Coronavirus: Oman's schools reopen but parents remain cautious

Only 25 per cent of pupils have returned since classes restarted last week

MAY 25 2009. KUMZAR, OMAN.  MAY 25 2009. KUMZAR, OMAN. The isolated fishing village of Kumzar located on the Musandam Penisula in nothern Oman. a school girl walks to lessons at the village school.  *** Local Caption ***  IMG_2612.JPGIMG_2612.JPG
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Schools in Oman reopened last week, but parents remain reluctant to send their children back to the classroom.

Parents told The National they did not want to expose their children to the coronavirus even after 10 months of online learning.

"I am reluctant to send my children back to school when the pandemic is still among us. It is impossible to ensure social distances in young children, where they push each other or play together whenever they meet," said Fahad Al Rajab, 47, whose children attend primary school in Muscat.

"The risk of infection is still high and I am not going to take that risk. Online education is still the only solution."

Oman on Tuesday reported 135 new cases and two deaths from Covid-19. In all, the country has recorded 132,146 cases, including 124,398 recoveries and 1,516 deaths.

"I have an underlying medical issue and I don't want my children to pick up an infection and give it to me. That's why I am not considering taking them back to their classes," said Raisa Al Kindi, 51, who has three children of school-going age.

“It makes sense to have the second option of online education like they did in the last semester.”

The Ministry of Education assured parents that sending their children back to the classroom was safe, but any parent with concerns could exercise the option of online learning.

"We are taking precautionary measures to make sure schools are sanitised, temperature measuring devices are available, social distancing is maintained and there is no overcrowding in common places," said the ministry.

“It is quite safe for parents to send their children back to classes.”

For those who do not wish to send their children back to class, blended learning will be provided.

Around 140,000 schoolchildren have reported back to school, out of a total of over 600,000 pupils, the ministry said.

"Why are they sending children back to school when the number of people vaccinated is small? Less than 10 per cent of the population has been vaccinated so far," said Abdulmalik Al Balushi, 33, who has two children.

"Let them wait until September, when at least 50 per cent of the population have received their inoculation," he said. He felt that sending his own children back would amount to a "real risk".

Oman began its vaccination programme last month and has so far inoculated around 15,000 people. The Ministry of Health said the second batch of vaccinations, around 28,000, will arrive by the end of this month.

Oman's population is about 4.3 million, including residents from overseas.