Schools reach out to parents to discuss reopening campuses for primary and middle classes

Parents’ concerns include mask-wearing, sharing of food and water and how to ensure children regularly wash their hands on campus

Following the State government’s announcement that schools can reopen for students of classes 1 to 8 from November 1, schools are scheduling virtual and in-person sessions with parents to handle their queries and receive feedback on what safety measures can be implemented.

This, they say, is in addition to the measures they expect will be specified in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which will shortly be released by the government, as was done when campuses reopened for classes 9 to 12.

“Schools have already started to reach out to parents and are scheduling weekly interactions with them. Their queries at this stage range from whether teaching and non-teaching staff on campus are vaccinated, measures in place to prevent sharing of food and water among students as well as how to ensure children regularly wash and sanitise hands on campus,” said K.R. Maalathi, CEO, Auuro Educational Services, who is a consultant with schools in the city.

Ms. Maalathi said that most institutions were also raising awareness about getting vaccinated, among the parents. “Instead of calling them to participate in large numbers in virtual sessions, schools can have short circle group sessions with parents, regularly, over the next month and collect feedback,” she added.

After nearly 19 months of staying away from campuses, students of classes 1 to 8 will be back, and among the primary queries put forth by parents is the aspect of physical distancing in school transport as well as sharing of food.

“Over 60 percent of parents from our member school are happy that schools are reopening and have welcomed the decision. Among the few concerns raised by parents is whether students will wear masks for prolonged hours and we were asked if they would be allowed to take turns and walk outside of their classrooms between classes,” said N. Vijayan, patron, Unified Self-Financing Schools Association. Owing to concerns regarding sharing of food and water as well as congregating in large numbers, he said that some schools might choose to keep their canteens shut and encourage children to bring food and water from home.

For classes 9 to 12, the School Education Department had insisted on consent forms being filled by parents, and had specified that it was not compulsory for students to come back on campus. For middle and primary school too, the School Education Minister said a few days ago that students will not be forced to come to campus and said that detailed SOPs would be prepared.

“We have been advocating for the district administration and Chief Educational Officers in each district to draw up SOPs applicable to their jurisdiction. There are different concerns in districts that need to be addressed and a common SOP alone won’t be effective,”said S. Arumainathan, president, Tamil Nadu Students Parents Welfare Association. He said that to prepare these safety protocols, schools should actively reach out to parents and get their feedback.

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