Though the Telangana government has decided to reopen all educational institutions from September 1. Most of the parents, especially those of primary and secondary school students, are not willing to send their wards. They are not ready to take risks as the Covid-19 cases continue and vaccine for children is still not available.
The fear of their children contracting Covid may prompt the majority of parents not to send them for physical classes immediately but wait for a few weeks before making a decision.
The state government on Monday decided to reopen all educational institutions from KG to PG across the state from September 1. The decision was taken by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao at a meeting with education minister P. Sabitha Indra Reddy and senior officials.
With the health department officials stating in their report that Covid situation in the state is under control, the chief minister announced that all educational institutions including Angandwadis will be reopened.
The officials of the education department told the meeting that due to continued closure of educational institutions, students, especially school children, have come under psychological stress and this may have an impact on their future.
Keeping this in mind and after studying all aspects and after taking views of all, the chief minister decided that all educational institutions should be reopened with precautionary measures.
Some states including Andhra Pradesh have already reopened schools. The neighbouring state reopened schools a week ago.
However, on the day when the Telangana government took the decision to reopen all educational institutions, four students of a government-run school in Andhra Pradesh's Krishna district tested positive for Covid-19 in the random sample testing conducted on Monday. Some students of government schools in Guntur and Prakasam districts had also tested positive for Covid after reopening schools in the state on August 16.
The decision of the Telangana government to open all educational institutions has come under criticism from parents. "Instead of opening all institutions in one go, the government should have announced this in phases. Schools above eighth standard should be reopened first and if everything goes fine, physical classes can be resumed for others," said P. Mohan Reddy, whose son is a student of fifth class in a private school in Hyderabad.
The parents recalled that lack of proper planning had led to closure of schools within a few days after reopening in February.
After a gap of nearly 11 months, educational institutions in the state had reopened in February this year. However, due to the surge in Covid-19 cases during the second wave, they were shut down on March 24.
The media reports about experts warning a possible third wave playing up in parents' minds. "The experts have not ruled out a third wave. There were also reports that children may be the worst affected in the third wave. In such a situation, how can we take risks," asked Syed Ashfaq, whose three children are in primary and secondary schools.
While parents agree that continued closure of schools is taking a toll on children's psychological health, they want to wait for some more time to see how the pandemic situation evolves before taking a decision.
"There is still no vaccine for children. If they are fully immunized, parents may be ready to send them but at this juncture not many are willing," said Ayesha Fatima, a teacher at a private school. She pointed out that when schools had reopened for Class 7 and above in February, the attendance was only 25-30 per cent.
Lack of clarity about online classes has also landed parents in a dilemma. While announcing re-opening of all educational institutions, the government did not clarify if online classes will continue for those students whose parents are not ready to send them for physical classes. Most of the parents are of the view that the government should continue online classes till the threat of the pandemic is completely eliminated.