Published: 06th July 2022
Has immunity of students taken a beating after staying home for two years due to COVID? Experts weigh in
The State school education department has issued circular directing schools to follow strict safety measures as there is a risk of students getting infected
After the reopening of schools a month ago, the number of children falling sick seems to be on the rise. TNIE checked multiple schools in Chennai on Tuesday, July 5, and found that at least three to four kids were sick in each classroom, particularly in Classes I to V.
While there is a modicum of compliance in wearing of masks in schools, social distancing is seldom followed. School authorities cite lack of space in institutions as the reason.
"With COVID cases on the rise, parents and teachers are worried. Health experts told us it is mostly seasonal flu because of rains. But the health department could organise special fever camps outside schools where the incidence of fever is high. They did a similar drive for fever cases in residential complexes earlier," said P Patrick Raymond, General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Graduate Teachers Federation.
Some experts recommended staggered break timings in schools.
"It is impossible to stop kids from sharing their food or interacting with one other during lunch breaks. Also, it has been a few years since students came to school and their excitement to be together is understandable. So, there can be different break timings for each class," said K Priyanka, an education rights activist.
According to health experts, children develop immunity to various viruses and bacteria by regular exposure to a small inoculum of microorganisms at their schools and through their playmates. But their immunity has taken a toll now as most of the children had to stay at home for at least two years.
"Balanced diet and enough hydration hold the key to addressing the current situation. While getting infected with viruses and bacteria impacts a child's immunity, not getting infected at all for a long time may have consequences too. However, parents need not be worried about COVID as it is not very virulent among children," said Dr Kamala Nathan, a consultant paediatrician.
Meanwhile, the State school education department has issued circular directing schools to follow strict safety measures as there is a risk of students getting infected. Schools have been instructed to check the temperature of students and staff using thermal scanners before allowing them inside the campus. Everyone has to wear masks and the headmistress/principal must ensure soap or hand wash is provided to help students wash their hands frequently.