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Reopening Schools

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It is reported that the government has amended the rules for reopening of schools by withdrawing the provision that schools take responsibility if a student gets infected with Covid-19. It was the school operators’ contention that there is no way it can be determined where the student catches the infection, as they have a life outside of school, too. The government’s acknowledgement of this reality clears the decks, now, for students of classes ten and twelve to attend school in the first phase.

The lockdown has been harsh on all students, fifty-one percent of whom reportedly had no contact with a teacher during the entire period. It has been particularly so on class twelve students, who have to appear for exams that determine the future course of their lives. Having been unable to smother the virus through the lockdown process, the challenge now is to learn how to live with it – bring back as much normalcy in functioning while observing the processes that have been proven to work – masks and social distancing, along with basic good hygiene in all activities.

It will be a big challenge for the schools, be it government or privately owned ones. While government schools are usually strapped for even the most basic facilities, the private ones have been badly hit financially because a large number of parents refused entirely to pay the fees, even those with incomes unaffected by the pandemic. This goes to show how little respect they have for the teachers, as well as the establishments they were so eager to have their children admitted to in the first place. They wanted all the advantages but were unwilling to take responsibility when required. That is human nature and little can be done about it. When next they talk morals and idealism, however, the schools should remind them of it.

It remains to be seen how the challenge is met, because it is obvious that it will not be possible to deal with the children all at once. Will they teach in shifts? How much pressure will teachers and staff be able to take in the effort to enforce the protocols among those naturally disposed to be unruly? What about teachers and children whose health is compromised for some reasons? What assistance will the government provide in this crucial phase? It is hoped that with the willing cooperation of all, these and other challenges will be successfully overcome and life brought back on even keel.