Let’s go to school
The risk of corona is on the rise again as new cases in Kerala and the northeastern states have seen an increase in the number of active patients as well as an increase in the infection rate. On the other hand, schools, colleges and universities are set to open or have opend up at many places.
Many states have already done so. In many states, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab, schools above Class IX were opened in July, though in offline classes as the numbers of the second wave of corona virus began to close, the provinces began to open their doors to schools.
In this series Uttarakhand is also going to open schools above class 9th while this arrangement will also be started for classes 6th to 8th. Schools will also be opened in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
In Punjab, schools are being opened for all children from class I to X and many have already been opened. Apart from this, many states can be seen in the line of opening schools.
A recent CIRO survey also found that antibodies were found in 57 per cent of children aged 6 to 9 years in the country, compared to 62 per cent in children aged 10 to 17 years. It may be mentioned that primary schools in the country have been closed since March 2020.
The war with Corona continues. At the same time, there is a constant struggle in the field of education and medicine. Although health is first in proportion to the times, education cannot be left behind for long.
There should be a concerted effort to prevent it from becoming a fistula. This is probably the reason why the states have shown a positive attitude towards opening schools after the second wave, but it also does not look completely safe. More than a hundred children have been found infected with the virus in the country as the virus is stagnant and in Kerala.
It is nothing short of an ominous sign that the third wave cannot be ignored at all. The Delta variant of the Corona has engulfed almost 132 countries these days and its horrors can be gauged from this. The rise of the C-Delta variant in 125 countries last week indicates that it is about to take over the world. European countries are once again wary of the Corona.
Significantly, in countries like the United States, the vaccination rate is almost 50 per cent, while in India the figure is very low. While the second dose is still taking a long time, there is no vaccination campaign for children under the age of 18, so opening schools will not be affected by the corona. Although caution is a better way to avoid it, it is not possible to say with certainty how much it will be followed.
Despite all this, there is no denying the fact that prolonged school closures have increased the psychological pressure on children and affected their development. The loss of education can be seen on a large scale. Attempts have certainly been made to address this shortfall but it has been insufficient.
Research has also shown that children are going through psychological stress and impact, although adults are not immune and no country in the world is immune to it. Is this the right time to open a school? It may be a topic of discussion but how long schools will be closed is a matter of concern.
Given the Corona’s predicament, the decision to reopen the school is not a trivial matter. The views of the parents are also being taken into consideration but the schools have to make sure that the classes are safe for the children. However, there is a positive rationale behind this. It has been observed that during the epidemic, many countries of the world kept schools open for primary school children and the risk of epidemic did not increase.
Pertinently, the school education is a matter for the states in the constitution. It has become difficult to pay and many schools are on the verge of closure. Schools in different states of India have different conditions of closure. Schools in Jharkhand, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and Telangana are still closed. Fear of a third wave in which 40 per cent of the population is considered a threat, but the courage to reopen schools is not unreasonable.
(The author is a Retired Principal based at Malout in Punjab)