Back to school: Why some parents chose not to send their children to class

Parents explain why they preferred distance learning for their children for the first term

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Schools opened their doors to pupils for the first time in six months on Sunday and while some parents were excited for their children to return to classrooms, others have chosen to continue distance learning for the first term.

Safety measures including smaller classes, mandatory face masks, physical distancing and staggered attendance are in place but authorities gave parents the choice of continuing e-learning until December.

Christina Rodrigues said her three children, aged between 5 and 13, would study from home for the first term to protect them and her husband, who is immunocompromised.

“Kids have been sheltered since March and to expose them suddenly is my concern.”

I honestly couldn't guarantee that my daughter would not pick up a piece of Play-Doh if she found it on the floor in the classroom

Her husband has been allowed to work from home and Ms Rodrigues does not want to “risk” the safety of her family and others by taking her children back to school.

She said it would also be difficult for schools to ensure children were maintaining adequate hygiene throughout the day.

“As a mum I need to be looking after them and I can completely understand how difficult it would be for a teacher with so many kids.

“I’m hoping to just sail through flu season and send the kids back in January,” she said.

Amna Mustafa, an Indian resident of Abu Dhabi, said she would rather her sons, Ali, 11, and Rayaan, 9, work from home as one of them has asthma, making him at greater risk of complications should he contract the virus.

“When things are better I can think of sending my sons to school.

"But I am reluctant to send them while they still have to wear masks.”

She said she would be comfortable sending her children back when daily cases decreased to the point that schools would relax some of the safety measures.

Children at her son’s school have been told they must wear gloves while eating.

Ms Mustafa said she would also feel more comfortable if all pupils were tested before reopening, rather than only those 12 and older.

Amal Al Muheiri, whose three children in KG1 and Grade 3 and Grade 6, will also be remote learning this term.

“I chose distance learning because I was concerned about the second wave of the coronavirus,” she said.

The government employee said she was particularly concerned about her youngest daughter adhering to safety measures.

“I honestly couldn't guarantee that my daughter would not pick up a piece of Play-Doh if she found it on the floor in the classroom.

“Distance learning is safer for the moment,” she said.