Are schools and colleges likely to open in August?

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In reaction to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, 107 countries had carried out national school closures from mid-March. School closures were deployed rapidly across India as the cases rose and along with other educational institutions are continuing to be closed.

Union Health Resource Development Minister, Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal announced in an interview about the re-opening of schools and colleges after the 15th of August.

‘UNESCO representative has said earlier, that the guidelines aim to inform the decision-making process regarding school re-opening, support national preparations and guide the implementation process, as part of overall public health and education planning processes.’

According to the UNESCO report, more than 157 crore students across 191 countries are severely impacted by the closure of educational institutions due to coronavirus.

The report stated that – ‘Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. These nationwide closures are impacting over 91 percent of the world’s student population.’

More than 32 crore students have been affected by the several restrictions and the nationwide lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 March in India. Although several dates have been released earlier for the re-opening of educational institutions were dissolved due to the vast number of cases.

Recently, the U.P board has announced the results of Classes 10th and 12th while the students of ISCE and CBSE are looking forward to dates to complete their board exams.

Implementing various strategies to prepare for when someone gets sick at the institution

Advise Staff and Families of Sick Students of Home Isolation Criteria – Sick staff members or students should stay at home until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.

Isolate and Transport Those Who are Sick – Institutions to make sure that, if the staff or their families become sick with COVID-symptoms, member (staff), they should not come to school and should notify school officials (e.g., the designated COVID-19 point of contact).

  • If a student tests positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case should also not come in contact with any other person at school.
  • Immediately separate staff and children with COVID-19 symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath) at school.
  • Individuals who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility depending on how severe their symptoms are, and follow CDC guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick.
  • Working with school administrators, nurses, and other healthcare providers to identify an isolation room or area to separate anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive but does not have symptoms.
  • School nurses and other healthcare providers should use Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions when caring for sick people.
  • Establish procedures for safely transporting anyone who is sick to their home or to a healthcare facility.
  • If, calling an ambulance or bringing someone to the hospital, a call should be made first to alert that the person may have COVID-19.
  • Until after cleaning and disinfecting, close off areas used by a sick person.
  • Waiting for at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, waiting should be done as long as possible.
  • Ensuring safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products external icon, including storing products securely away from children.
  • In accordance with state and local laws and regulations, school administrators should notify local health officials, staff, and families immediately of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality.
  • Inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms.

Principles released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that are to keep in mind are as follows –

  • Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.
  • More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix.
  • Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures, or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
  • Highest Risk: Full-sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.

What are the health implications regarding?

Although the guiding principle was released by the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention but they have also provided some health implications which can be caused due to the re-opening of educational institutions:

  • Use of shared objects (e.g., gym or physical education equipment, art supplies, toys, games) cause direct contact and virus can be transmitted from one to another.
  • Transport vehicles (e.g., buses) that carry the children or students to schools can also become the reason for the easy transmission of the virus.
  • The staff that is arriving at school being transmitted virus unknowingly from a family member, neighbour or relative who was carrying the Coronavirus can spread and transmit the virus to several others who act as a host for further people.

Shared objects or items are also a concern and can cause virus transmission as they are difficult to clean or disinfect.

With numerous amount of students, social distancing become hard to practice. Even if there is a single CoVid19 infected person it could become hazardous for the rest of the people.

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