The Karnataka government is considering reopening schools in July. However, many parents are not keen on sending their children to classes yet, amid rising Covid-19 cases in the state.
Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister Suresh Kumar on Tuesday said that a decision would be taken after consulting parents of students in government, aided and unaided (private) schools.
The State disaster management cell will also be consulted to take a decision on social distancing norms, the appropriate date for reopening and other precautionary measures that need to be taken.
However, the announcement has been met with a lot of opposition from students' parents.
Commenting on a Facebook post by the minister, user Narayan Hegde said, "no classes till zero cases".
Kumar responded by saying that coronavirus did not come in a day, and would not leave in a day, as well. "Let us be practical," he wrote.
Rakesh V, another Facebook user commented, "teachers, parents, children not happy with online classes. Coronavirus can spread through parents and grandparents too since other sectors have reopened (sic)."
A change.org petition started against the reopening of schools until there are zero cases in Karnataka, or a vaccine is made available, has received close to 5 lakh signatures.
"I have a child younger than 10 years old. On one side you say they shouldn't step out and then you say they can go to school. Why is the government in such a hurry to open everything when cases are increasing everyday. Let vaccine be found then we will see, said Madhu, a parent.
Sushma, another parent, said she won't send her two kids to school for an "experiment".
Gopal raised the issue of social distancing in schools. "You collect fee and start classes. Some classes have 60 students. If you start classes and somebody has Covid-19, you will seal the entire school. What after that?" he asked.
But there are also parents who want schools to reopen due to a myriad of reasons.
"We are only worrying about coronavirus from the point of view of younger children. But there are tensed students in Class 10 and 12, who have to face board exams," pointed out Anitha.
"Their mental health is being affected. There are no tuitions too. Online classes are dicey because internet might be weak. So all this must be taken into consideration," she said.
Meanwhile, Raju, a factory worker from Mysore is unsure of how parents can return to work when children are at home.
"I have two children - one in pre-primary school and one studies in Class 3. Now work has resumed for my wife and I. If schools don't reopen, who will take care of them? We don't have an alternative. The government must ensure precautionary measures and reopen schools," Raju said.
The Department of Education plans to start regular classes for Standard 4 to 7 from July 1. For students in Classes 1 to 3, and 8 to 10, session is planned to start from July 15.
As the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SLCC) examinations were scheduled to be held from June 25 to July 4, senior teachers will be enlisted for evaluation work. Thus, senior classes will start only from July 15.
Kindergarten classes could begin from July 20, a circular from the department said. Admissions that were halted in March can resume from June 8.