Representational image for school students | Photo: ANI
Representational image for school students | Photo: ANI
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New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines for Unlock 4 on 29 August, permitting partial reopening of schools from 21 September.

“Students of classes 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit their schools, in areas outside containment zones only, on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers,” said the guidelines.

Students will be permitted to go to school only with prior written consent from parents and only 50 per cent of the teaching and non-teaching staff will be called in.

Shorter hours, reduced strength, masks and sanitisers will be the norm as per standard operating procedure (SOP) released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.


Also read: Bengaluru private schools want to charge students ‘Covid fees’ to cover sanitisation costs


Serological surveys show children have high Covid incidence

Studies have shown that children are less susceptible to severe Covid-19 as compared to adults. But if infected, they can become asymptomatic carriers of the disease.

Delhi’s second serological survey in August found about 35 per cent of children in the age group of 5-17 tested positive for antibodies — the highest percentage among all participants. Indore’s survey found a seroprevalence of about 7 per cent in children, which is similar to that of adults.

These numbers show that despite closure of schools, children have contracted the infection. Yet, some experts have welcomed the reopening of schools on the grounds that children have already built antibodies.

India is not the first to reopen schools. The US did so in in early August and within two weeks, it was found that there had been a 90 per cent increase in the number of Covid cases in children. A report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association found that Covid clusters were found in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi schools days after reopening.

Israel reopened its schools in May after witnessing a slowdown in Covid spread but within weeks, thousands of students and teachers had to be sent into quarantine. Similarly, Germany saw 41 of its 825 schools in Berlin reporting cases of Covid with two weeks of reopening.

All this now raises the question if India, having reported more than 44 lakh Covid cases and with no signs of it slowing down, is ready for schools functioning as usual.


Also read: A JEE hopeful’s exam day amid pandemic — fear, anxiety, nausea and lots of sanitiser


Experts advise caution

Anant Bhan, Researcher, Global health, Bioethics and Health Policy, is of the opinion that while households with no access to the internet may find physical school useful, the move comes with certain risks.

He said, “Countries across the world are struggling to find the best way to open schools. With the present guidelines, it is essential that district authorities maintain strict surveillance so that schools do not become Covid clusters.”

A serological survey by the Indian Council for Medical Research found a higher seroprevalence in urban areas, indicating a higher infection rate in cities. Talking about this, Bhan added, “Reopening of schools should first be attempted in areas with low-infection rates and once the success rate is determined, schools in high-infection areas like Mumbai and Delhi should be opened.”

Promulgating a similar idea, public health specialist Dr Anand Lakshman wrote, “Instead of a unitary school reopening policy for the entire country, given the difference in timings of peaks and rates of spread in various geographies, we should be empowering states, municipalities and panchayats to take local decisions based on their respective peaks, positivity rates, cases, death rates and sero-prevalence.”

Meanwhile, Giridhar R. Babu, professor and head, lifecourse epidemiology, at Public Health Foundation of India, is strongly against the move.

Speaking talking to ThePrint, he said, “One in three children in India are malnourished, add to that the physical and mental stress of the pandemic. This suggests that Indian children do not have a great immune response. With their movement in public transport, they stand the risk of spreading it.”

According to a UNICEF report, 69 per cent of deaths of children below the age of five in India happen due to malnutrition.

Talking about Delhi survey, Babu said, “This only shows that strict lockdown was not implemented in Delhi. It is reported that most children might have no symptoms or have mild symptoms. We do not have representative seroprevalence estimates from elsewhere in children to understand what adversities they may face. I am worried about multisystem inflammatory diseases in children, that occur as a sequelae in children. I would like to err on the side of being overcautious rather than expose children to unknown risk.”


Also read: 1.38 lakh Telangana students struggle to tune in as govt school classes begin online


Parents and teachers

A survey by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, said only 33 per cent of parents support the opening of schools.

Sunita Agrawal, a 48-year-old homemaker based in Dhangendra, Gujarat, is hesitant to send her daughter to school. “Whatever learning is required is happening via online classes. While I understand the importance given to Class 12 exams, but they are not more important than my daughter’s life,” she told ThePrint.

Aarti Devi, a 38-year-old Delhi resident who has three school-going children, said she would prefer that her children study online. “The area that we live in (Munirka village) has recently seen a spike in Covid numbers. We don’t want to risk it by sending our children to school,” said the parent whose daughter has just started her Class 12.

She added, “With so many children present, I doubt if teachers will be able to maintain a strict eye on all students. Children being children will invariably end up intermingling and sharing lunches.”

A teacher working with a private school in Delhi, too, was uncomfortable with the idea. “I know my school will diligently follow the rules but I will still prefer to opt out.” She said the risk for teachers would be much greater since travelling by metro and cabs would increase their exposure to infection.


Also read: Multiple entry-exits, no use of saliva to turn pages — govt SOP to conduct exams amid Covid


 

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80 Comments Share Your Views

80 COMMENTS

  1. I HAVE CAME WITH AN IDEA!😃
    Don’t open schools for this session
    We all know less studies happen in schools and many students nowadays go to local tutions in evening where only 10-15 students come and one teacher (whom we call didi or bhaiya )
    I request government to officially encourage these local tutions (especially in rural areas) for this session as opening schools where 1000 people come everyday will be a foolish decision. Even recovered nations closed the schools within 2-3 days of opening. The school teachers should turn into tution wala for this session. This method can apply to rural areas also and in urban areas if they can afford they can take online classes.
    I myself live in a poor village in Rajasthan and I have seen these tutions have started at “tutor’s house” but now the government should officially encourage them.

    India has the biggest advantage that local tution system exist in our nation (and not in other countries) and we have more than enough enough tutors in our country🙂

  2. Hamare bacche padh nahin pa rahe hain school Coleman jaroori hai coronavirus coronavirus ke bich hamen Apne bacchon Ko padhaanaa hi hoga aise kab tak rahenge hamare bacche barbad Ho jaenge jinke paas paison ki Kami nahin hai unhen jarurat kya hai ham Garib aadami kaise kaise karke padhte Hain usmein bhi bacche ki padhaai nahin kar pa rahe kya Karen school kholna bahut jaruri hai online classes padhaai nahin Hoti kisi ke parents pade na ho to vah kya Karega kisi ke pass phone Na Ho to vah kya Karegajinke gharon mein man baap padhe likhe Hain to vah to padhaai lenge jinke gharon mein man baap padhe likhe nahin hai to vah kya karenge pirona ka bhi joking Lena hi padega aisi darne ki koi baat nahin hai nivedan hai ki school khol diye jaen jald se jald nahin to bahut bacche barbad Ho jaenge aur to aur school bhi jabardasti fees Lene Ko taiyar Hain agar koi baccha fees nahin dega usko TC bhi nahin denge yah school ka kahana Sarkar iske bare mein to kuchh bol hi nahin Rahi

  3. Will the government reply to this comment- A consent form is taken from the parents for the students who wants to attend the school. Being a responsible government along with respective school authorities they should infact give a written consent to all parents assuring that there is no harm in sending our wards to school. Mere speeches and lectures should be limited to themselves. Please don’t put the future of the country at risk for your wicked and senseless ideas.

  4. Reopening the schools are the same as killing the lives of young youth. Children are children. Even if we take precautions, we parents at home will be very anxious of how my children are doing at school. Why take the risk?? I understand that many of us are facing some internet connections or the children are not being sincere and are misusing the use of technologies. But it is the duty of the parents, us to look out for our children. We are fine if we get infected, but children getting being infected means destroying the future of the country. Children are the future of the country. They will holds the future of the country. Why risking their innocent lives. I request you to think again and take the decision wisely.

  5. This all happened again without solving the problem, so let us know human failed against viruses. Damn man, on what purpose our education system literature us to see what’s happening right now. I am probably not gonna Admit that without vaccation things really gonna happen normal.

  6. Foolish decision to re open schools ..both the student and teacher are at high risk
    .Besides the grandparents at home can also contract the virus from their grandkids

  7. Please call the students of those parents who wants to school open. They are showing how much they are serious about study. We r also serious about study but hello dont forget the coronavirus danger

  8. Before the situation calms down plz don’t start the schools as usual…. Because history and presence are the vitnesses of what’s the condition of our school and some areas higene is.
    Because Indian Constitution says that safety of Indian citizens must be first….

  9. it’s the matter of country’s future
    It’s the matter of country’s presence
    It’s the matter of we students….
    Before the situation calms down plz don’t start the schools as usual…. Because history and presence are the vitnesses of what’s the condition of our school and some areas higene is.
    Because Indian Constitution says that safety of Indian citizens must be first…. 🙏

  10. Please reopen schools because our students weast their time and time pass to mobile so our future depend on what we do in the present so I request you please open schools

  11. Children are our lifelines.
    We live for our kids.
    In no case, under none circumstance, would we send our kids to school.
    Education is important for everyone.
    But education teaches us to think sensibly.
    So, pls let us all utilize our education and learning and realize that no politics, no economy, nothing is more important than children’s life.

  12. क्या6/7घंटे तक लगातार कोई मास्क लगा सकता है फिर बच्चे जो स्वाभाविक रूप चंचल स्वभाव के होते हैं।एक घंटे मेँ ही साँस फूलने लगती है।इस लिए जब तक वैक्सीन नहीं आ जाती है स्कूल खोलना उचित नही है।क्योंकि बच्चों को कंट्रोल करना मुश्किल है।जैसे कि सभी माता पिता जानते हैं।

  13. As a student I say actually how many days u stay at home ;these all days legal or illegal they started to cutting the trees, etc. Technology who need technology, by diminishing beautiful NATURE. So corona has made to understand not disturb or distrove anything

  14. Please don’t reopen the school .. parents are more worried thn the students i ‘ve stucked in chhattisgarh and my school is in Jharkhand so how could I attend my classes since trains are still not running..

  15. School should take responsibility that whether children is coming from containment area or not. Our school is saying we will reopen and if anything happens they will not take responsibility clearly mentioned in consent form. So that’s why among 86 students only 12 gave consent excluding me.

  16. Even if schools remains closed students are prone to infection ,if any member in their family test positive for covid-19 then they will also get infected . So by closing school government is just derailing or delaying the fact that even small kids and senior students are prone to infection ,even after not going to school and you are just slowing down education in India taken the fact internet problems

  17. It is not a very wise idea to open school. Child safety is the priority for parent. When everything is going well with online classes then why in a hurry to open and risk life

  18. I think the govt should have some patience and should not open the school for atleast this year.In India Covid has reached stage 3.So the rate of spread of virus is even more higher.Countries like USA have suffered alot more after opening school so think what would happen if India opens schools.So for now its best not to open schools.

  19. स्कूल को खोल देना चाहिए क्योंकि आनलाइन पढाई उतनी अच्छी नहीं हो रहा है, स्कूल की तुलना में|
    बच्चों के भविष्य के बारे में सोचना चाहिए अभिभावकों को॥

    में स्कूल को बंद होने पर कोई फायदा नहीं देखता

  20. It is not good time to reopen the school because we are see covid cases increases in the world and India in top 5 of covid cases and reopen of school may more increases the cases of covid

  21. School should reopen ………if yu don’t agree than ans these ques
    School are more/less important than wine shops?
    In a class is there more students than cinema hall or shoping malls or vegetable markets?

    When every unnecessary places for country are opened than why school which is necessary for country should not be opened??

    • Greetings, I strongly disagree with your opinion on this matter. Schools should not be opened during this pandemic and education should be imparted to the students through online classes only. In counter to your statement about the opening of wine shops, malls, vegetable markets, etc… Wine and liquor shops were opened by the government first as they earn a lot of money from the taxes imposed on such beverages. Malls and restaurants have been opened by the government as a desperate attempt to revive the economy but everyone can see how much these places have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 virus in the country. If opened, schools will become another COVID-19 hotspot and this time would be risking the lives of precious students and their families. Education should be limited to online classes till there is a vaccine available for the virus. Thank you.

  22. Dear expert sir
    It is a matter of child. If any thing happen to child sir their parents will lose nothing hapoen to u sir.
    Expert sir whatever u want to open please open but do not give ur opinion to open the school

  23. When will be the schools are going to be open. And what are it’s exact date are both CBSE and NIOS are opening or only CBSE has decided to open the school

  24. The government is going to act behalf of private schools who want to open schools in such a pandemic situation, in order to earn money.
    The thing is every country did opened the school, but after a problem they immediately shut downed the schools. But india won’t do that, thats why continuing online classes is best.
    Also, these private schools don’t follow all the rules always. I know that most private schools keeping school open in government holiday telling students to come in non uniform so that school don’t get caught.

    I know how hard it is to wear mask for just 30 minutes, I get a lot of headache.
    I heard somebody saying that not opening the school is going to cause mental illness to students. But what happens if they open the school.

    So, at last I conclude that if school opens we can see more rise in covid cases and deaths because school is a place where students from every corner of society come from. Of course every house we have grandmother and grandfather. Are we ready to loose them.

  25. It is a very bad decision to reopen the schools . By doing this you are not only exposing the children but their parents and grandparents also who are already having various diseases.
    Is school more important than life??

  26. It is not the correct time to reopen schoos and college this year.online class should be keep going on.covid cases are increasing day by day.life is more important than schools and colleges

  27. Please reopen the schools. Students like me are becoming more anxious and restless. Please understand the mental health of the students is deteriorating. Ask the students who actually have to go to school. Don’t mix politics and education.
    Online classes are damn ineffective. It’s just an excuse.

    It’s just a student’s point of view.

  28. Say ur children to maintain social distance and wearing mask and take their own bottle and Eat a good hygienic food and try to make their surrounding clean Then every thing will be okhh…

  29. School is not important more than a life because 1 year we can destroy but we can’t destroy our life some people get success without school also but live is important if we are not live only then how we will success in our life so please take your decision back and don’t open the school

  30. its not a good time to open school because life is more important that school……

    a good time to open school because life is more important that school……

    Harsha

  31. School should reopen only when cases becomes a little bit less otherwise it will lead to conditions that we have never imagined in our dreams.

  32. School is open quickly on the 21 September many students had giving board exam not prepare the all the subject so open the school I will be happy to open the schedule

  33. Okay, *35 per cent of children in the age group of 5-17 tested positive for antibodies — the highest percentage among all participants. Indore’s survey found a seroprevalence of about 7 per cent in children, which is similar to that of adults*. “”As per the article we might just be carrier of disease wat if we infect our parents or our grandparents??? Have u thought abt tat….think not only abt 5-17 think even abt adults we live in the same family if 5-17….

    • Its not good time to reopen the school , as the trains also had not started , since covid is not under control and the cases are going on increasing in this unlock 4 pandemic time …..as the student studying online is better for the time…….I am strictly against for the reopen of the school …….those country who had started the school …they had got many covid cases ….so its my personal suggestion …not to reopen the school ..

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