Reopened schools bring a moment of joy long denied
After 543 days, most schools and colleges finally reopened on Sunday to the delight of students and teachers. On the first day, schools opened amid a festive mood and were buzzing with students who were overjoyed at being able to see their friends after such a long time and get back to in-class learning. Many schools welcomed their students with flowers, chocolates, pens, pencils and so on. Teachers were also seen dressed up and excited. From our vantage point, the first day of schools reopening was a success, albeit with minor hiccups.
The most glaring among those hiccups were the scenes of parents crowding outside of different schools. According to several reports published by this daily, getting students to follow the health guidelines—i.e. maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands—was relatively easy for the teachers and school authorities. It was the parents who were violating the rules outside of school gates. By gathering outside of the gates in large numbers, many without masks, these parents were not only risking their own health, but that of their children and also the school staff. We are greatly disturbed by their lack of awareness or, if they were aware, their lack of willingness to follow the health guidelines—both equally concerning. If children otherwise preoccupied with the thought and delight of meeting their friends after so long can remain conscious of following guidelines, why can't their guardians?
The performances of the majority of school authorities as well as the government authorities were commendable. And they mostly did an excellent job of preparing the necessary facilities for students to safely return to schools. However, it has to be kept in mind that this is a marathon and not a sprint. And schools have to maintain this level of performance consistently, as any laxity amidst a still-dangerous pandemic could lead to dire consequences.
Unfortunately, not all schools were able to reopen on Sunday. Some 400 schools affected by floods in different parts of the country were forced to remain closed due to waterlogging. Although the school authorities have been attempting to take classes elsewhere, we call on the government to assist them to return to normal school functions at their institutions as early as possible.
What has been obvious on the first day of school reopening is the sheer joy experienced by students at being able to return to their schools, which makes learning fun and that much easier. In order to keep the schools open in the long run, the authorities have to ensure that health guidelines are consistently followed without exception, so that the virus cannot spread there leading to further school closures. This will be a tough task, but one that must be successfully carried out.