The rise in Covid cases in Delhi has brought back concerns about school going children, prompting the institutions to come up with online classes and recorded lectures for those not well as health experts are against school closures. The health experts are of the view that there is a need to reinforce Covid-appropriate behaviour, something which the elders and the younger cohort are not adhering to. As a result, school managements are bringing measures such as sending recorded lectures to students who are ill, allowing online classes for those in isolation and putting study tours on hold.
“We are all aware that COVID-19 is not over yet. We have instituted a proper mechanism of checks to ensure that a student’s health is not negated and undermined. Unwell students are isolated and dropped off at their homes so that they can have proper rest and others can study without apprehensions or worries,” said Anshu Mital, principal of MRG School, Rohini. “We also send recorded lectures to unwell students so that they do not lag behind in studies. Students are receiving proper training to give priority to hygiene and sanitisation through health-centric workshops organised for them. Proper social-distancing is being followed as usual,” she added.
Shubhi Soni, head of The Shri Ram Wonder Years in Rohini, said although the sudden uptick in COVID-19 cases is alarming, shutting down schools is not an option as students are habituated to planned routines and study timelines which must not be disrupted as it can impede their revived academic progress after the lockdown. “The health of students should also not be compromised, which is why we are taking necessary precautions of temperature checks and isolation measures for students who are ill. We are also sending worksheets to them so that they do not miss out on studies and can comfortably learn from their homes as well. “School trips have been put on hold for a while. Outside food is not allowed, and we are facilitating hygienic meals for students. Students are encouraged to bring home-cooked food and abstain from sharing meals with peers,” she said.
Delhi reported 1,372 more Covid infections and six deaths as the case positivity rate rose to 17.85 percent, the highest since January 21, according to health department data. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said Covid cases are on the rise in Delhi but there was no need to panic as most new cases were mild in nature and the city government was keeping a close watch on the situation. According to Dr Anil Sachdev, director of the Paediatrics Intensive Care at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, children are at an increased risk due to the coronavirus and seasonal illnesses. “However, we have seen that children have had mild Covid symptoms. Only two children in the last one month were serious but they had comorbidities. One child had Down syndrome and the other had some comorbidities but those children have recovered. Schools should not be closed but there is a need to reinforce Covid-appropriate behaviour, something which the elders and the younger cohort is not adhering to,” he said.
Dr Krishan Chugh, director and HOD of Paediatrics, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, said once a child goes to school while infected but not diagnosed and isolated, they can become a source of infection for classmates and friends.”Though not common in children, they are not immune to this dreaded disease. In the initial period of the epidemic, they are more likely to pick up the infection from adult close contacts. “At present there is no need to close the schools but parents and the public should be educated regarding the symptoms and preventive measures of monkey pox,” he said. Schools reopened in completely offline mode from April after prolonged closure of nearly two years in view of the pandemic. Experts have been warning against any further closure of school, citing irreparable learning loss.
Dr Sameer Punia, consultant of Paediatrics and Neonatology at Aakash Healthcare, said his hospital is seeing a lot of patients with symptoms of Covid such as fever, cough, runny nose, and body pain in OPD. “There are other viral infections that are also coming up like enterovirus, adenovirus, and rhinoviruses. Yes, there are 4-5 cases related to Covid in children out of 20. Basically, the age groups are not defined. All babies and even adults are tested positive for Covid, any member of the family can get infected. The age group which is basically having all those flu-like symptoms are those who are going to school and work. We need to take precautions as we did earlier– maintaining good hygiene and using masks which we are compromising recently,” he added.