New Delhi: For the first time in two years, schools in various parts of the nation, including the national capital, will open completely in offline mode from April 1. Schools were shut down in March 2020 ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. While schools reopened in phases whenever the COVID-19 situation permitted, they have been operating in the hybrid mode, and students were allowed to attend offline classes only with their parents’ consent.
The National Progressive Schools Conference (NPSC), which has over 120 private schools as its members, termed the decision “too little, too late”.
Why April 1? It should have been allowed from March 1. Children from nursery to class VIII have a huge learning gap as we are observing them. Teachers are overburdened with online & offline teaching and assessment. They are no less than frontline workers and warriors. Teachers’ mental health and wellbeing are of utmost importance for us to deliver quality education, creating a happy and joyful environment in the school, NPSC Chairperson Sudha Acharya said.
WHO’s COVID-19 Technical Lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove says that while it is paramount for children to be back in school, what we need to do, is follow is precautions to keep families safe from the virus. She explains,
Many countries have put in place and are putting in place precautions to keep schools open safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools operate in communities, and the first thing is to make sure that we try to drive transmission down as much as possible in those communities because the individuals that work at those schools live in the communities. The second is to ensure that we have good systems in place within the school system to be able to monitor the health of the students and staff. This is a plan to be able to detect cases to ensure that children who are unwell stay at home to make sure that there’s good communication with the students themselves, the faculty, as well as the parents so that they know what to do if a student or teacher is unwell.
Dr Maria further says that we need to ensure that there are good provisions within the schools to minimise the opportunity for spread of the COVID 19 virus.
This is about disinfection. It’s about improving ventilation, about distancing, about wearing of masks, she added.
Dr Maria further talks about the steps a school should take if a case is detected in campus. She explains,
It is really important that students have that continuity in terms of their education and their safety and well-being. It’s about having a plan in place. First of all, if students are feeling unwell, we recommend that they stay home and that they’re cared for by a parent or a guardian at home. If there are cases in the school, they need to be able to be detected so that they can receive the proper care. They can receive a test, they can receive the proper care that they’re needed based upon the symptoms that they have. And then we recommend there be contact tracing, same as we do in the general community, if there is a case that has been identified, what we want to do is make sure that we prevent the opportunity from that virus, from transmitting from one individual to another. So it’s important to identify the contacts of those children and those children be in quarantine for a certain number of days so that they don’t have the opportunity to spread, should they be infected. But all of that requires detailed planning by the school, it requires good communication with the students themselves.
Dr Maria also asserts on the importance of vaccination against COVID-19, for those age groups that are eligible.
With inputs from PTI.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.