Sunday, Mar 26, 2023

Should Govt Reopen Schools Amid Omicron Scare? Here's What 10 Parents Say

Should Govt Reopen Schools Amid Omicron Scare? Here's What 10 Parents Say

Citing multiple examples of how children are already exposed to the virus to substantiate their claim, these parents showed their concurrence with the decision of reopening of schools amid Omicron scare as children are less susceptible to the disease.

Representational Image PTI

Despite an increase in the number of Omicron cases in India, many noted scientists are of the view that schools should be reopened for the junior classes and remain open and running for senior classes.

They believe that Omicron is causing very mild symptoms. “Children have a robust immune system and with proper exercise and physical activity, their immune system will become much more robust,” Prof RM. Pitchappan, a noted immunologist and presently an honorary visiting professor of Biology in Madurai Kamaraj University said.

“They will not catch an infection that easily, and even if they do, it will not cause any harm as their immune system is already very strong,” he added.

While many parents are still highly apprehensive in sending their kids to school, here’re ten parents who are in conformity with these scientists and they believe that it’s time science and available evidence should take over the emotional feelings.

Bhaskaran Raman, Professor, IIT Bombay (Children in classes 3 and 9)

"It is absurd to think that kids have not been exposed to the virus, especially when everything is open for adults. Indeed, serosurveys show that kids have been exposed similar to adults. Further, Covid risk for kids is several times less than even the risk of traffic accidents. Do we close schools or keep kids at home always since there is a risk of a traffic accident? Surely not! So school closure is all harm and no benefit."

Tanya Aggarwal, Lawyer, Delhi (Child in class 1)

 "It’s a question of priorities. It’s clear that India does not see education as essential. Authorities have prioritised everything else -elections, festivals, economic activities- over education. In many parts of the world, schools have remained open for large parts of the pandemic. India now ranks second behind Uganda in longest school closures - trailing by only one week. India is the exception, not the norm."

Sarayu Natarajan, Founder, Aapti Institute in Bangalore, (Child in class 2)

 "While there’s data that shows schools aren’t sites for the spread of covid, they remain shut. But weddings, restaurants, gatherings - known sites for spread - are on, and children can go. This would be funny if it weren’t so harmful to the mental and physical well-being of our children."

 Dr Firuzi Mehta, Homeopathic Physician in Mumbai (Children in classes 8 and 3)

 "Experience over the past 22 months has shown that the risk of severe covid in children is minuscule and a majority of kids have already been exposed and have natural immunity. On the other hand, the potential risks of the vaccine remain unknown since no long-term studies have been done. In my clinical practice, with adults, I have seen several deaths, plenty of new health issues and severe flare-ups of existing issues soon after vaccination, most of which are not being officially registered as adverse events. How can we ever take such a risk with children, who have their entire lives ahead of them because we cannot easily undo vaccine damage? Hence, the risk-benefit ratio does not warrant universal vaccination for children. Ideally, schools should be open now, because evidence shows that there is no scientific reason to keep them shut."

 Dr. Sarbani Banerjee, Senior Project Scientist, IIT Bombay, Powai, (Children in classes  8 and 10)

 "When Covid was on its peak, countries such as the UK had kept their schools open kids as these countries know that kids need to interact much with peers: for all social/economic strata, this interaction is important for their emotional and social development. Further, as a "right", India included RTE after a tough battle by various activists. If education is a right, if it is an essential service, schools should never be shut. It is just evil and barbarous for one small decision-making body to choose or decide the fate for the entire society's schools. Parents are wise enough and well-wishers enough to decide to send their kids to school: please stop imposing school-curfew on all of us."

 Nisha Koiri, Naturopath, Mumbai, (Child in class 9)

 "I am more than happy sending my 9th standard daughter to physical school because online schooling is definitely not meant for children. We are social a social beings and we require human to human interaction to learn and prosper. School is just not meant for studies only but it is also for interaction with other kids which can prepare them for day-to-day living in the outside world. Kids definitely do not get affected by Corona and these clinical trial experimental vaccines and testing are not at all to be used on children. Let them play, study normally and boost immunity naturally as they always do."

 Gauri Kumar, Lawyer, Gurugram, (Child in class 8)

 Education is important. There has been a huge setback for our children at multiple levels, from learning to social and emotional well being. We need to get back on track to give them back their childhood and equal opportunities to chase their dreams. And we have to act fast to open schools ASAP.

Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Associate Professor, Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, TISS Mumbai, (Child in class 7)

Getting access to school and school education is not a privilege, it is a right of every child. That right has been denied to our children for almost two years now. It is outrageous to see where the priorities are when it comes to matters of children and their education. Replacing physical schooling with online does not provide the required support for children for their holistic development. Remember school is an important social institution outside the family where they learn the skills to be independent. The cost of this denial is not addressed, while only emphasising on the cost of infection."

 Gayatri Sabharwal, Businesswoman in South Mumbai, (Children in KG class and class 1)

 “Schools must open and stay open as we have lost too much time for kids for the last 6 months when kids could have been going to school. The Paediatric task force asserted in July 2021 and then on Sept 21 that children must get back to school as they are naturally immune and need to go to school for their mental and social development. Lakhs of the poorer children stopped studying due to lack of access of school and this will set back our country by 10 years or more due to the learning loss of the youngest generations of our country”

Sukriti Goyal, Co-Founder in AvidInvent in Hyderabad, (5-year-old child in KG class)

 "Schools provide an environment that is indispensable for promoting social interaction, learning together and from each other while inculcating self-belief in a child and channelizing their energy constructively. Remote education for children, especially young children, cannot even come close to the educational experience attained by being at school. I have observed a stark difference between the two modes in the last few days as my daughter attended regular school. It improved speech, skills and mental state.”