Updated: June 22, 2021 8:43:34 am
An interim report submitted by a high-level committee constituted by the Karnataka government “to analyse, advice and control Covid-19 third wave” has recommended reopening of schools in a staggered manner, with on-campus classes first beginning for senior-level students.
The 91-page interim report, which was prepared by the committee headed by cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Shetty, has been submitted to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.
The report noted that there was no evidence from anywhere in the world yet to suggest that schools can become hubs for spreading of the virus. “There is an urgent need to offer scientific and definitive guidance for school reopening as any delay in achieving near normalisation of schooling will be more detrimental than Covid-19 itself,” the report mentioned.
The body has also recommended that the government should provide a health cover of Rs 2 lakh to each student attending on-campus classes, in a bid to encourage parents to send their children back to schools.
Further, the panel has suggested that classes can be held in a staggered manner on different days and shifts to allow social distancing norms to be observed. It also suggested that schools should be directed to recruit and use the services of a counsellor and a medically qualified nurse.
Children suffering from chronic ailments and those who are on regular medication should get consent from their respective doctors to attend on-campus classes, the panel stated.
A doctor who was a part of the panel told The Indian Express, “Attending classes physically contribute to the overall development of a child, be it physically or mentally. With schools remaining closed, a considerable share of students from rural areas has been pushed towards malnutrition as well. Some might be impacted further as they might now be victims of child labour, child marriage and other social issues.”
Meanwhile, the high-level committee made “conservative estimates” to project that around 3.4 lakh out of the total 2.3 crore in the state who are 18 years old or below might get infected during the peak of the third wave. While 85 per cent of them would be asymptomatic, as many as 23,804 children might require hospitalisation, according to the experts. They further stated that 6,801 might require admission to ICUs, and 43,358 would require beds at Covid care centres.
Final decision on reopening of schools based on CM’s advice: Education Minister
Meanwhile, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, S Suresh Kumar, on Monday said that a final decision on reopening of schools would be taken as per the advice of chief minister based on the suggestions submitted by the committee. “An appropriate decision on how and when to reopen schools in the state will be taken after the committee’s interim report is reviewed by the CM tomorrow (Tuesday),” he said.
Citing a study by the Department of State Educational Research and Training that indicated 30 per cent of the students in the state were deprived of proper learning due to lack of schooling amid the pandemic, he said, “We are now faced with the challenge of trying to ensure children are not deprived of proper education this year as well,” he said.
Kumar added, “However, even as schools are eager to reopen and it is an acknowledged fact that classroom learning is important, there are several factors that need to be considered before taking a final decision.”
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