China / Society

Students' parents put in a quandary

By ZHAO XINYING (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-09 07:47

As classes suspended, finding child care proves to be problem

Three days without school in Beijing have created a headache for some parents who have difficulty finding a person or institution for child care when they go to work.

Classes were suspended by the government when the capital issued its first red alert for heavy smog on Monday.

Wang Qiang, a Beijing resident whose daughter is 7 years old, said on Tuesday that both he and his wife were required to work, and the grandparents were too old to look after the girl. No tutorial programs were likely to accept a student for only three days, he added.

"Eventually, I had to ask for a day off to stay with my daughter at home," said Wang, who works for a research institute in Beijing.

The Beijing Commission of Education released a notice on its website on Monday after the capital invoked the red alert ordering all kindergartens, primary schools, middle schools, children's activity centers and others to suspend classes.

But suspending classes doesn't mean stopping learning, the commission said in the notice. "Kindergartens and schools should keep in touch with students and parents through the Internet, and teachers should guide students to make full use of digital materials and conduct online learning at home."

Wen Hong, a math teacher at Experimental High School Attached to Beijing Normal University, said teachers at the school were also requested to make themselves available via mobile phone or WeChat, ready to answer any questions raised by students.

Thomas Longrigg, a media relations coordinator at Beijing City International School in Chaoyang district, said that teachers there had uploaded all the required work to the school's online systems, and students were participating in online learning. Forty percent of the school's 900 students are foreigners.

"Teachers are on hand by e-mail to discuss any problems they might have," he said. s

To meet students' possible demand for online learning during the red alert period, some Internet education companies adopted special measures. For example, TAL Education Group announced on Tuesday that some of its K12 online courses will be open to students free of charge for 72 hours.

Such measures do little to ease some parents' concerns. Wang Haifeng, a Beijing resident whose son is a fourth-grader at Xicheng district's Wulutong Primary School, said she would prefer that her son study at school even on heavily polluted days.

"Children often become sloppy and lose discipline at home-like my son. He doesn't study at all," she said. "What's more, we parents have just raised funds to install an air filter in my son's classroom. We don't have an air filter at home. In all aspects, learning at school on smoggy days is better than doing it at home."

Wang Qiang, the father who asked for time off, said he hoped the smog would pass and that normal life would resume as soon as possible.

"If the days off continue, who and how to take care of our daughter will become a major problem for my wife and me," he said. "We haven't even decided what to do for the next two days."

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