Don’t Reopen Schools

THE coronavirus pandemic is ensnaring a large number of people, questioning the rationale behind   the move to reopen schools in Goa. The Centre has proposed staggered reopening of schools from September 21.  Is it a prudent decision  to reopen the schools when, on an average, the country clocks in 90,000 COVID positive cases every day?  Will it not be like throwing our children into the jaws of death by reopening the schools? Should India follow some European countries  like Switzerland, which have reopened their educational institutions? Elicit the view of parents on school reopening; they will certainly  say no to the move. It has been said that schoolchildren  will not be exposed to COVID risk,  if all precautions are taken. This  argument just does not hold  any water. India is not Switzerland. Both the countries are as different as chalk and cheese.  Coronavirus  cases have been on  the decline in Switzerland, where  everybody is strictly following the COVID norms. The schools that had been reopened in France, Italy and Germany had to be closed after COVID cases were reported among the students. The Goa government cannot throw caution to the wind by reopening  the schools before a cure or an antidote to the virus is available. Children will be caught in a perfect storm:  they will  contract  the virus if schools are reopened at this critical juncture when the community transmission is entrenched. The parents are not ready to send their children to schools just yet. Most of the parents want a reduction in school syllabus;  they want online classes to continue. They also want exams to be held online, considering this year as a gap year so that no student will lose the academic year. The parents  do not think much of changes in seating arrangements, masks, sanitisers and temperature checks. Skies will not fall if schools are closed for a few more months. School reopening at this dreaded time will be like opening a Pandora’s box.  Prevention is better than cure which – in the case of coronavirus – is still elusive. The ball is in the court of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. 


Worship In COVID Times

THIS is with reference to the letter ‘Resuming church services’ by Robert Castellino (NT, September 15, 2020). Churches cannot be faulted or blamed for keeping  senior citizens out of church services, for the simple reason that a freehand has been given to them by the Archbishop House to conduct the services freely. They are mandated to conduct the services without violating the standard operating procedures and protocols issued in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Senior citizens are happy with the  online streaming of  masses that are available at any time of the day. Let us also recall what Jesus Christ said to the Samaritan woman at the well who wanted to know what true worship is: “The hour is coming when you shall worship the Father neither on the mountain nor in Jerusalem – but the hour is coming and indeed is here when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for that is the kind of worship the Father wants” (John, 4: 21, 23). How very true, especially in these times of the pandemic that has taught us what true worship is without having to go to  a  church or a place of worship.