KOLKATA: An overwhelming number of parents in the city are against sending their children back to school immediately, online surveys and virtual meetings conducted by the schools have revealed. The thumping ‘no’ from nearly 90% parents has come despite the schools explaining in detail the SOPs that are to be implemented, including attendance on alternate days for small groups, social distancing at all times, compulsory use of masks and gloves, frequent sanitization drives etc.
Campuses have tentatively reopened in at least eight states and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir from Monday following the Centre’s unlock 4.0 guidelines recommending a limited reopening from September 21 for students of classes IX to XII. The Bengal government, however, has decided to keep all educational institutions shut till September 30.
City schools say they have been reaching out to the parents to decide on a roadmap while waiting for instructions from the government. They claim they had expected parents to be unwilling to send their children back to classrooms just yet but wanted to be ready with an answer if asked by the state for a response on re-opening.
The Heritage School organised a video-conference with parents of students in classes IX to XII over Monday and Tuesday and despite explaining the SOP in place for reopening, about 90% guardians said no to physical classes and even objected to holding science practicals in small groups, principal Seema Sapru said.
Other city schools have had a similar experience during interaction with parents.
“We had sent online forms to parents of classes IX to XII and 85%-90% have clearly said no to reopening. We were a NEET examination centre and handled over 450 students under strict guidelines of the National Testing Agency. We have a whole drill in place but we can’t help it if parents are unwilling,” said Birla High School principal Loveleen Saigal.
Some schools had planned to call in small groups for practical classes if the state gave a go-ahead after September 30, but parents have rejected the idea. An online survey by DPS Howrah found nearly 95% parents unwilling to send their kids to school even for practicals. “We will redo the survey again after the Pujas and see if things have changed at all by then,” said principal Sunita Arora.
At Asian International School, parents coming in for CBSE board exam registration are being asked for feedback and most have informed principal Vijaylakshmi Kumar that they will not send their children even if the campus re-opens.
Loreto Entally is in the process of conducting a survey by this weekend. “Almost every student of class XII has told the school informally that their parents are unwilling to send them back,” said principal Jessica Surana.