Time to Reopen Schools After Vaccinating Adults: NTAGI

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Time to Reopen Schools After Vaccinating Adults: NTAGI

It’s time to reopen schools, however, only after vaccinating the adults against the COVID-19 virus, said Dr NK Arora chairman of Covid-19 working group under the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization.

“Time has now come that schools should be opened in a phased manner. However, the adults – the parents and other members of the family – should be immunised against COVID,” said Dr NK Arora,  as reported by news agency ANI.

“Similarly, in schools, teachers, employees, bus drivers whoever is coming in contact (should be vaccinated) so that there is a protective ring around children. Children don’t get the severe disease or get very sick with COVID,” he added.

Currently, vaccines are not available for school going students as they fall under the age bracket of 18 and India has not started vaccinating the younger population. Schools have been shut since mid-March 2020 – one of the longest closures of schools in history. Even though classes are being run online, experts believe that there are large learning gaps among students.

A study by Azim Premji University found that 92% of children on average have lost at least one specific language ability and 82% of children on average have lost at least one specific mathematical ability from the previous year across all classes.

Schools, however, are shut for most parts of the country amid fear of the third wave of COVID-19 and the non-availability of a vaccine for kids.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief too had earlier given a nod to reopening of schools. ICMR DG Dr. Balram Bhargava had said, “Children can handle viral infection better, they have less number of receptors. So once the decision is taken and all the staff vaccinated it would be good to open primary schools first.” As opposed to the current practice where senior classes from 9-12 are invited to school first, Bhargava said that the primary Schools from classes 1 to 5 should be opened first.

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