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.
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?
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.