Covid-19: to pay or not to pay? Parents unsettled by announcements about school fee relief

To pay or not to pay, waiver or moratorium – parents of school children are confused with announcements from several state governments offering school fee breaks during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

The governments of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have said schools should not pressure parents to pay fees during the lockdown. However, parents are unclear as to whether no fees will be charged during the period or whether they will have to be paid afterwards.

According to various school boards, some parents have assumed that there will be no fees for the period and have received numerous requests for fee waivers.

“There is no clarity. Schools still charge various fees such as meal fees and transportation fees. No one knows what has been dispensed with and what is still there. When we contact schools, they say it’s just a relaxation in time and not in quantity,” Sandeep Makhija, a Gurgaon resident, told PTI.

Similar concerns are expressed by Preeti Vashishth of Rajasthan: “The Government Circular states that schools should not charge advance fees during the period, but there is no clarity as to whether or not the fees will have to be paid later for the lockdown period”.

Rajneesh Kumar, whose two children study at a Noida school, said: “If the fees are going to be paid anyway, then I’d rather put it in my budget now than face a burden later. With the announcement it seemed like a relief, but I don’t know if it really is. Clear instructions would have been helpful.”

‘No Waiver’

According to a representative at a leading private school in Gurgaon, parents are calling them to ask why fee statements have been made despite a government order.

“We explain to each parent that the fees have not been waived and only the deadlines have been relaxed. Teachers work full-time, regular classes are online, staff also have to be paid,” she said.

Another Head Boy in Gurgaon said: “We are not forcing parents to pay immediately, the deadlines have already been extended and a genuine case can also be assessed accordingly later, but we advise parents that whoever can pay now should pay . The fees cannot be waived. Parents call with questions B. during the collection of meal fees. We have a full kitchen and a team to take care of it. So will we not pay them during the time when no meals are being cooked?”

Both schools declined to be named.

Kothari International School in Noida waives day boarding and transportation fees during the months of April and May.

“The school continues to meet its commitments and responsibilities in terms of salaries, housekeeping, safety… sanitation, tank cleaning, hardware, software, buses, networks, Wi-Fi, CCTV, equipment upgrades, building repairs, sports equipment, grounds maintenance and pest control .

“While the school must continue to meet all of these commitments, we fully understand that in the prevailing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced access to banks, the general plight of independent businesses and the slowdown in the economy, we needed to support our Parent community proactive while maintaining, as every year, the high quality standards of infrastructure, teaching and services for our students. We have waived transportation and board fees,” says a parent letter from the school.

However, the Punjab government on Thursday had ordered schools to hand over full salaries to staff and not force parents for books, uniforms and transportation fees, saying no school would charge fees from students under the pretense of online tuition during the blocking time can request.

While several parents have approached the Delhi government during the period to request a fee waiver, no decision has been made in this regard.

“We’ve had messages from parents that fees should be waived during lockdown but schools are saying how they will pay salaries which is also a real concern. The government has been active on behalf of parents on fee issues, but it is a delicate situation at the moment. If anyone has specific suggestions for a balanced way out of the situation, we ask that you share them with us,” Deputy Prime Minister Manish Sisodia said in an online interaction with parents last week.

The country is in lockdown due to the Covid-19 situation. However, schools and colleges were closed a week before the lockdown was announced.

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