Published: 28th January 2021
Academic experts seek complete reopening of schools as many can't access online lessons
The experts pointed out that classes 10 and 12 have been fully open for a month and there have been no spike in COVID cases as authorities were following strict hygiene measures
Even as the education department's decision on reopening of Classes 8, 9 and 11 is awaited, a spectrum of experts from different walks have written an open letter, seeking complete opening up of schools, following demands from parents and students. For most of the students (80%+), online education is simply not possible. Hence, the long gap when schools were closed has seriously affected their education, said the collective which includes B Sripada Bhat, Samana Shikshanakkagi Janandolan; Dr Sylvia Karpagam, public health doctor and researcher; B T Venkatesh, renowned human rights activist, Reach Law; Niranjanaradhya VP, senior fellow, Centre for Child and the Law, NLSIU; Rishikesh and Amman Madan from Azim Premji University, among others.
They pointed out that Classes 10 and 12 have been fully open for a month, teachers and students have largely observed hygiene requirements -- distancing, masks and hand washing, and no spike in Covid cases has been reported during this period across the state. With cases and deaths on the decline, and vaccination having commenced across the state, beginning with frontline workers, they believed the time is viable for reopening school campuses. "Distancing and other hygiene stipulations should continue. All students from Class 1 to 10 should be able to come to school. It is already known that younger children are less vulnerable to the virus. Already, too much time is lost to complete the syllabus," they said.
Health Minister K Sudhakar and Education Minister S Suresh Kumar were scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss reopening of schools, however, the meeting was rescheduled for Thursday, as per an official. The dangers of closing school for months are many and bound to affect students -- loss of learning due to gaps, malnutrition aggravated by lack of legally mandated hot cooked meals, and a spike in school dropouts, said the collective, pointing out that keeping children out of school will further worsen inequities. Besides hot meals in schools (to support health and nutrition), they demanded that teachers, who are essential frontline workers too, become a priority for vaccination, especially those above 50 years of age.