Published: 31st December 2021
Schools in Gujarat say shift to virtual classes needed as COVID cases rise, write to CM Patel
Following a significant fall in new infections, the Gujarat government had first allowed the physical reopening of higher secondary and secondary schools from July
Concerned about the rise in the COVID-19 cases, an association of schools in Gujarat, on December 31, urged Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel to consider discontinuing in-person education at schools in a phased manner. Just a day earlier, the state recorded 573 new cases of the Coronavirus and a total of 97 cases of the Omicron variant so far.
Though the state government has not declared any data on the number of infected students so far, a rough estimate suggests that over 200 have contracted COVID-19 in the last few months, said Bhaskar Patel, the president of the Gujarat State School Administrators' Federation. In a letter to the Chief Minister, the federation expressed concern about the sudden rise in Coronavirus cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant in Gujarat in the last few days.
Following a significant fall in new infections, the Gujarat government had first allowed the physical reopening of higher secondary and secondary schools from July and later gave a go-ahead to in-person lessons for Classes 6 to 8. From November-end, primary schools comprising students from Classes 1 to 5 also resumed imparting lessons from their premises.
"Though both online and offline modes are available at present, only 10 per cent of school students are taking advantage of online education, as 90 per cent are coming to schools. With cases of COVID-19 and its new variant Omicron rising, school students are also getting infected," the letter stated. The Federation also drew the Chief Minister's attention to incidents of teaching and non-teaching staff of some schools also getting infected.
"We urge the government to monitor the situation for one week and consider stopping offline education for Classes 1 to 5 from January 10. If the situation gets worse, a similar decision should be taken for Classes 6 to 11 in subsequent weeks. This will help us in fighting the possible third wave of the pandemic," the Federation stated in the letter.
As only students in the age group of 15 to 18 are eligible for a COVID vaccine, children under the age of 15 are more vulnerable to contracting the virus if they keep visiting the school, Patel said. It is noteworthy that the scientific community has time and again said that even though children can contract the virus, they are much more capable of dealing with it than adults.