Doctors make a case against reopening of Delhi schools | Delhi News Times of India
NEW DELHI: Schools should be reopened only when the local epidemiological parameters of Covid-19 are favourable, a report prepared by a task force constituted by Indian...
- Oct 18, 2020
NEW DELHI: Schools should be reopened only when the local epidemiological parameters of Covid-19 are favourable, a report prepared by a task force constituted by Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) has recommended.
The report, which has been published online in Indian Paediatrics, recommends the number of new cases in the district should be steadily decreasing for the preceding two weeks before schools can be reopened.
Also, case positivity rate – number of positive cases from those tested – should be less than five for preceding two weeks, it adds. The ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines allow reopening of schools in a graded manner from October 15. However, many states and union territories, including Delhi, have decided against it due to high incidence of Covid-19.
In Delhi, the case positivity rate is above five per cent and even the absolute number of cases is on the rise over the past few days. On Thursday, for example, Delhi recorded 3,483 positive cases of Covid-19 and the case positivity rate was 6.23.
Dr Vinay Aggarwal, executive member of Delhi Medical Council (DMC), also said that the current situation wasn’t suitable to reopen schools in Delhi. “It may be difficult to maintain discipline among school students, for example to check intermingling, ensure hand hygiene, coughing etiquettes and wearing masks,” he added.
The IAP task force, which studied policy adopted by countries like the US to reopen schools, has suggested students should be divided and called in different batches, in different shifts/alternate days and in staggered timings once the schools are reopened. It has also recommended that classrooms should be kept ventilated by opening the doors and windows and air-conditioners should be put off and, wherever possible, outdoor spaces like school grounds should preferably be utilised to conduct classes.
“A distance of at least one metre should be strictly maintained between any two individuals on school premises. School gates, assemblies, toilets, libraries and breaks should be strictly monitored to avoid overcrowding. Eating during school hours or meal sharing should be discouraged,” the IAP task force has stated in its report. Nearly 240 million school going students in India are homebound owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IAP report says, adding further that the loss in learning in the pandemic is estimated to be up to 50% of the expected academic level.
Remote learning has been adopted by many institutions for continuity of education during the pandemic. However, according to Dr Suneela Garg, president elect of Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM), digital reach isn’t adequate in India. Online classes, she added, are leading to a lot of stress and children are not able to take classes seriously. “Parents have limited resources at home like smart phones which have to be shared with children,” Dr Garg said.
The IAPSM president said strict adherence to physical distancing, good hygiene practices and taking care of sick children are important.
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