Parents wary of offline classes, support Telangana HC decision

Hyderabad: Responding to the state government’s decision on reopening schools from September 1, the High Court of Telangana on Tuesday stayed the government order considering the rise in COVID-19 cases.

A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a parent named Bala Krishna Mandapati, was heard by a bench comprising of acting Chief Justice MS Ramachander Rao and Justice Vinod Kumar. The bench proclaimed that no student irrespective of the grade they are studying in will be compelled to attend offline classes until further notice.

Discussing the same, spoke to a couple of parents in the city to understand their take on reopening schools considering the current pandemic situation.

“I would not be comfortable sending my 14-year-old child to attend classes currently considering the rise in cases,” said Ashok Kumar, whose daughter studies in 9th grade in Hyderabad Public School, Ramanthapur (HPS).

Kumar is also the founder of Active Parents Forum (APF) which addresses the concerns of students enrolled in the HPS’s in the city. “If the school implements guidelines for physical distancing then it is something which can be looked into but as things stand it is a huge risk,” remarked Kumar.

He further said that it is the right of the parent to decide whether their child can and should be put at this risk or not, adding that it is unreasonable for any school to forcibly decide for the parent.

Shabana Ali, the mother of a 12th-grade student enrolled in NASR Girls school voices similar concerns. “If the school manages to ensure that my child gets vaccinated, then I would willingly send her. But unless there is no other option, I would be highly uneasy sending my daughter to attend classes at the cost of her health and well-being,” she said.

While there are facets to be considered vis-à-vis students who cannot access the internet and online education seamlessly, the main crux of the argument currently rests on the safety of the minors in question.

Kruthi Kalaga, the lawyer who argued against the resumption of online education told that the case relies heavily on right to life. “The main case against offline education is Article 21 of the Indian constitution. It is unsafe for children to go back to schools especially considering the ages below 18 have not been vaccinated.”

The bench of the High Court which listened to the case has asked the state government to respond to their stay order. If the COVID-19 pandemic situation improves, schools could reopen from October 4 onwards.