New Delhi: The COVID-19 cases in India have risen to over 60 lakh and are showing no signs of plateauing, with more than 80,000 cases being reported every day. The daily caseload has slightly reduced but the numbers are misleading as the average number of tests in the last two weeks have fallen from 11 lakhs/day to 7 lakhs a day.

The death toll in India is now approximately 1 lakh while people are confused about whether to go out or stay home as markets, restaurants, bars, metro and various other services are now open.

Schools in the country have been closed since March 2020 after the lockdown was announced with voluntary attendance for students of senior classes permitted from September 21, 2020 basis authorisation from parents. As we go into the 8th month of the pandemic in India, LocalCircles conducted a survey to get the pulse of the parents on school reopening.

The survey received over 14,500 responses from parents located in around 217 districts of the country with 61% parents from Tier 1 districts, 21% from Tier 2 districts and 18% from Tier 3, Tier 4 and rural districts of India.

When asked if the Central government and their state government decide that schools should open in their state in October, would they be sending your child/grandchild to school in October, 71% responded in a clear ‘no’ while only 20% said ‘yes’. 9% were unsure about it.

LocalCircles had conducted a similar survey in August this year and the percentage of parents who said they would want to send their kids to school during the COVID-19 pandemic stood at 23%. The data clearly shows that with rising COVID cases, the percentage of parents willing to send their children to school drops from 23% to 20% in one month.

Some states like Tamil Nadu and Tripura have announced that schools in their states will reopen from October 1, 2020 on a voluntary basis and children from senior classes i.e. Class 10-12 can visit schools as needed.

In the second question, parents were asked given the current daily COVID-19 caseload and the upcoming festive season, what is their position regarding opening of schools in India. In response, 32% said schools should
not open till December 31, 2020, while 34% said the government should not open schools for this academic year i.e. till March/April 2021. 7% said schools should open from October 1, 2020, 12% said schools should open from November 1, 2020 and 9% said schools should open from December 1, 2020.

This means that only 28% parents are in favour of schools reopening in calendar year 2020 i.e. before December 31, 2020, while 34% feel they should open only in the next academic year i.e. April 2021.

Months of October and November have festivals in most parts of India and schools stay closed for many days due to it. Additionally, the upcoming smog season, especially in the northern parts of the country, is also a developing concern for many parents. Last year, after the PM 2.5 touched 900 in Delhi and NCR cities, 74% parents had demanded that the Government announces a ‘smog break’ for schools from Nov 1 -20 each year, keeping in mind the negative health effects that the October/November smog caused due to farm fires in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana could have on children’s health. Keeping all this in mind, majority parents think it will be best if the schools are not reopened in the months of October and November and if the COVID-19 situation improves be considered for opening from Jan 1, 2021. However, that is a big if given the way countries around the world are experiencing their second COVID wave, with India’s festive and smog season making things worse, schools may have to likely stay closed for this academic year 2020-21.

LocalCircles will share the findings of this survey with Central and State Government officials so that feedback of parents can be considered as decisions are made on school reopening dates.

Survey Demographics

14,500+ responses were received across 217 districts of India. 68% respondents were men while 32% respondents were women. 61% respondents were from tier 1, 21% from tier 2 and 18% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.