The Government of Manipur has recently issued an order for reopening of all Government, Government Aided, private and affiliated to CBSE schools from 8th August, 2022. The Government issued the order keeping in view the importance of education of young children and in order to bring a sense of normalcy in their lives. Earlier the state government has ordered all schools not to conduct physical classes below 12 years of age up to class VII and schools to remain closed for these students till 7th of August, 2022. According to the order issued by the State Government all the schools has started conducting physical classes for class VIII and above since 25th July, 2022. Also the schools have been conducting online classes below class VIII.
On interacting with some parents of different schools, they expressed mixed reactions on the state Government’s decision on re-opening of schools from 8th August 2022. A father of class VI and pre-nursery from Wangkhei, Imphal East expressed that the hasty decision of the State Government on re-opening of Schools below class eight is not appreciable as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state is with three digits and positivity rate is above five percent. He said that as of now he will not send his ward to school until the active case is reduced to single digit. As the number of students in the school where his son is studying is around few thousands, there is no possibility of social distancing. At the same time, the number of students in the school van is also terrifying. Children below the age of 12 years are still vulnerable to COVID-19 as there is no vaccine for this age group. It is highly risky for children to expose in a campus with huge number of students where COVID-19 SOP is not strictly followed.
Another father from Lilong, Imphal West narrated that he is in a dilemma whether his two daughters of class III and Pre-nursery will be sending to schools or not. Considering the academic point of view the government’s decision is good. On the other hand, he feels fear of sending his daughters to schools as they are not vaccinated for COVID-19 and are not fully aware of the COVID-19 protocol. There exist many differences between online and physical classes. Problem of network and not affordable of mobiles and other electronic gadgets are the main issues of online classes, he added.
A mother of class III and nursery students from Naharup Awang Leikai, Imphal East asserted that she is ready to send her sons to school as other students are too will be attending their classes. As online classes are not effective, students become dull and their seriousness of reading habits and competiveness are declining day by day. The physical classes allow students to pay more attention to their studies. She appeals the government to make vaccine for children of all age group. Once all the children are fully vaccinated for COVID 19, all the parents will of great relief being worrying of re-opening of schools.
Another mother from Kwakeithel Mayakoibi, Imphal West, said that she appreciates the government’s decision on re-opening of schools. Closing of schools for the last two years had badly affected the mental and psychology of the students. The physical classes increase the cordial relation between the teachers and students whereas online classes could not provide an atmosphere of active participation of students in the class. She is ready to send her class VII and III sons to schools with precautionary measures of COVID-19. Mentioning about the coaching and tuition centres, she said that these centres are allowed to continue their classes while all the schools remain closed. So re-opening of schools seems to be a right decision.
A parent from Sagolband Sayang Pukhri Mapal, Imphal West narrated that the physical classes create good relations and allows interaction among students and teachers unlike in the online classes. She said that the timing of online classes of her daughter coincides with her office hour. As the online classes need someone to assist the students particularly the small kids, it is a problem for working parents. Though the cases of COVID-19 cases decreases in the state in last few days but still there is chances of spreading the disease in school vans where social distancing is not at all possible with the re-opening of schools.
Another parent of class II who is a resident of Babupara, Imphal West expressed that she is not happy with sudden order of the Government on re-opening of all schools of all the classes without full vaccination. As there is no COVID -19 vaccine for children below 12 years of age, parents started giving their children FLU Vaccine as a precaution against various viral diseases. The vaccine is available at some selected private hospitals and the price of the vaccine is high which is not affordable by all the parents. She appealed the government to provide the FLU Vaccine free or in a subsidized rate till there is availability of COVID -19 vaccines for children under 12 years of age.
The mixed responses from the parents of school going children below 12 years of age, on the recently issued order of the Government on re-opening of Schools, indicates that there are parents who are not willing to send their wards to schools. The parents would be happy if the Government order on reopening of school is a convincing and acceptable one for all of them. The pertinent question here is ‘which is more important life or education’? Every one of us needs to follow the COVID-19 protocol. Lets fight together for a COVID free World.