A majority of 71 parents will not be sending their children to school in October even if schools reopen. With rising COVID cases, the percentage of parents willing to send their children to school drops from 23 per cent to 20 per cent in one month, according to a Local Circles survey. Also Read - School Reopening News: Educational Institutes in Andhra Pradesh to Reopen From Nov 2 

Only 28 per cent of parents are in favour of schools reopening in the calendar year 2020 while 34 per cent feel they should open only in the next academic year i.e. April 2021. Many parents in North India expect COVID-19 combined with October-November smog will only make the situation worse for children.

The Covid-19 cases in India have risen to over 60 lakh and are showing no signs of plateauing, with more than 80,000 cases being reported every day. The daily caseload has slightly reduced but the numbers are misleading as the average number of tests in the last two weeks have fallen from 11 lakhs a day to 7 lakh a day, LocalCircles said.

The death toll in India is now approximately 1 lakh while people are confused about whether to go out or stay home as markets, restaurants, bars, metro and various other services are now open.

Schools in the country have been closed since March after the lockdown was announced with voluntary attendance for students of senior classes permitted from September 21 basis authorisation from parents.

LocalCircles conducted a survey to get a pulse of the parents on school reopening. The survey received over 14,500 responses from parents located in around 217 districts of the country with 61% parents from Tier 1 districts, 21 per cent from Tier 2 districts and 18 per cent from Tier 3, Tier 4 and rural districts of India.

When asked if the Central Government and their State Government decide that schools should open in their state in October, would they be sending your child/grandchild to school in October, 71 per cent responded in a clear ‘no’ while only 20 per cent said ‘yes’. 9 per cent were unsure about it.

LocalCircles had conducted a similar survey in August this year and the percentage of parents who said they would want to send their kids to school during the COVID-19 pandemic stood at 23%. The data clearly shows that with rising COVID cases, percentage of parents willing to send their children to school drops from 23 per cent to 20 per cent in one month.

In the second question, parents were asked given the current daily Covid-19 caseload and the upcoming festive season, what is their position regarding the opening of schools in India.

In response, 32 per cent said schools should not open till December 31, 2020, while 34 per cent said Government should not open schools for this academic year i.e. till March/April 2021. 7 per cent said schools should open from October 1, 12 per cent said schools should open from November 1, and 9 per cent said schools should open from December 1.

This means that only 28 per cent parents are in favour of schools reopening in the calendar year 2020 i.e. before December 31, 2020, while 34 per cent feel they should open only in the next academic year i.e. April 2021.

Months of October and November have festivals in most parts of India and schools stay closed for many days due to it. Additionally, the upcoming smog season, especially in the northern parts of the country, is also a developing concern for many parents.

Last year, after the PM 2.5 touched 900 in Delhi and NCR cities, 74 per cent parents had demanded that the Government announces a ‘smog break’ for schools from November 1 -20 each year, keeping in mind the negative health effects that the October/November smog caused due to farm fires in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana could have on children’s health.

Keeping all this in mind, majority parents think it will be best if the schools are not reopened in the months of October and November and if the Covid-19 situation improves be considered for opening from January 1.

However, that is a big if given the way countries around the world are experiencing their second COVID wave, with India’s festive and smog season making things worse, schools may have to likely stay closed for this academic year 2020-21.