No school till vaccinated, rule students & parents

If children can accompany parents to parties, malls, gyms and cinema halls, why not school?

No school till vaccinated, rule students & parents

Amitabh Srivastava

Although Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has recommended that all schools and classes be reopened, parents are reluctant to send unvaccinated children back to school.

DCPCR chairman Anurag Kundu argues that children in any case are going out with parents everywhere. If they can frequent cinema halls, markets and gyms, why would they get infected only in school?

Only 0.1 percent of the children in the age group of 0-9 and 0.2 percent in the age group of 11-19 have been infected by the Coronavirus, he has cited. Fatality rates too have been low at five per million in the 0-9 age group and 18 per million in the 10-19 age group. He quotes ICMR and Lancet reports to claim that there is no evidence to suggest that the third wave would hit children. Moreover, schools in UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab have already reopened. So, why not in Delhi?

Schools for students in senior classes are already open though. Dr. Mala Gupta, Principal of Springdales School, Pusa Road, informs that all students coming to school have to bring an NOC from their parents and this is sent to the Directorate of Education along with attendance reports.

“I have been able to get children for Classes XI and XII for the exams. But children in other classes, including class IX are not willing to come. I even received anonymous threats on mail when I declared the school open. Once the exams got over,students stopped coming, giving excuses that they are going out of station or on vacation,” said another principal on condition of anonymity.

There is little that schools can do, they say. And while conceding that online classes and markings are unsatisfactory and often faked, ‘we have no option but to live with this’, they add. The situation is unlikely to get normal before April, 2022, they maintain.

Deepak Khattar, father of a child in Class II, says, “I know his mother has to sit down with him for online classes despite her own job but we are willing to take that pain. But sending such a small child to school is a strict ‘no’ as far as I am concerned.”

Dr. Kiran Aggarwal, a well-known paediatrician and child rights activist points at the declining learning curve and depression among children forced to stay at home.

“Some children are succumbing to depression, doing only online classes. It is a torture for the mother to make the child sit still for that one hour because it is in the nature of children to run around and play unless he is in school and sees her friends sitting quietly.”

At an international seminar on Disaster Management she attended, Dr Aggarwal recalls, the consensus was that the best way to bring children back to normal life after any disaster is to open the schools, even under trees because it allows the child emotional bonding and support from other children.

But even in school, the children need to follow rules, wear masks and maintain distance. But in a country where police are required to penalise adults for not wearing masks, she is sceptical about compliance in schools.

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