The good-old, traditional classroom and lab training for millions of the children and youth in schools and colleges has been held up since March 2020 in India due to Coronavirus pandemic and when things started to look up and several states announced partial reopening this July-August, a very recent survey finding claiming that 48% parents want reopening after children are vaccinated has eclipsed the prospect of schools reopening fully.
The survey over 32,000 parents done by online platform Local Circles, also says that 21% parents are in favour of opening schools with vaccination. The survey found that around 30 percent of parents were ready to send their children to school if the coronavirus cases in their district come down to zero. On July 27, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told a BJP parliamentary committee that vaccine for children in the country could be launched in August. The Government has advised all states and UTs to speed up vaccination of teachers, support staff and other staff in schools in a bid to facilitate reopening without any vaccination gaps.
The design of the survey has been questioned by experts. According to Advocate Ashok Agarwal, President All India Parents Association, there is no rationale in asking parents on reopening for they are not experts. “It has to come from scientific and medical experts. Incidentally the benefits of reopening overweigh shutdown logic now and there is a fear that those dropping out will be lost forever to child labor, child marriages and trafficking,” he added.
As per a recent study King’s College London scientists say children who become ill with coronavirus rarely experience long-term symptoms, with most recovering in less than a week. While a small group of children may experience prolonged illness, they were “reassured” that number was low. This peer-reviewed study, published in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal, wanted to understand how Covid affected children and how it compared to other respiratory diseases. The study looked at 1,734 children, aged between five and 17, who were reported to have developed symptoms and tested positive for Covid between September 2020 and February 2021.
The researchers say it’s very difficult to know how many children were infected during this time period as the four UK nations record data differently, but they estimate more than 400,000 children and young people tested positive.
Fewer than one in 20 (4%) were found to have experienced symptoms for four weeks or more, with one in 50 (2%) having symptoms for more than eight weeks.
The most common symptoms reported were headaches and tiredness. Others included a sore throat and loss of smell. On average, older children were typically ill for slightly longer than primary school children, with those aged between 12 and 17 taking a week to recover while for younger children the illness lasted five days.
It’s the scientists hope that these findings will reassure families, while also validating those who have experienced prolonged illness.
The team also looked at an equal number of children who had symptoms but tested negative for Covid.Only a few children – 15 out of 1,734 – had symptoms for at least 28 days, fewer than one in 100.
Emma Duncan, professor of clinical endocrinology at King’s College London who worked on the research, said the “takeaway message” was: “Can children have prolonged illness after Covid-19? Yes they can, but it’s not common and most of these children get better with time.
Meanwhile caught in a paradox of yes or no, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh have already announced partial reopening and so far there is no report of any infection.
The Maharashtra government has reopened schools for students of classes 8th-12th in areas where there are no coronavirus cases. Parents were consulted regarding the formulation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for schools. At least 5,947 schools in rural Maharashtra, which had been closed due to the Covid pandemic, reopened on July 16 for classes 8 to 12 with safety protocols in place.
Punjab reopened all schools from August 2 comes as the state government is relaxing COVID restrictions as cases are decreasing. The schools will function from 8 am to 2 pm and parents will have to give written consent before sending their children to schools.
Uttarakhand is reopening schools for Class 9-12 students from Aug 2. This is the first time the state will be reopening schools that were closed due to the pandemic. As part of the phased reopening, Uttarakhand will open schools for Class 6-8 students from August 12, officials said in an order on Saturday.
Chhattisgarh is reopening schools with 50% attendance for Class 10 and 12 students of government-run and private schools. The schools will be opening in districts where the COVID-19 positivity rate for the last seven days will be 1% or less.
The Himachal Pradesh government is reopened schools for Class 10 and 12 students from Aug 2.
High and intermediate schools in Uttar Pradesh will resume physical classes from August 16, but with 50 per cent attendance, an order issued by the state government has said. Apart from this, instructions have also been issued regarding the commencement of classes in higher educational institutes from September 1.
Andhra Pradesh will reopen schools from August 16 .
Schools in Gujarat have reopened for classes 9 to 11 on July 26, but with 50 per cent attendance. When classes 10 and 12 reopened in January 2021, the average attendance reported was nearly 45 per cent. This was when the first wave of Covid-19 was declining in Gujarat.
The Madhya Pradesh government reopened schools for classes 11 and 12 with 50 per cent attendance from July 26. As per the standard operating procedure (SOP), physical classes for students of 9th and 10th standard resume once a week from August 5.
Classes are being held twice a week for students of classes 11 and 12, and virtual sessions are also there. Students of Class 9 will attend school on Saturdays and for those in Class 10, sessions will be held on Wednesdays.
It has been decided to open all the schools in Haryana from July 16 for classes 9 to 12, while schools for classes 6 to 8 from July 23
State educational institutions have opened in Bihar from July 12 2021. During this period, 11th and 12th schools, all degree colleges, all government and private universities and technical institutes in the state have been opened with 50 per cent attendance of some student numbers.