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Pandemic-imposed school closures add strain to working parents’ balancing act

By Rana Husseini - Sep 28,2020 - Last updated at Sep 28,2020

AMMAN — Working parents on Sunday said that the government's decision to shut down dozens of schools in the Kingdom in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19 is adding more burdens on them.

Following the rapid spread of hundreds of COVID-19 cases in the Kingdom during the past weeks, the government took several decisions to shut down certain entities, including schools that have registered any COVID-19 cases.

"The government's decision to shut down schools is only adding more and more burdens on us because now we have to constantly monitor our children to make sure they are committed to online learning," journalist Nadine Nimri said.

Nimri told The Jordan Times that although she got support from her newspaper to work from home, "it is still a big burden for me because I cannot be as professional with my work as I wish".

"Because children are at home, I get interrupted on some occasions while doing interviews with the constant demands from them and, sometimes, they want full attention," Nimri said.

Nimri noted that the government needs to leave the door open "for parents to decide if they want to send their children to school or to keep them at home, and if there are cases reported, the classes or areas will be closed until they are sterilised and can receive students again.  There is no need to shut down the entire school".

Mu'taz Maraqa wrote on Facebook urging the government to retract its decision and to allow schools to operate normally under strict health conditions.

"We cannot leave our children alone at home to go to work. They will be immediately distracted and start playing on electronic devices. Are we expected to leave our jobs to monitor our children at home?" Maraqa wrote on one of the Facebook pages dedicated to defending the rights of children at public schools.  

Karma Tajedin went further to call for dropping the first semester of the school year since "distance learning is inefficient, especially with the high number of school textbooks and its contents". 

Mohammad Assaf also wrote on the Facebook page saying that his daughter is stressed because she is sitting and staring at a computer screen for hours to attend classes online every day ".

However, Rateb Qadoumi wrote on another Facebook page also dedicated to students returning to schools that he prefers to keep his children at home.

"The situation is becoming scary and I prefer to keep my children at home instead of sending them to the school," Qadoumi wrote.

Suzanne Awartani added: "I am against online learning because it is 'a failed system'.  My children are depressed because they stay at home and are also confused from the many decisions that are being announced every day".

Last month, the minister of education stressed during a conference that schools will not be closed unless there were COVID-19 cases reported within these establishments.

The minister also said that all schools were instructed to abide by the maximum health security procedures to ensure the protection of children and everyone working at the educational institutions.

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