Andhra Pradesh

COVID challenge a tightrope walk for school authorities

students being vaccinated at a school in Vijayawada.

students being vaccinated at a school in Vijayawada.

A massive spike in COVID-19 infections has escalated anxiety and worry among parents of school-going children.

Schools have reopened after Sankranti holidays but many concerned parents are holding their children back at home, away from physical classes fearing spread of the infection. “COVID cases are on the rise in the apartment we live in. It’s the same everywhereThe official numbers given by the government daily is only the tip of the iceberg,” says Sabbineni Suresh, a banker, whose son Nanda Kishore is a sixth grader.

Gopisetti Nikitha echoes similar concerns over sending her 12-year-old daughter to school amidst increasing number of COVID cases. “The Sankranti festival seems to have further contributed to the burgeoning infections,” she says, adding that she does not intend to invite any risk by sending her daughter to school now.

The first and second waves of the pandemic kept children out of schools for a prolonged period and experts have been raising concerns over the multi-pronged impact of it on the young minds. As far as the issue of running the schools amidst the pandemic is concerned, the government is on a sticky wicket. It is constantly attacked by the Opposition party leaders who have been demanding closure of schools in the wake of the increasing virus infections across the 13 districts of the State.

TDP general secretary, Nara Lokesh, in a letter addressed to the Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, urged him to order closure of all educational institutions in the larger interests of the students. The Pradesh Congress Committee president Sake Sailajanath too has found fault with the government decision to continue schools amidst raging pandemic. Representatives of various teacher unions are also trying to drive their point home that schools cannot be run at the cost of the children’s health safety.

But the government is determined to do the balancing act- run the schools by strictly adhering to the COVID protocol by throwing a safety net around school campuses.

“In the given circumstances, the easiest thing for us to do would be to close down the schools. But, there has to be a rationale behind our actions,” said the Commissioner, School Education Department, Suresh Kumar.

Speaking to The Hindu , he said huge loss of the academic hours cannot be compensated. Online classes, he reminds, would not serve the purpose as only as very small percentage of the students have access to the required technology.

Other officials in the department also maintain that there is no evidence to show that schools have turned into a hotspot of COVID infections.

“In fact, children attending physical classes amidst the tight safety net thrown around school campuses are safer than they are at home,” said an official.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 9:09:45 pm |