Should schools reopen?

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Amidst the pandemic, there is a debate on whether or not educational institutions should reopen. The state government along with the concerned authorities and stakeholders are scheduled to deliberate on this issue on October 2. But before the fate of schools is decided, NT KURIOCITY asked youngsters for their opinions on this matter

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a drastic change in our lives as students. The enormous problem that we are facing as students is that, it has taken a toll on our education. Children who don’t have gadgets suffer the most. When it comes to online learning, teachers are doing their best to educate us, but still, it feels like something is missing. We miss the face-to-face interactions with our teachers and classmates and above all, we miss the co-curricular activities. I am pretty sure that this thirst cannot be quenched by online learning. But as far as the health of students is concerned it may not be convenient for the government to reopen schools. As far as our education is concerned there’s nothing better than schools. I hope the government reopens schools as soon as possible and I ask the school faculty and staff to ensure proper sanitising facilities when this happens.

Sparkle Goes, St Clara’s High School, Assonora

I feel that the government should not think of opening schools for now. If schools reopen children will be exposed to the novel coronavirus and there is a chance that a whole class or even the whole school could test positive. And since students come from different locations it will be very difficult for the government to track and treat students. The whole purpose of reopening schools will be of no use if there are students in school and teachers in isolation wards. Now with students taking online classes, the government should rather focus on creating a better online platform for schools and increase the network coverage in rural areas. The government should declare the year 2020-21 as ‘zero academic year’ and resume schools directly next year as opening schools will only worsen the situation in Goa. Till then students can be kept engaged with studies through the online medium.

Omkar Kambli, Ribandar

In my opinion, schools shouldn’t be reopened amidst the growing COVID-19 cases in the state as children are most susceptible to infection. Most schools in Goa lack proper infrastructure like clean toilets and regular water supply to wash their hands. Most children commute to school in Balrath buses which if operated with half capacity, will need double the number of buses. Small classrooms and closely placed benches would make it impossible to maintain social distancing and also we can’t expect children to put on their masks continuously during school hours. Recorded online classes sent on WhatsApp or any other social medium is a good alternative to save this academic year. For children below 10 years, this year should be focused more on developing their hobbies rather than worrying about academics, their health and safety should be paramount as they are our future generation. Once the cases start decreasing, schools can reopen initially from class 9 onwards with 50 per cent strength in each classroom. The full-fledged reopening of schools should be done with proper planning and according to the opinions of experts.

Ankita Bhobe, Caranzalem

Schools should not reopen as there is an increase in cases every day so community transmission will take place in the school itself. If there are corrections to be done and the teacher is asymptomatic. S/he would give it to all the students and they will transmit it to their families. I think there should be more advanced software which can be used to deal with exams and assessment.

Clinton Fernandes, computer teacher, Vasco

I think the government should not think of reopening schools any time soon as it’s never easy to maintain social distancing in your colleges or schools. Thus the opening of institutes would just be an invitation for COVID-19 to spread its wings over youngsters. I feel that it’s high time that the government focuses more on online classes until the curve gets flattened in Goa. Online classes are the only way forward as the pandemic has taught us to be digital and we have to accept being digital as the new normal.

Ravi Kamat, Panaji

Educational institutions can’t be kept closed for too long; almost half of the academic year has been wasted due to the pandemic. Online classes are a good thing but since we still don’t have enough infrastructure and good connectivity to make the current educational ecosystem online and many students still can’t afford a computer or a mobile phone. Reopening of classes in phases and continuing with online classes together is a good option to take the situation from the new normal back to a normal situation.

Bhasker Bhandare, IT engineer, Margao

If schools are open there are more chances of coronavirus cases due to mass gathering. On the other hand, if schools are not reopened then children won’t get proper education. There are a lot of issues regarding online education such as no proper network, no availability of equipment such as smartphones or computer, etc. The present situation reminds me of one English lesson ‘The fun they had’ where everything was so digitised that there was no fun in attending school and learning. So, I feel the authority should sit together and discuss the pros and cons and come up with a solution.

Harish Tamankar, Siolim