Omicron and the School Closure Emergency: “Schools and Parents Know Best About Reopening”

By Sonal Nain, 29 Jan 2022

With the Omicron variant raging across the country, schools have been forced to remain closed in person. While other Covid-related restrictions are gradually being lifted, schools in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states remain closed for physical attendance until further notice. 

According to UNICEF, India has had one of the longest school lockdowns in the world. 80% per cent of students have lower levels of learning due to missing physical classes (Ages 14-18). They are losing their ability to communicate and interact socially. A group of parents in Delhi recently petitioned to reopen schools, believing that closing schools are ineffective in containing the virus’s spread and affecting their child’s learning ability.

Mojo Story interviewed parents from various states who have signed this petition to discuss their stance on school closures. While some parents believe the government and schools are not doing enough to ensure their children’s safety and precautions, and are perplexed by the lack of transparency in decision making. Others are concerned about the impact on their children of not adhering to a routine, which affects their learning and growth.

According to Yamini Aiyar, President and CEO of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and a parent, school closures cause more harm than good. She believes that there is a lack of priority in decision-making in India’s education system. It is due to a “combination of elite parents who believe that zoom rooms can be used as a substitute for physical classes, political actors who don’t want to take a strong decision, and an overall environment of consistent fear that has persisted,” she added.

Avnita Bir, Principal of Podar Education, stated that there has been a delay and transparency in making a concrete decision on school closures because “many stakeholders are trying to make a decision, but schools and parents know best about reopening.” She went on to say that online classes do not reflect the pulse of children because some have their cameras turned off and are unwilling to write the offline exams, which has a negative impact on the child’s assessment.