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11/06/2020 Can Schools Open Before September?

Can Schools Open Before September?

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There has been a lot of pressure on Government to consider opening schools especially as there are lots of children that don’t have access to online learning or distance learning. Increasingly as parents return to work, they will be at a loss on what to do with their kids while at work. Again, let’s not forget that private schools are businesses and going concerns if they continue to remain closed. Will they survive when they can eventually open?

But the big question is how do we ensure the safety of the children? How do we prevent an outbreak? Looking at the safety requirements, can both public and private school realistically implement them?

  • Wearing PPEs – Should children wear masks when they resume? As I go out, I see adult wear “chin masks” and not face masks. Most adults have struggled to wear the face masks for up to an hour. Do we see children wearing the masks for even up to 30mins?
  • Temperature screening: Another expense to include in ensuring safety. Apart from the expense, there is the logistics issue of implementing this. Pick up and drop off is already a nightmare in some schools. Imagine adding temperature check to drop off process.
  • Frequent handwashing – do public schools have sufficient resources and clean water to implement this?
  • Social distancing – Can the current infrastructure in both private and public schools support this? Both in the classrooms and other places like cafeterias, hallways, play areas etc.? What is the implication on social distancing of class size and resource requirements? Would teachers be required to work two streams (morning and afternoon) to make this work?

Can physical distance work for all children? Physical distancing is more practical for older students than younger ones, educators say.

What about social distancing during commute to and from school – in public buses or even school owned buses? Can schools afford to increase number of school buses?

  • Routine Cleaning – It is recommended that schools would need to routinely disinfect frequently touched surfaces – door handles, railings, etc. Will a number of schools be able to survive under these additional expenses that they might not be able to pass on to parents? Also considering the required reduced numbers per class.

While I really would like to see my children back in school (for my state of mind and productivity), I know their lives and health is way more important. As a parent, I am not yet persuaded that going back to school is the right thing to do. The number of new cases is not dropping consistently. So, if schools open in June or July, I can confidently say my children would not be returning.

Share your thoughts. What would make you consider allowing your children to resume school?

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