More than 150 government school students have tested positive for Covid-19 in Rewari, Jind and districts of Haryana in the last three days, officials Wednesday said, adding that such educational institutions have now been ordered shut for a few days. Most of the children, all students of classes 9 to 12, were asymptomatic and under home isolation, they said. The figures may go up as results of several samples collected till Tuesday was still pending. While 91 students from 13 schools in Rewari district have tested positive, 30 students and 10 teachers of various schools in Jind district too have contracted the infection. Thirty-four students and two teachers from Jhajjar district were also found infected with the virus.
Health Department officials said the schools where the students tested positive have been shut for a few days as per government guidelines. Besides, those who had come into contact with the children and the teachers were also being screened and tested.
Nineteen of the 35 students of Government Senior Secondary School at village Kund in Rewari district, whose samples were taken a few days ago, tested positive for the infection, Deputy Commissioner Yashender Singh said Wednesday. “All the children are stable and under home isolation. Medical teams are at the job and regularly monitoring their health,” he said.
Sunil Yadav, principal of the school, told The Indian Express that “adequate safety protocols were duly followed” on the premises and students may have contracted infection outside school.
“We have a total strength of 430 students (classes 9-12), but only 120-160 students were coming to school for classes, being held in two shifts of two and a half hours each. In school, students always had masks on and used hand sanitisers. Chances are they did not follow the social distancing norms while on way to the school or at their respective villages”.
He said the students were coming to school only with the consent of their parents. “Now, the school is shut till November 30”.
Majority of the students who tested positive come from Parla village, about 25 kms from Rewari on Rewari-Narnaul road. Village sarpanch Rachna Devi told The Indian Express that “there were not many Covid positive cases in the village” that has a population of approximately 4000. He said it was lileky that the students contracted the infection in the school. “The students must have contacted the virus in school, as otherwise there were only one-two Covid positive cases in the village. Health department’s teams have conducted a random sampling of residents of the village.”
Dr Vijay Prakash, nodal officer for Covid-19 in Rewari, talking to the Indian Express, said, “Over the last three days, we took samples of 1,037 students from 12 schools of Rewari. Out of these, the report of 250 samples are still awaited”.
He added that the report of pending 250 samples was expected Thursday. “Actually, we had fallen short of the testing kits. We have now got additional kits,” Dr Prakash said. He said most of the students were asymptomatic. “Only one or two had mild symptoms of cold and cough,” he said, adding, “although the safety protocols are being followed in schools, but children do mix up with each other, form groups and play together”.
Meanwhile, Jind district’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Manjeet Singh said nearly 4,800 random samples were collected from the schools during the past about two weeks. “So far, 30 students and 10 teachers have tested positive. Though they are doing fine, the health department teams are keeping a close watch and regularly monitoring their condition,” he said.
Jhajjar district’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Sanjay said 34 students and two teachers have tested positive for the virus.
“We had randomly collected 1,200 samples before Diwali and 34 students and two teachers were found Covid-19 positive,” he said.
Dr Sanjay said he has written a letter to the district education officer stating that all school students, teachers and other staff members who show influenza-like symptoms must immediately report to the health authorities. “The health department will start a drive in schools and get such people tested,” he said.
Haryana allowed schools to reopen for Classes 9 to 12 on November 2 after eight months of suspension owing to the pandemic. Over last few days, several students in various districts, including Hisar, Kaithal, Jind, Mahendragarh and Sirsa, were found positive. Some teachers too were found infected.
The health department has now ordered a random sampling in schools across the state. Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rajeev Arora also held a meeting with the civil surgeons of all the districts Thursday evening and issued instructions to ramp up the testing in all the schools.
Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala in a tweet in Hindi said, “In Haryana, 149 school students and 12 teachers have tested Covid positive, which is a cause of serious concern. Is the government ensuring distribution of masks and sanitisers and following of social distancing norms in schools? The chief minister should tell how the spread of infection will be checked and what is the policy being adopted in this regard,” he added.
State Health Minister Anil Vij, in a statement, said the health department teams will conduct checkups of students and staffers of all schools. He also said that strict action will be taken against the schools which are found not properly following the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“We need to follow the safety protocols to combat Covid-19 even more strictly. The life and safety protocols shall go side by side. If the government has to introduce any more stringent measures, we shall surely do that,” Vij said.
Until Wednesday, Haryana has reported 2,07,039 coronavirus cases with 2,039 fatalities.
Earlier in September, students studying in classes 9 to 12 were allowed to visit their institutions outside containment zones only to consult their teachers to clear any doubts. Schools have been asked by authorities to follow all SOPs issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently.
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