Over the past few months, a lot of parents have painfully watched their kids struggle with online learning since nationwide school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, the reopening of schools for graduating students come with mixed feelings.

However, for Oby Ohakim, the founder of Project Baby, a resource centre for kids, the announcement of safe reopening of schools for graduating classes came as a shock. She said that, while parents are aware of the need to effectively educate our kids in a classroom setting, how the government is going to ensure that schools provide a safe environment still appears to be completely unknown.

“Some questions still need to be answered. How much testing will be needed upon resumption to ensure protection of the kids, teachers, and the vast number of families connected to them? If one of the students or teachers tests positive for COVID-19 after resumption, will the school need to shut down? Who will be responsible for the complex network of supervision and support that schools would need to operate safely during a pandemic? How often will schools be sanitised? What are the penalties for failing to do so?”

The mother of two, who is also a lawyer, said repeatedly, she has seen the government adopt a laissez-faire approach to reopening the economy that permits each sector to figure it out on their own.

“As a country, safely reopening schools is a step in the right direction; it is important for the kids, for parents, and even the economy.”

Ohakim noted that, while a lot of working parents rely on schools for childcare, the past few months have shown that working from home while homeschooling is disproportionately affecting working mothers. But any safe reopening of schools must balance our children’s educational needs with the need for their safety. One should not outweigh the other.

She, however, stressed that the government is operating on the presumption that they can casually announce reopening schools and families must meekly follow.


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