Indian schools in Oman seek opinion of parents in reopening survey

Indian schools in Oman seek opinion of parents in reopening survey

Muscat: Parents of students attending Indian schools in Oman have been asked for their thoughts on sending their children back to classes, as part of a survey conducted ahead of their reopening.

The survey, which was conducted by the Board of Directors of Indian Schools in the Sultanate of Oman, also called for parents thoughts on the quality of online classes, their preferences regarding the physical reopening of schools, the hygiene measures they felt was appropriate to protect children during COVID-19, and even their preferred mode of transportation.

The survey made sure parents also included the opinions of their school-going children, with some questions directed at children, specifically in terms of the quality of online classes.

Among the more important questions asked to parents were when they wanted schools to reopen. Four options were offered: November 2020, January 2021, April 2021, or after a coronavirus vaccine came to Oman. Parents were also encouraged to provide any other suggestions related to reopening.

“I am against sending my children to school under the current circumstances,” said Dr Ajith Kumar, whose children attend Indian School Seeb. “Schools are places of high concentration of people, and this could lead to possible infection. If my child gets infected and comes home and transmits that to the rest of the family, then we will have serious concerns.”

“The board has to provide a multilateral option where it takes into account the opinions of all the parents, because our concerns are genuine,” added Ragu Muthukumar, a parent of two children who go to Indian School Al Wadi Al Kabir.“The welfare of their children will always come first for any parent.”

However, Ahmed Faisal, whose daughter went to Indian School Muscat, said, “My daughter plays with about 20 children below our building every day, and all of them are fine. The possibility of her catching the disease, whether at school or anywhere else, is the same, so as long as proper social distancing and other hygiene protocols are met, I am keen on her going back to school once it opens.”

Schools are expected to reopen in Oman on November 1, having been temporarily closed to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Curriculum has been taught through online classes since then, and parents and students were also asked what sort of learning method they’d like to be implemented. While the ongoing plan of online-only classes was offered, the other options made available were a blend of online and on-campus classes, lessons conducted at school alone, and the option of theory classes taught online and practical classes and exams attended at school.

“I have immense respect for the teachers who have had to learn to use the software for online learning in a very short span of time,” added Kumar.

“They have done a tremendous job in adapting to these sudden changes, and have gone on teaching our children despite all the challenges they have. As parents, we are unable to adjust so quickly to technology, so I can understand the difficulties faced by the teachers as well.”

Moinuddin Hassan, another parent whose children were part of the Indian school system, said, “Whenever we meet with other parents or the school management committee, I am always vocal in terms of raising the difficulties that many parents face right now, because the board must be aware of this. It would be good if the schools reopened, because a few parents cannot afford the technology required for online classes.

Another aspect of reopening on which opinion was sought was bringing back students in staggered phases, a subject on which many seemed to agree.

“I believe that the social skills you learn in school are extremely important,” added Kumar. “The lessons taught online are going fine, but our children are living in isolation at the moment, and you need the soft skills that come with learning to develop into an all-round human being.”

Sujata Pai, whose sons attend Indian School Al Ghubra, added: “It would be good if the senior classes resumed first, because they need more hands-on attention, and the junior classes continued online for the time-being. My sons are keen to go back to school and start learning in the classroom once again.”

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