Parents in Dubai are concerned about schools reopening for face-to-face learning starting Monday.
Major school groups will return to onsite learning after two weeks of distance learning in January 2022. However, some parents tell Khaleej Times they are still not comfortable with the idea of sending their wards to school when Covid-19 cases remain quite high.
Indumathi Panikker, a Sharjah-based teacher whose 14-year-old son Krishna studies at Indian High School (IHS), Dubai, said, "The school has instructed that to gain access to the distance learning sessions, we must produce a medical certificate that needs to be approved by the school's clinic doctor. Alternatively, you need to provide a Covid-19 positive test report."
Paniker said her son started showing symptoms such as throat pain and fever on Thursday morning.
"By Thursday mid-afternoon, he had a slight temperature as well. Until we provide a report, the school will not allow him to attend classes online. On Friday morning, he was given the link to attend online classes," she said.
"My son has tested positive today. The entire process certainly needs to be streamlined. It needs to be simpler for parents and pupils, and there shouldn't be so many complicated processes in place. Children are more vulnerable to getting sick now."
Children, like adults, have been testing positive, especially over the past few weeks, and anxious parents say everyone should at least be given a choice.
Anuradha Goswami mother of a Grade 9 student of Gems Modern Academy (GMA), says, "I would like him to do online learning as cases have been on the rise. Besides, once the child contracts Covid, the entire family needs to isolate which is posing to be a huge challenge for everyone. In today's day and age of advanced technology, when Internet is hardly an issue in a place like Dubai, why are students deprived of this option?"
"When children need to take an exam at the centre, there is no option. But when schools are capable of giving an option, then why not exercise it? My son, who is 15, took the vaccine six months ago and I had searched the booster dose in all probability is not available for people below 18. That leaves such children unprotected from the virus as immunity from the earlier vaccine must have diminished greatly."
M Kulkarni whose son is a Grade 9 student at Indian High Schools (IHS) Dubai, says, "I feel as parents we should be given the option of distance learning. I know parents are divided about this. The ones where both parents are working, they especially prefer onsite learning. But in another division of Grade 9 there have been a few students who tested positive and then the entire class moved to distance learning."
"Even when someone tests positive in the school bus, only then the entire lot of students travelling in the bus are offered the virtual learning option. There are teachers who move from class to class, and they could also contract the virus and potentially pass it on to others. Although my child is vaccinated, I feel why risk our children's lives however mild the virus may be?"
She adds, "I completely understand this cannot be a permanent solution, but distance learning can at least be offered temporarily to those who want it and once the numbers of infections go down as before, full face-to-face classes can be resumed. Many parents feel the way I do, and we've even written to the head of the institution as well. I've been told a supervisor will call me to discuss the same."
"Besides, I have my mother-in-law living with us who is diabetic, so that's another concern. Till children contract Covid themselves or aren't a close contact, they are not being offered the online option. I feel this is unfair."
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