THERE will be backlash for this, but… to all the parents who loudly disagreed with the reopening of schools on a recent social media poll; I need to ask what is it that you are smoking? What magical powder are you sprinkling in your morning mug of tequila?
I am not asking the parents who had serious reasons for wishing to keep their children at home. Not the parents whose children have underlying conditions, but those who didn’t want schools to open because their beloved fruits of the womb don’t like to wear masks.
Guess what Shirley? My son doesn’t like to wear jockeys but in order to keep his jewels from chaffing he has to wear them.
A leaked draft policy from the Ministry of Education on the reopening of schools caused quite a bit of hub bub this past week, especially amongst the sanctimommies whose precious babies needed not to venture back out into the scary virus-filled world.
Here’s the thing, if you can comfortably say you do not want schools to reopen and if they do, you will keep your child home and school them from the safety of your bosom, you have a certain level of privilege that the majority of parents in Trinidad and Tobago currently do not have.
Schools have been shut for four full terms, in that time we have seen an increase of school drop outs or children falling dangerously behind. Why? Simple, not everyone has access to a reliable device, not every child has the familial support to keep up with their studies.
School packages were distributed, but with many parents out of work, many of them simply did not have the money to get transport to and from the schools to collect these packages. Also some parents simply don’t care.
In 2020 the Children’s Authority reported an increased number of child abuse reports. School, for many children was a safe haven away from a toxic home. Even if a household was not abusive to start with, we have a situation where we have parents with little support of their own, many whom have lost their jobs and are struggling to keep the roof over their families head. So in cases like this, the sad truth is some people simply just snapped.
Or we saw situations where parents had to go out to work, and were forced to leave children either on their own, or with relatives, or neighbours. Unfortunately, some of these situations led to children being either physically or sexually abused by those tasked to care for them.
Before someone gets their panties in a twist and bawls, “Schools are not babysitters,” let me say you are right, they are not. But for many children they were and are a lifeline.
This is especially true to children who are on the school feeding programme, who depended on that meal.
“But, Alicia, let’s not forget Covid-19! Let’s not forget the dangers,” you may say and trust me I hear you.
I’ve dealt with Covid, been there, done that and have the shirt to prove it.
But with all things we must weigh the benefits over the risks and yes; before schools can reopen there needs to be proper health and safety systems in place.
According to the World Health Organization, research has shown children are less likely to contract Covid-19 and are less likely to spread it, so once a school has proper protocol in place the reopening to schools should be reasonably safe.
The first step is to ensure our educators have access to the vaccine and that the majority of them have been vaccinated.
Schools need to readjust their spaces and how they are used. Windows open, children as distanced as possible and rotate outdoor recess periods so that you have smaller groups of children together.
It has been suggested schools rotate groups of students so one week classes in group A have in person classes, while group B has online. The next week they switch.
For parents whose children truly cannot go back out into school because the risk is too great, then a proper homeschooling curriculum needs to be established and that option should be presented.