The Union education ministry has asked states and union territories for parent’s suggestions and feedback as to when to reopen the schools.
On July 20, India registered the highest single-day jump of 40,425 fresh COVID-19 cases pushing its tally of total infected people to 11,18,043 while the death toll rose to 27,497, as per the official figures.
With these horrifying figures in place, a group of epidemiologists are arguing to reopen the educational institutions and encouraging healthy individuals to attend offices in person once the COVID-19 curve stabilises.
Read on to find out more…
When Will The Educational Institutions Open?
On June 3 in an interview, the Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal had revealed that schools and colleges which have remained closed since around March 16 and will probably reopen after August 2020.
A circular sent by the Department of School Education and Literacy, HRD Ministry, had also asked for parent’s expectations from schools as and when they reopen.
The education secretaries of all states and union territories were asked to report with the feedback by July 20.
Feedback Questions Asked to Parents Regarding Reopening of Schools:
The circular from the HRD ministry said,
“What is the likely period when they (parents) will be comfortable with reopening of schools —August / September / October 2020.
What are the parents’ expectations from schools — when they reopen?
Any other feedback/remarks in this regard.”
However,with the COVID-19 cases escalating, the decision to reopen schools after August will be heard again. Chances of school reopening might get postponed to October or even later!
Doctors Say Herd Immunity Can Be Solution To Contain COVID-19!
At the same time, that is on July 20, 4 senior doctors, including a working and a retired community medicine specialist at AIIMS, Delhi in a statement said that while the opening of schools and colleges, at present, seems like a bizarre idea that will only put the future of the country at risk, there could be a silver lining.
Dr Sanjay K Rai, professor, Centre of community medicine, AIIMS, Delhi said, “If schools and colleges go back to functioning in full swing, keeping in mind distancing and sanitisation norms, there is a possibility that sooner or later, everyone will get exposed.”
In addition he said, “Children have fresh immunity, and they can be major contributors to us achieving herd immunity. The process is quite complex, though – careful interpretation and increase in testing are vital for it to be successful.”
“If we choose to open schools and colleges once the curve stabilises, there are very strong chances that we will be able to achieve herd immunity,” said Dr Amitav Banerjee, a professor of community medicine at the Dr DY Patil Medical College, Pune.
He highlighted by citing that 24 districts in the USA did not have a single child fatality. He said, “Children and young adults have a fresh immunity, which makes them better prepared to fight infections. It has a multiplier effect – if we develop it, we can protect many people.”
The Much Needed Silver Lining!
The nation is gradually returning back to normalcy after being in a lockdown since March, 2020.
Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare pointed out that despite surging fresh corona virus cases, the country’s case fatality rate due to the infection is progressively falling and is currently at 2.46% – one of the lowest in the world.
The ministry said, “Effective clinical management of the moderate and severe cases through a well-executed Standard of Care protocol has ensured a high rate of recovery among the COVID-19 patients.”
It also highlighted that the Centre is hand-holding and supporting the state governments in collectively combating COVID.
The Final Word!
South Korea, a country which worked from an early stage to curb the pandemic, just-released large-scale study. Those findings suggest that older children, between 10 and 19, transmit the virus as much as adults do. The findings have also been accepted by US public health institutions. They have admitted to community spread via older students to adults and health-risk individuals. On the other hand, in Denmark, back in April, their experience stated that containment in the community has to precede school reopening.
However, in India, many people live in joint families with people having generational gaps. According to the findings, if the children do transmit the virus, the elderly people are being put at risk as the younger generation have a stronger immune system if they don’t have any existing disease.
Many students in India are being affected by the shutdown of the educational institutions. The ones who don’t have internet access or devices for online education or even electricity are suffering the most.
Hence the issue of reopening schools in a phased and secure manner must be addressed soon and should also be based mainly on epidemiological evidence and academic expert advice.