Across Osaka, June 15 marked the first day back for many public schools. And although news stories have covered the staggered classroom schedules and social distancing plans, many Osaka public schools have unfortunately taken a “well if it happens, it happens” approach to protecting elementary students from COVID-19 risks.
My son’s public school in Minoh is, in my opinion, a perfect example of what not to do. The Osaka Board of Education is making Osaka schools a literal Petri dish of bad prevention ideas. First, the school is crowded, 800 children from first through sixth grades. Class sizes average 38 to 40 children per class. Social distancing, staggered classes or online plans are none. Kids are to wear ill-fitting cotton masks, sitting directly adjacent to other students, pre-coronavirus style.
When students arrive in the morning, instead of the school confirming temperatures prior to admittance, students need to do this at home. In schools across Asia, Europe and North America, students aren’t admitted onto school property without this done by teachers or staff. Yet, Osaka’s school board has decided this is too complicated a task for school staff to undertake and relegated the duty to parents.
Much like pre-coronavirus days, school cleaning is the students’ responsibility. While in theory I’m not against this, high-risk areas such as bathrooms I assumed would not be handled by students. Schools like my son’s with 800 students, it doesn’t seem wise for 10 year olds to be on hands and knees cleaning bathrooms. But Osaka’s mayor and board of educationdecided it was fine.
So what if students in Osaka public schools get infected? What happens next? It’s a basic question, yet Osaka public schools really don’t know. Shockingly, they are opting for a wait and see approach (in other words, if it happens, it happens).
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.