As schools throughout the country prepare to reopen, World Health Organisation (WHO) head scientist Soumya Swaminathan released a few recommendations to avoid a “long-time impact on children’s mental, physical and cognitive wellbeing”.
The chief scientist urged on Twitter that distance, masking, avoiding interior singing and gatherings, hand cleanliness, and immunisation of all adults be prioritised during school openings.
Vaccinating teachers, Swaminathan previously told, would be a “big step” in protecting children until vaccines for them become available. She argued that more adults, particularly teachers, should be vaccinated, and that schools should only reopen when the risk of community transmission is low.
“I am very hopeful that ultimately we’ll have vaccine for children. But that’s not going to happen this year, and we should open schools when community transmission is down. That’s what rest of the countries have done, with other precautions. And if teachers are vaccinated, that would be a big step forward,” WHO’s top scientist had told in an interview.
The crucial ‘next steps’ come only two days after the Centre informed Parliament that eight states and Union Territories (UTs) have either reopened schools or are considering doing so.
Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Nagaland, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh have reopened schools as of August 2, according to a written reply submitted in the Lok Sabha by Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan. By the 16th of August, Andhra Pradesh is expected to reopen its schools.
Only Lakshwadeep and Puducherry have reopened to all classes among the Union Territories. The rest have only authorised lessons for students in grades 9 and up. As of August 2, Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal are among the states and union territories that have yet to reopen schools.