More than 12,000 schools conducted meetings with parents for views on reopening schools for Classes IX to XII from November 16. In districts such as Chennai, Chengalpet, Kancheepuram, Trichy, Ranipet and Vellore, parents of students of private schools wanted the reopening postponed, while a majority of those of government school students wanted them reopened.
S Baskaran, whose daughter is a student of Vidyodaya Girls Higher Secondary School in T Nagar, said it would be ideal to reopen schools in January 2021. Thiagarajan Dhandapani, whose child studies at GRT Mahalakshmi Vidyalaya Matriculation HS School in Ashok Nagar, said a second wave of Covid-19 was happening worldwide. “We don’t know what is going to happen next.”
Some said students are not taking online classes seriously. “They are not paying attention and are not writing any tests. Schools should reopen at least for board exam students and physical classes may be conducted on alternate days,” said Devi, whose daughter is a student of Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Ashok Nagar. Online classes are frequently interrupted due to network issues, she said.
Shivakumar, another parent, said motivation to attend online classes was poor. “The government should consider dropping the entire academic year,” he said.
Agnes Rita, principal of GRT Mahalakshmi Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School, said around 80% of the parents who attended the meeting on Monday said they were not willing to send their children to school.
B Purushothaman, senior principal, Everwin Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Kolathur, said 56% of parents who attended the meeting didn’t want schools to reopen.
CBSE schools also conducted meetings with parents most of whom were against sending their children to schools. “Parents of students who will appear for the board exams are worried about practicals,” said R Srinivasa Raghavan, principal of Bala Vidyamandir Senior Secondary School, Adyar.
In government schools, a significant portion of parents wanted them reopened. “Parents who are doing casual jobs feel their children would be safe at schools. But those from middle class backgrounds worry about monsoon season and a possible second wave of Covid-19,” a government school headmaster in Chennai said.
M Mercy, headmistress of Syed Murthuza Government Higher Secondary School in Trichy, said two-third of parents wanted schools opened, believing their children can learn better in a classroom atmosphere.