The Delhi government has directed private and non-private schools to vaccinate their teachers and staff before the reopening for classes 9-12 from September 1. The Delhi government, following a marked improvement in the COVID-19 situation, on Friday announced that schools for classes 9 to 12, colleges and coaching institutions will report from September 1.
An official circular stated that it is the prime concern of Directorate of Education, GNCT of Delhi to ensure the vaccination of all teachers and staff working in schools of Delhi, and hereby directed to ensure that their teachers and staff get vaccinated immediately. “All the private aided/unaided schools are also advised to facilitate their teachers and staff by making special arrangements for vaccination at schools/cluster levels in consultation and coordination with concerned authorities,” it said.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). A panel set up by the DDMA had earlier this week, according to PTI, submitted its report recommending a phase-wise reopening of schools in the national capital. Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister, said a final decision was yet to be made regarding junior classes. He highlighted that a call would be taken after analyzing the effect of reopening schools for senior classes.
However, medical experts advised parents to tread with caution and play an active role by teaching COVID protocols to children. Dr Rahul Nagpal, Director, Pediatrics and Neonatology at Fortis Hospital, in Vasant Kunj, told PTI that schools have to open in a staggered manner with proper guidelines in place. “What I am seeing is that children are completely lost and we have to look at their mental faculties. Children have to be educated about the new normal by parents,” he said. “As for schools, they have to ensure proper ventilation in classrooms which is a problem and they might go for hybrid education, some of it might be offline and online.”
Dr Sarita Sharma, Senior Pediatric Consultant, PSRI Hospital, said it is mandatory to immunize the staff against COVID-19 before opening schools. “We don’t have any vaccines against COVID-19 for children available in India as of now, but after taking proper precautions and ensuring coronavirus-appropriate behavior, schools can be reopened,” she said. “All the teachers, caregivers, ancillary staff of schools should be fully immunized against COVID-19 before opening schools.”
Dr Manish Mannan, HOD, Pediatrics and Neonatology, Paras Healthcare, believes the side effects of isolation in children are far severe than that of COVID-19 infection. “Mental illnesses, obesity, aggressive behavior, sleep disorders and other cognitive problems have been rising at an alarming rate which has been going unnoticed. The physical exercises, the brain quiz classes have gone missing during the last year, even after parents tried their best to meet the needs.”
He also highlighted that ICMR had stated that kids have a better metabolism to handle viruses. “I believe that too by taking care of their health and nutrition we should allow kids to go to school. It’s good for their mental as well as physical wellbeing.”