In a major development, Public health experts from three medical associations have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting that schools and other educational institutions should be reopened in a graded manner. The Indian Public Health Association, the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and the Indian Association of Epidemiologists stated that the closure has had a significant impact on the teaching-learning system and mental health of the children.
“It is time now to move towards normalcy. The opening of schools and other educational institutions could be started in a graded manner. There should be a pragmatic approach, especially in areas where a sufficient population is already infected,” the experts said.
Twenty members of the joint Covid-19 task force went on to say that schools may be opened with due safety measures with social distancing, alternate workdays and with adequate surveillance even in low infection areas.
In the Unlock-4 guidelines issued by the government, schools and educational institutes have been directed to remain closed. The experts said that the impact of school closure is higher on the children of lower socio-economic strata, who do not have social capital for alternatives like digital platforms.
They requested the government to discontinue the imposition of lockdown as a strategy to control the spread of coronavirus infection and said that limited restrictions should be imposed in epidemiologically-defined clusters for short periods.