Re-Opening of Schools & Child’s Safety During COVID-19 Times
Created by Narayan Updated on Apr 18, 2020
The beginning of the year 2020 had been marked with a viral infection that became a pandemic so fast that even the schools had to close abruptly. By the time the schools were found to be the hot transmitters of the disease, many were in the process of scheduling the final exams for the academic year. Some others were in the middle of the exams when they were forced to shut.
As of now, we do not see an end in sight for the Coronavirus pandemic, but many countries which saw the worse phase are looking at recovery now. This has prompted many to debate whether schools and colleges can be opened for regular academic activities.
The opinions though differ all around, share similar concerns and perhaps also look for similar solutions. Here are updates from across the world on what different countries are doing about it:
India - Going Through Total Lockdown
As of now, the country is in total lockdown, and as per the latest updates, the lockdown is to continue till 3rd May. All schools and colleges had to declare mandatory holidays for the students and staff. Few schools have been running online classrooms for the benefit of the students.
Meanwhile, professional colleges IITs and IIMs have also been turning to online academics to continue the academic calendars. At the beginning of this month, the country’s education minister informed that the opening of schools and colleges will depend entirely on the situation of lockdown and Coronavirus status.
With the extension of lockdown and Coronavirus situation still not showing any sign of weakness, we do expect schools to stay shut for an extended period.
Waiver of Fees & Support to Parents
Apart from the question of when the new academic year will start, the present situation has also demanded a review of normal school activity. Many states in India, including Delhi, have asked the schools to support students and parents during these tough times.
While many schools took the pause due to lockdown earlier, students of Class VIII and below were later promoted without exams to the new academic year. Here’s what the States in India have done for the students so far:
Delhi education minister has asked schools not to increase the school fee and charge only tuition fee for one month instead of three, which had been the trend earlier.
Rajasthan government has already announced that schools cannot collect fees until the situation returns to normal.
Other states which have already imposed restrictions on fee collections from schools include Punjab, Odisha, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu
These states and the Central Board of Secondary Education has also announced that the students except for 10th and 12th standards, should be promoted to the next standard.
Board exams for 10th and 12th standard will be held once the lockdown is over, depending on the COVID-19 situation in the country.
The UK & The Rest of Europe
Head of UK’s largest academic trusts, Hamid Patel, had requested the government to set aside a deadline for the schools to start functioning again. The UK government, however, insisted that they would monitor the situation and only decide on opening the schools again when there is scientific evidence that it will be safe to do so.
Few of the least affected countries in Europe, like Denmark, have already started opening the pre-schools and starting classes for children up to the age of 11. Whereas, Germany is considering a phased opening of schools and shops to ensure social distancing and sanitization can be maintained.
Australia & Newzealand
Australia seems to be doing great as far as Coronavirus spread is concerned. The government could avert a huge number of infections by following and strictly implementing social distancing norms and closing all non-essential commerce activities.
The federal government in Australia did advise the states to allow schools to open after scientists declared children to be at low risk of spreading COVID-19. However, states have kept the schools closed for now deviating from the federal mandate.
The Australian government is still trying to work out a middle path, where they can continue the academic year of the children and provide assistance online to those families wary of sending their kids to school.
The USA & Canda
In the USA, one of the worst-hit countries from Coronavirus pandemic, all states seem to have an opinion on the subject. But, one common factor which in their judgement is that they don’t jump the gun on the infection, and restart school activities too early.
While some states favour phased easing of movement and commerce restrictions, others are still monitoring before deciding anything. However, most of them share a concern on how to get the economy moving without affecting the COVID-19 curve in the country.
Canada is facing a similar dilemma as Australia in this matter. While few provinces like Quebec, are open to start schooling for the children, considering them at lower risk of infection. Health officials and parents are vary of increasing the exposure for children. Other provinces, however, have decided to keep the schools closed till 4th May, and will decide as the situation develops.
What About Colleges & Universities?
While the universities worldwide are not running in-person classes, they are continuing the academics remotely through online classes. Some of the international universities, including Boston University, are expecting closure of normal academic activities till 2021.
Safety of students and faculties among other staff are the utmost concern for most educational institutions governments and parents. Thus, until a dramatic improvement is registered in the COVID-19 spread or a breakthrough is sighted for prevention the education is expected to continue remotely.
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