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Monday, September 27, 2021

School, college reopening on the horizon in Delhi, expert panel to prepare roadmap

Experts at the meeting advised the Delhi Health Department to undertake an advanced sero-survey and augment genome sequencing efforts, besides prioritising vaccination.

Written by Abhinaya Harigovind | New Delhi |
August 6, 2021 8:15:57 pm
While some parents are supportive of their children going back to classes, others think it's still risky for children to be attending schools at this point. File/ representational image

School closure for over a year has led to a major loss of learning and it is now time to reopen schools, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia submitted at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Friday, which also decided to constitute a committee of experts to evaluate the matter.

The committee of experts will be set up with officials of the Education and Health departments to chalk out a detailed plan, along with standard operating procedures (SOPs), for reopening of schools and colleges, according to officials present at the meeting. Preparedness of schools to adhere to SOPs, vaccination of teachers and other staff, and concerns of parents and students will be evaluated before a decision is taken.

It was noted at the meeting that in-principle, there is no harm in opening schools if some prerequisites are met. Parent-teacher meetings (PTMs) were held at government schools last month, and the Delhi government had also recently sought suggestions from parents, students, and teachers on the matter.

It was noted at the DDMA meeting that of the 8 lakh parents who attended the PTMs, 90% want schools to reopen. A total of 33,000 people e-mailed suggestions to the Deputy CM’s office and 58% of them wanted educational institutions to reopen.

The DDMA meeting, chaired by Lt-Governor Anil Baijal, was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Sisodia, NITI Aayog member V K Paul, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, and other officials.

Experts at the meeting advised the Delhi Health Department to undertake an advanced sero-survey and augment genome sequencing efforts, besides prioritising vaccination.

The meeting concluded that the controlled Covid situation at present should be utilised for undertaking a sero-survey that takes “extended epidemiological dimensions into account and identifies susceptible pools of people”, according to officials at the meeting.

Measures to deal with a possible surge in infections, like ensuring oxygen and drug availability and hospital infrastructure, should be put in place by the end of August, experts at the meeting suggested. Targeted surveillance and testing for the infection will be taken up.

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