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‘Schools Should Reopen In Stages’: AIIMS Director Amid Fears Over Third Covid Wave

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New Delhi: Schools in the country, which have been mostly closed since March last year as the coronavirus pandemic spread, should be reopened in areas with fewer coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, according to Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

“I am a proponent of opening up schools in a staggered way for districts that are seeing less virus circulation. It [reopening of schools] can be planned for places having positivity rates below 5 per cent,” Dr Guleria told India Today in an interview on Monday.

Guleria, a member of India’s Covid-19 Task Force, told India Today that these districts should look into bringing children back to school on alternate days and other options for a staggered reopening. He also stated that if surveillance reveals the spread of Covid-19 cases, schools will be closed immediately.

“The reason is not just a normal life for our kids, but also the importance of schooling in the overall development of a child should be looked at,” Guleria stated. 

According to the top doctor, many children in India have developed natural immunity to Covid-19 after being exposed to the coronavirus. Schools have been closed for an extended period of time, and the children have suffered as a result of the limited access, he further added.

To reopen schools, authorities can ensure protocols such as mask use, social distancing, and proper ventilation.

Guleria also mentioned the digital divide, pointing out that classes are mostly held offline and that many students do not have access to an internet connection.” Covid-19 has reaffirmed the need to bridge the gaps in Internet access. The digital divide exists across borders, fields, and generations, impacting virtually every aspect of life,” he was quoted as saying.

Guleria stated in June that authorities should work aggressively on strategies to reopen schools. “I personally feel that we should aggressively work on opening schools because it has really affected the young generation in terms of knowledge and especially the marginalised ones who can’t go for online classes,” Guleria was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the total number of Covid-19 cases in India is now 31,144,229, with 414,108 people dying from coronavirus disease. Following a peak in April and May, the number of Covid-19 cases has been decreasing.

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