Do not reopen schools in haste, says Guardians’ Association
KATHMANDU: The Chief District Officers of the Kathmandu Valley have decided to reopen schools with physical presence of students from September 17. The schools were closed for the past four-and-a-half months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At a time when the doctors have been warning that the third wave of the pandemic could hit the country any time soon, many people are of the opinion that the Kathmandu District Administration Office should not allow schools to resume before Dashain. However, some say that the schools should not be closed for a long time in the name of a pandemic.
Earlier on September 7, a meeting of the Chief District Officers had decided to allow private and government schools to resume classes in the Kathmandu Valley from September 17 adhering to Covid-19 protocols.
Experts have projected that the third wave of pandemic could peak after October 1 in Nepal as it has already hit the neighbouring country India.
Some have argued that the decision to reopen schools could unknowingly pose a risk to the students at a time when the children have not been vaccinated in the Valley.
The government has still not been preparing to inoculate the children. The Health Ministry said that the people should abide by the health safety protocols as the cases have not declined in Nepal yet.
As per the decision of the Kathmandu District Administration Office, the schools will be reopened only for 22 days before Dashain.
People have been accusing the District Administration Office, Kathmandu of making the decision to reopen schools to fulfill the interest of the private school operators to collect fees for Dashain.
During a meeting held with Chief District Officer of Kathmandu Kali Prasad Parajuli on Tuesday, Guardians’ Association had expressed its dissatisfaction over the decision to reopen schools.
Do not reopen schools in haste: Guardians’ Association
Guardians’ Association Nepal was of the opinion that the District Administration Office’s decision to reopen school before Dashain for only 20 days will pose risk to the children.
Guardians’ Association Nepal Chairperson Suprabhat Bhandari said that the District Administration Office, Kathmandu should not rush to reopen schools at least for a month.
She said that the children will be the most at risk if the third wave of pandemic hit the country. “We will not accept the decision of the administration to reopen the schools at any cost,” she added.
The Association suggested that the schools should be reopened from November 1 by observing the situation. The Association also demanded that the government provide relief to the guardians who cannot afford to pay for internet connection.
“The National Education Board has postponed the exams of grade 12. Now, why is the authority in a rush to reopen the schools,” Bhandari questioned.
Schools should not be reopened without preparations, say experts
Former director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division Dr Baburam Marasini said that the schools should not be reopened from September 17.
He was of the opinion that the authority can reopen the schools in those places where the cases are declining. He said that the schools should be reopened after administering Covid-19 vaccines to the students.
“Schools have to make adequate preparations to prevent the disease from spreading,” Dr Marasini said, adding,” Students should be taught how to wear masks and how to wash hands for at least two days. But, the government is not serious about the same.”
He, however, said that the students have been experiencing physical and mental problems by staying only in homes.
“The foundation of education of the children has been weakened due to the Covid-19. This will have a long term effect on the students,” he said. “But, it is not good to reopen schools without preparations,” Dr Marasini added.
Samir Mani Dixit, a public health specialist, however, said that the schools should be resumed from September 17.
He said that the schools should be reopened as the third wave of pandemic will not severely affect the children below 18 years of age.
“Schools should be resumed gradually. Otherwise, staying only in homes will cause physical as well as mental disorders to the children,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has been saying that it cannot give permission to open or close the schools in the Kathmandu Valley.
Deepak Sharma, spokesperson at the Ministry, said that the local level should take the decision to reopen the schools as per the suggestions of the experts.
Earlier on September 7, a joint meeting of the District Administration Office, District Education Office and Kathmandu Metropolitan City had decided to reopen the schools from September 17.
A meeting of the District Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre (DCCMC) on September 1 had made a decision that the schools can be reopened by taking permission from the administration and following the health safety protocols.
The District Administration Office, Kathmandu said that it had decided to give permission to reopen the schools in the wake of declining new cases of COVID-19 and death rate.
We have not given permission to reopen schools, says Health Ministry
The Health Ministry has said that it has not given permission to reopen schools as the Covid-19 cases have not declined yet.
Dr Krishna Prasad Paudel, spokesperson at the Ministry, said that the schools should not be reopened until the active caseload drops to 10 percent.