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Pinoy moms rue Norway's re-opening of kindergarten, schools



Picture: Norway PM Erna Solberg announcing the re-opening of kindergartens and schools in a press conference in Oslo last April 7.


DRAMMEN - Filipino mothers in Norway are worried about sending their kids back to kindergartens and schools following the government decision to re-open kindergartens this week and the schools for grade levels 1-4 the week after.

One such mother is Jo Glano who has a son in 3rd grade who will have to go back to school from April 27.

“Bilang isang ina, hindi ako sang-ayon sa maagang pag babalik sa barnehage. Masyado pang maaga para buksan ang barnehage at mga paaralan. Hindi ko ilalagay sa alanganin ang kalusugan ng aking anak lalo pa at nakikita ko ang mga kakulangan ng paghahanda ng gobyerno,” (As a mother, I am not in favor of children going back to kindergarten. It is too early to open the kindergartens and schools. I will not put my child’s health at risk especially that I can see the lack of preparedness of the government),” she told Pinoy Portal Europe.

Glano, who also works at a kindergarten, said she worries about children who will be sent back to kindergarten as staff like her are not even sure if they are not infected since they have not been tested.

“Naiintindihan ko na marami sa mga magulang ang nahihirapan gawa ng hjemmekontor (home office), hjemmeskole (home school) o dagdag pa ang mga maliliit na anak, pero paano namin mai-bibigay ang tamang kalinga at pag aaruga sa mga bata kung kami mismo hindi namin alam kung kami ba ay malusog at walang dinadalang sakit na pwedeng maka hawa sa mga bata? (I can understand that it is hard for parents who are working at home and homeschooling their kids and have to take care of smaller kids but how can we give proper care to the children if we do not even know if we are healthy and will not infect the children?)” she added.

Also, she explained that the nature of work at kindergarten requires a lot of proximity with children making social distancing impossible.

“Ang mga maliliit na bata ay kinakailangan ng body contact para ma iparamdam sa kanila na sila ay nasa isang ligtas na lugar. Hindi pwedeng i-apply ang 1-meter distancing. Ang hirap ipaliwanag sa kanila na hindi nila pwedeng bigyan ng hugs ang kanilang mga kaibigan, (The youngest ones need a lot of body contact to make them feel safe, so 1 meter distancing cannot be applied. It will be difficult to explain to them why they cannot give hugs to their friends),” she further added.

Lina Biado has two kids in kindergarten and she also shares Glano’s apprehension about sending her young kids back to kindergarten.

“Di po ako agree diyan. Medyo risky pa din lalo na sa small kids kasi di naman nila alam yang avtand (distance). Malay nila diyan. Okay di ma-stress ang mga barnehage assistant kasi yan mga yan puro laro lang ang alam lalo na yung mga gapang gapang pa, kakaawa, (I do not agree with that. It is still a bit risky especially for small kids as they do not know what distancing means. It will also be stressful for kindergarten staff as kids only know playing especially those who are still crawling, such a pity!),” Biado said.

Tor Erik Fredriksen who is head of a kindergarten in Drammen reassures the parents of their children’s safety and believed the decision to re-open the kindergartens and school is a responsible move.

“We will follow this decision and we will do our utmost that it will be safe. The government has drawn up guidelines on what to follow under the re-opening and the parents will get information beforehand on the routines which will be in place so the parents need not worry,” Fredriksen explained.

He also said that it is important that the government’s recommendations on hygiene be strictly enforced so that the children in kindergarten are protected.

“The kindergartens will also put in place measures that will make it safe for kids to be there with infection prevention in mind. An example of this will be to divide the kids into smaller groups all day,” he added.

Among the government’s guidelines issued include making workers in kindergarten and schools a priority in testing to ensure that they are healthy enough to go to work and not put children at risk.

Both Glano and Biado believe that the government’s decision to re-open the kindergartens and schools is motivated by economic reasons rather than health considerations.

“Sa tingin ko gusto ng gobyerno na unti unting ibalik sa normal ang sitwasyon para isalba ang ekonomiya. Para hindi masyadong malaking pera ang mawawala sa kaban ng gobyerno. Pero sa panahon ngayon, mas dapat tuunan ng pansin ang kalusugan ng mga mamamayan, (I think the government wants a return to normalcy to save the economy. So that government does not lose a lot of money from its coffer. But at this time, the focus should be the health of the people.),” Glano said.

She also said the peak has not been reached and re-opening now would waste the gain during the lockdown.

“Kasi kung titingnan ang sitwasyon ng ibang bansa, nagsisimula pa lang tayo. Wala pa tayo sa taas. Kung hahayaang lumabas ang mga tao after ng påske (easter) malaki ang tsansa na mawawalan ng silbi ang 4 na linggong lockdown. Kung maaari sana mag hintay muna ng isa pang buwan (If we look at the situation of other countries, we are just starting. We have not reached the peak. If we let the people go out after Easter, there is a chance that the gain of the four-week lockdown will go to waste. If necessary, we need to wait for a month.),” she added.

According to Statistics Norway, the closure of schools in the country costs the economy 1.7 billion crowns a day considering the loss of children's learning and parents’ productivity.

The apprehension of Filipino mothers on sending kids back to kindergarten and school is also shared by other mothers in Norway as a survey conducted by Kantar for TV2 showed 40% of parents are afraid of sending their kids back to kindergartens and schools

The same survey also showed that 38% of parents think that it is not safe for their children to go back to school.

Infectious disease expert Bjørg Marit Andersen told Dagbladet that the government’s move to ease restriction by re-opening schools is “irresponsible and unwise” as she thinks Norway is not yet out of the Covid-19 rut.

The Norwegian government ordered the closure of kindergarten and schools in March following its decision to lockdown a large part of the country to curb the spread of Covid-19.

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