are finding difficulty in their wards to get back to their active lifestyle again. Usually, parents are seen taking their wards to schools now instead of pre-covid transport like pool cars or buses. It is a good sign among people to take care of the students so that they can be safe.
How parents and children get ready for normal life:
Regular exercises and coming out with masks and sanitizers are to be practiced by everyone.
This is the need of the hour that one cannot neglect. Everyone must get back to their normal course slowly as the active cases are dropping. Shaping the future and moving on is very important in everyone’s life. Morning walks, freehand exercises, or workouts must be adopted by each one of us. Even children should follow this to prevent obesity and various diseases that may show up in the future due to a year-long sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, meeting with relatives and friends, obviously not in a crowded area, must be started again taking proper precautions so that mental stability and social behavior are normalized once again. The food habits and daily routines too must be reframed again as it was a year ago.
As the world is getting back in the normal flow behind the masks and mass vaccination drive, we as individuals must not take the pandemic too lightly now. The students, who are the future of the nation must again get back into their routine school and study realizing the importance of basic education in our lives.