New Delhi: The outbreak of Omicron has triggered panic the world as most of the authorities are reviewing and monitoring the Covid-19 situation. However, parents and scientists are still questioning the reopening of schools since children are not vaccinated in India. Most of the parents are still looking forward to adopting online education as a mode of schooling as of now.
“My child was has a weakened immune system. Also, children are vulnerable to Covid-19 because they have not been immunised. I’ve restricted him from getting close to his friends, but he is a kid, and like any other kid, he will disobey me at some point. They also have exams, and the school does not use a hybrid model of teaching. We were alarmed when we heard that a child had tested positive for Covid-19, so we went to the school and objected and questioned the officials, but they denied it. I’m still afraid to send my child to school,” a parent, whose child is in class 9 at Calcutta Public School, told The Sunday Guardian.
Similarly, many other parents, whose children are studying in several schools in Delhi, are accepting the online style of education. Many parents continue to be hesitant to send their children to school because they are concerned about the new Covid-19 variant. “The hybrid teaching style is still in use, and the majority of students are enrolled in online classes. Some students, however, attend physical education lessons, but I do not send my child to school. The school has requested once to send him (her child) for physical classes but we didn’t. The school has not sent any requests since then,” a parent whose child attends GD Goenka, Delhi, told our correspondent.
Delhi, UP, Haryana, HP, Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka, TN, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan, among others, have reported reopening schools. Although almost all students intend to return to school, the Omicron outbreak has expressed concern about the decision to reopen schools.
Several microbiologists and school officials have opposing viewpoints on the subject. Dr Mitesh H Patel, a microbiologist from Ahmadabad, Gujarat, told this paper, “I don’t think that reopening of schools is a wise decision. We need to observe and monitor the Omicron cases in India and the situation which is about to evolve after the winter vacation. The UK has shown a significant rise in Omicron cases in the past 30 days even after a high vaccination rate. The same circumstances may arise in India. Since children are unvaccinated, so they are most vulnerable group. Once the cases arise, authorities need to review the situation and make the decision of reopening the schools accordingly.”
However, most of the school authorities are not agreeing to shut their schools. While speaking on this, a teacher, on condition of anonymity, from DAV Public School, MTPS, Bankura, told, “Schools are following Covid-19 protocols. If the cases increase, then the government must impose a strict lockdown. However, I feel that it is high time to start school since the education system has collapsed, and online education cannot be substituted by offline education. In the majority of the cases, children are immune to Covid-19 and as of now, there have been no serious Covid-19 cases among children.”
However, at least 29 students in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Kalyani, West Bengal, were tested positive for Covid-19. As per the reports, the infected students were in class 9 and class 10, the school authorities had asked their parents to take them home. Most of the students showed symptoms like cold and cough, health authorities have started testing other students for infection.
18 students of the Ghansoli area, Navi Mumbai, were tested positive for Covid-19. It led to the shutting down of the school. The health experts are concerned about the school-going children being affected by Covid-19, due to rising cases of the new variant.