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Is It Safe to Send My Kid Back to School?

“Is there safety in the school?”

“Is school going child safe?”

“Are there any homeschooling benefits?”

These are some of the questions that plague our minds as fathers and parents as well deal with unprecedented times, one that none could have prepared us for.

With kids growing up so fast, raising them right is already a challenge. Now with pandemic in the mix of things, the decision making has gone tot a different level with so many factors to consider.

Go back to January 2020 and no parent would have dreamt about pulling their kids out of school. But with cases being clocked in millions and no vaccine in sight, school is not a safe place for kids to go.

Especially with group activities being a core fundamental of learning for kids in schools, this adds another danger of lack of social distancing in the mix.

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Source : Statista

In epidemiology and public health, one often talk about the three C’s: closed spaces, crowded places and contact. And this describes all the schools in any country.

Covid 19 In Kids

It has been reported by health experts that Covid 19 in kids is less likely to happen, however it also does not translate into kids being totally immune to Covid 19.

A study based in South Korea pointed out that kids above 10 years of age were cause of the virus spread at par with adults. In the same study it wa s also highlighted that kids younger then 10, contributed very less towards the spread.

This particular finding however is contrary to popular parental understanding that kids under 10 are the most potent spreader of the virus. Just rethink the last time your kids had a cold and in no time to whole house was effected with the same condition.

Taking closer look at the data revealed that less mobility of kids under 10 and staying indoors was the main reason behind they causing less transmission.

As kids become mobile, they will in no doubt become larger contributor to the spread and the infection rates will spread. As per the data reveled by AAP and CHA, kids testing positive for Covid 19 has risen to 390,000 cases largely due to more testing as well as emerging from their homes.

Safety In Schools

Below are the basic principles which as a parent one should look at closely:

  1. The best option for children getting to school would be for their parents to drop them off. But if that is not an option, look for limiting the capacity of the bus.
  2. The children and the driver should be physically distanced by at least 6 feet, and everyone should wear masks.
  3. Keep the windows rolled down, if possible.
  4. Symptom checks at school may not be foolproof, but they reinforce the message that parents should keep kids home if they’re sick
  5. Mandatory usage of masks by all student and staff at school. There is also suggestions around the idea of a clear, plastic face shield as a stand-alone face covering for younger children. They’re more comfortable, make it harder to touch the face and easier to see expressions.
  6. Sitting plan for classrooms should have at least 6 ft distance between them as social distancing is the cornerstone for fight against Covid.
  7. Schools should focus cleaning efforts on high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, bathroom doors and sink areas multiple times a day. And some opportunities for touching surfaces could be eliminated.
  8. Bringing more air circulation in classrooms by limiting air cons and allow fresh air to enter the rooms. There is a fear that Covid particle can travel within close rooms ans environment through air.
  9. Staggering and distribute the start and close of the school day
  10. staggering lunchtimes to reduce the number of students who are in the cafeteria so they can socially distance and keep students in their social bubbles, whether they are eating in their classrooms or the cafeteria.
  11. Moving classes to temporary spaces or outdoors to promote social distancing as well as fresh environment.
  12. Holding school in shifts, to reduce class size and decrease the probability of virus spread.

What can we learn from other countries ?

There is a growing chorus to bring back children to school as there is fear of education loss for a whole generation of children. By early June, more than 20 countries had done just that. (Some others, including Taiwan, Nicaragua, and Sweden, never closed their schools.)

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Children at Ringsted Lilleskole , Denmark receive open-air lessons. (Source : Getty Images)

When one looks at the reopening strategies from South Africa to Finland to Israel, some encouraging patterns emerge. Together, they suggest a combination of keeping student groups small and requiring masks and some social distancing helps keep schools and communities safe, and that younger children rarely spread the virus to one another or bring it home.

But opening safely, experts agree, isn’t just about the adjustments a school makes. It’s also about how much virus is circulating in the community, which affects the likelihood that students and staff will bring COVID-19 into their classrooms.

There have been numerous outbreaks as well in schools. Among the worst school wide outbreaks was at Jerusalem based Gymnasium Rehavia, where 153 students and 25 staff were infected in May – June.

Then an outbreak at a New Zealand high school before that country’s shutdown infected 96 people, including students, teachers, staff, and parents.

In Canada, which reopened many elementary schools in with strict distancing, has announced fall plans that allow children to socialize freely in groups of six; each group must stay 1 meter away from other groups of students and 2 meters away from teachers.

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Students eating lunch in Beijing. (Source: Getty Images)

In China, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam where masks are already widely accepted and worn by many during flu season schools require them for almost all students and their teachers. China allows students to remove masks only for lunch, when children are separated by glass or plastic partitions. 

Homeschooling Benefits

In such times a very natural thought in any worried parents mind would be to consider benefits of homeschooling and how to homeschoool their kids.

Statistically speaking, in US alone their are more then 2 million homeschooled kids, which is an average increase of 10 percent year on year. Lets have a look at the homeschooling benefits:

  1. excellent education is one of the biggest homeschooling benefit. There are several benefits that as a parent one sees immediately. But to affirm the claim, data across households having homeschooled kids show that these kids do better is exams as well as competition tests like SAT.
    This can be attributed to better teacher to student ratio or more tailored program to enhance kids talents and learning.
  2. Stress free Environment is a big benefit of homeschooling. There is no external pressure for students to fit in or put on a behavior which is unnatural to them. There is also a check on any illicit activities that kids get into , be it drugs, bullying etc.
  3. Flexibility in curriculum works better for the whole family and is a big benefit of homeschooling. The parent can decide the length of lessons and also decide when to take holidays. Many homeschooled children can enjoy educational breaks with their parents at off seasons during the year. This can tie in perfectly with what they are learning at home at the time.
  4. Better teaching material is another homeschooling benefit for kids. Today parents are free to explore all the resources available over the internet and pick the best one suited for the lesson they want to deliver. There is no need to be stuck to the same course books which get updated once a decade or holds no relevancy.
  5. Homeschooling also allow parents to focus on life skills and other subtle lessons which regular academics courses do not teach or mention. This can involve giving practical examples to kids making them think and connect the dots about how things work in real life.

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