NCR pollution - Schools go online but offices stay offline: Working couples in a fix

  • | Wednesday | 8th November, 2023

GURGAON/NOIDA: The sudden return of online classes in the wake of severe pollution levels has left working parents in a fix.Readjusting their schedules isnt easy, with most corporates moving back to a full work from office regime. So, some parents have been trying hard to convince their bosses to allow them leaves or let them work from home, others are calling up relatives with a request to look after the kids in their absence.Track the pollution level in your cityMost parents told TOIthey werent prepared for this work arrangement.On Monday night, the Gurgaon administration announced online classes for students of nursery to fifth standard. In Noida and Ghaziabad, students of only classes 10-12 will have to go to school.Sadiya Fatma, an IT professional from Sector 52 in Gurgaon, is relying on her relatives. I had to send our six-year-old child to my sister-in-laws house in another part of the city. Her in-laws agreed to our request to look after our children because neither my husband nor me could manage WFH. This isnt like the pandemic, when we could help our kids navigate through the online system, however troublesome it was for us, she told TOI.Most students in primary classes are finding it hard to use gadgets on their own. Leaving them at home without any supervision isnt an option. On Tuesday, I rushed to office early in the morning, punched in my ID and returned home to continue with the work, said Adhiraj Pradhan, who works in the home loan department of a bank.Its unrealistic to expect a five-year-old kid to sit through a 40-minute session silently. As I worked on my laptop, I realised how difficult it was for them to study on their own. I could hear the teacher asking him to call someone elder in the family so that the session could be muted. He was singing a nursery rhyme all through, Pradhan added.The last-minute decision has also left students without any books at home. Most private schools ask students not to carry textbooks home in a bid to check the weight of bags.Its also a challenge to keep students focused on their studies at a time they are advised not to step out of homes, said Nidhi Pachauri, an IT professional from Sector 37.When online classes were announced the last time, schools had enough time to send books home along with the students. This isnt the case now. Moreover, children need to step out of home, interact with others and indulge in physical activity. Since they are not able to do that, most of them are losing focus, she added.Some parents expressed concern about exposing kids to laptop and phone screens for long hours. Till now, we hadnt allowed our four-year-old daughter any screen time. She would go to school and attend physical classes. But now, she has to learn her lessons on a tablet. She, obviously, gets distracted by other apps on the device. At times, she insists on watching YouTube videos. We dont want her to do that, said Ashish Shrivastava, who is associated with Hero Moto Corp.Grandparents, who have pitched in to manage the situation, are at their wits end when asked for technical support with the laptops or phones. My mother-in-law is 75 years old. Yes, she is there at home when my son is attending online classes. But she cant answer questions related to technology. My office hasnt allowed WFH. So, my husband is trying to work out some arrangements. But, how will we manage things in the long run, said a Noida resident.Schools said they couldnt just announce a smog break when they were racing against time to finish the syllabus.We have a limited number of academic days in a year. If we start announcing holidays like this, it will become difficult for us to complete the syllabus, said the principal of a government school in Sector 52.

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