With a lot of fear among parents about sending their children to schools and day care centres even in case the lockdown is lifted, the Early Childhood Association (ECA) and the Association for Primary Education and Research (APER) have come up with a set of guidelines for preschools and day care centres.
A 54-page-long document lists out the precautions to be taken at the centres, with respect to teaching staff and helpers and by parents before sending children to preschools or day care centres. These guidelines suggest staggered school reopening dates for different classes- with older kids first and then followed by the younger kids. It also recommends tweaking the vacation calendar and urges teachers to not insist on completing the syllabus considering the unforeseen circumstances.
For students traveling by school buses, thermal checks need to be carried out everyday before they enter the buses. Students who are sick could be temporarily segregated without creating stigma. For centres that serve meals, the guidelines recommend serving them in classrooms instead of a common dining area. Preschools should not issue books from the library to avoid any risk. Toys should not be shared amongst students and need to be frequently disinfected.
Teachers and support staff in these centres have to be trained for the precautions to be taken post classes resume. They need to be told about the importance of social distancing, appropriate sanitization and hygiene measures and ways to keep themselves calm during such times, as per the guidelines. Parents have also been asked not to put too much academic stress on students and to ensure that they maintain communication with the centres about their travel and other details from time to time.
“There is a lot of anxiety amongst parents and preschools because of the uncertainty surrounding us due to COVID-19. But since we know that this is not going to end soon, it is better to prepare ourselves for the days to come Preschool education is gaining prominence over the last few years and we don’t want parents to take early education lightly as it would have an impact on the overall learning levels of children,” said Swati Popat Vats, president, ECA and APER. The groups have also urged parents to pay fees in the interim. “We have urged parents who can pay to not stall fee payments if possible because many of these preschools cannot sustain otherwise. Preschools too, have to be flexible and allow partial payments,” she added.