About 48% parents in India are not willing to send their children to school till they are vaccinated, according to a recent survey, while 30% parents are unwilling to send their children to school till the cases in their district drop to zero. The survey was conducted by community social media platform LocalCircles and comprised feedback from more than 32,000 parents in 361 districts.
In a related survey by LocalCircles released in June 2021, 37% parents wanted schools to be reopened only after the children are vaccinated. This percentage has increased to 48% of parents now willing to send their children to school only after they are vaccinated. Post the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya stating that a vaccine for children will be available by August, some parents on LocalCircles suggested that the vaccination programme for children may be best organised via their schools itself. States like Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar have either allowed schools to reopen or announced plans to open them while other states have not announced reopening schools yet.
If the state government or local administration permits the reopening of schools from August 1, 52% of parents said they wonâ€™t send their children to school. Nearly 41% parents will send their children to attend physical classes, albeit with some conditions, with almost 20% parents likely saying so because they do not want their children to miss out on in-person classes.
If the citizen feedback in the survey and discussions were to be put together along with the announcement by the government that a vaccine for children may be available by August, the key to unlocking schools may be opening them based on state and district level conditions, LocalCircles said. â€śAn approach to consider may be for states with low number of cases across all districts to announce opening of schools and to authorise local administrators or the District Magistrates to permit opening of schools on a voluntary basis and announce closure if caseloads increase. Schools can then decide if they want to open fully, continue in online mode for some classes and open for certain classes, or continue in online mode fully. For states where there is still a certain number of districts with high caseloads and TPR above 10%, the schools should continue to stay shut till the situation improves,â€ť stated LocalCircles.
If schools are functioning already in districts with zero or low caseloads, the suggestion of some parents about vaccination for children being done at their schools merits consideration, LocalCircles said, adding that it will share the findings of the survey with key stakeholders in the Union government and with Chief Secretaries of all states so that inputs of the parents can be considered as they decide their school reopening, sustainment and child vaccination strategy.