In the wake of decision to reopen the schools in Andhra Pradesh from September 5, parents are in grave dilemma of sending their children back to school amid the coronavirus threat still looming large. Among many such parents is Bhavani, who is worried to send her fourth class-studying son back to his private school in Visakhapatnam. The schools in the state have remained shut since the second week of March, a week before the first phase of lockdown was announced, when India began seeing a gradual rise in COVID-19 cases. Almost five months since the closure, after conducting classes online and via videos, the schools have now hinted at reopening with a list of measures.
However, on an average of 400 fresh Covid-19 positive cases reported each day in Vizag coupled with deaths relating to, is a worrying spot. Parents said that for those hailing from the worst affected zones like Appughar, Kobbari Thota, Peda Jalaripeta and other red zones, it is a difficult call to make. “While social distancing norms in schools have been taken care of, what about their travel and safety in transit,” Bhavani questioned. “My son is asthmatic and he goes to the school which is 4 kilometres away in a private van. How can we be sure that children like him don’t get infected?” she asked.
Narmada, a class 12 student’s parent, voiced her doubts about the arrangements the school will make to ensure all children are safe. “This particular private school is saying they will equip themselves with sanitisers and other measures to prevent spread. How can we be assured this will happen? Moreover, the burden is on parents to provide status of child’s health twice a month. A private practitioner will do it, but how are we going to standardise the procedure to ascertain the status?” she said.
The mother of a 3-year-old in a nursery group, Vibha is certain about not sending her kid to school anytime soon. She said, “I think we need to wait it out. The news of paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (a condition in which the kids’ hearts and other organs are affected, often requiring intensive care and is linked to COVID-19), is also gaining pace across all regions in India.
Even as there are ongoing studies about their role in the chain of transmission of Covid-19 positive cases, many argue that the opening of schools is not good decision for the time being.
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