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‘Decentralize decision to reopen schools at local level’, Health News, ET HealthWorld

‘Decentralize decision to reopen schools at local level’, Health News, ET HealthWorld

‘Decentralize decision to reopen schools at local level’Kochi: The decision on school reopening should be decentralized and taken at the local level (districts or taluk/city/village/school) as per the prevailing pandemic situation there rather than at the national or state level, said Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), the largest association of paediatrics.

IAP said that they would not recommend the seropositivity of the population as an epidemiological indicator for school reopening as it is unreliable. They also said that educational void is increasing, and students, parents and the teaching community are eagerly awaiting reopening of schools.

IAP, which published guidelines and recommendations on ‘School Reopening, Remote Learning, and Curriculum during and after Covid-19 Pandemic’ in 2020, has constituted a ‘Task Force on School Reopening 2021’ to review and update its earlier recommendations to suit the present Covid scenario in the country. The 12-member task force has prepared an advisory that proposes a slew of recommendations to be considered while school reopening.

“Children have been homebound for more than 17 months now. Consequently, they are displaying significant physical and psychosocial health issues. Studies have shown that schools do not act as significant sources of viral transmission. However, the horrific experiences during the second wave are unforgettable and act as a big barrier to any attempts to bring the children back to school. Government authorities, school administrators, and parents appear to be in dilemma and confusion. The decision for school reopening, therefore, needs to be taken vigilantly with a scientific temper,” said the advisory.

Besides decentralized decision-making, IAP said that strict compliance to Covid-appropriate behavior (social distancing, masking, sanitization, etc) by everyone in the community should be ensured. Also, local Covid statistics should be vigilantly followed and the decision to keep schools open should be reviewed every 15 days. Schools and governments should facilitate students back to school by arranging transport as before, and not imposing restrictions like RTPCR tests of students.

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