Friday, December 1, 2023

Ensure safety

Mankind has seen challenges that were thought of in the beginning as insurmountable. But finally we conquered the summits and created new worlds for ourselves. Ours has been a long journey and it will continue till the human race is on the face of this planet. The recent challenge that took mankind by surprise, and made the wheels of life come to a total halt, was Covid-19. Within a matter of days the entire world was engulfed by the pandemic and none knew where it would lead us to. There were some initial decisions by governments around the globe that were taken in haste, all in the interests of human life. But as it was found hurting economy, bringing pressure on all members of society, the ways to relax the lockdown were devised. Now we have reached a stage where one by one things are opening up and the flow of life is again getting back to normal. The last thing that remained was the education institutions. But now those also are beginning to open up. Regular classes for students of Class 6 & above have already started in our state since February 8 and now the government has approved the proposal from the education department here to resume regular classes for the primary section (although the date of reopening of lower classes is yet to be notified). In fact the decision to open schools must have been a difficult one for the concerned authorities. For the school management, it is even more difficult as they have to ensure that nothing adverse happens, since the pandemic is still there. But it is the parents who are in the most difficult situation. On the one hand they do want their children to join schools, as it has now been a very long gap. But on the other hand they are apprehensive about the health and life of their children. As the students have been away from their schools for more than a year, they want to be back in schools. The element of excitement – meeting friends, and playing outdoors – is hard to resist for them. But for the parents the choice is not so easy. After all it is the life of the children that is threatened in case the disease is contracted by them. In this scenario it is not just the SOPs that will have to be followed, but the decision of opening up the schools has also to be closely monitored. What is also important is to make it more calibrated than it is now for higher classes. Rather than attending schools on alternate days (in some schools while in others it is daily ignoring SOPs), it would be better if the children are asked to attend twice a week, and that to for a short duration. That would give all the stakeholders time to observe the situation, and minimize risk. At the same time those who choose to skip schools should be offered offline classes – in whatever format. Sure our reservations and fears about the decision of opening schools for all students may not be all ill placed, but the fact of the matter is that we want them opened up. It is only when all the activities of life resume that the engine of economy will start. The way this pandemic hit economy, it is extremely important that everything is done to make economic levers move. In the overall economic landscape schools have their own importance. So we must look at these decisions from a wider perspective. However, it is extremely important that the opening up of schools is done in a manner that it doesn’t impact adversely life and health of students. It is to be conducted in a manner that infuses confidence in us that we can now go past the restrictions imposed by this pandemic. The most crucial thing in that is to observe the protocol, and stay alert. We need to ensure the safety of our children. Nothing should be done to harm lives, or health of students. And we should not make the opening up of schools an event, but a process. Let the things start moving gradually, but safely.