It’s safe to send children to school now, Karnataka doctors allay parents’ fears | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Ever since the state government allowed schools to reopen for classes 1 to 5 from October 25, paediatricians have been flooded with safety queries from parents who are apprehensive about sending their children to school. Doctors are counselling parents saying there is no cause to worry.
“Although children are being taken to other places, many parents are worried about sending their wards to school. Fear of the virus is still a reality,” paediatricians told TOI. “We explain about the loss of learning in children and how online learning is not a permanent solution.”
Dr Preeti M Galagali, India Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) executive committee chairperson, Karnataka, said 75% of the parents who consult her have concerns about sending their children to school.
“I have created a broadcast group to spread awareness among parents to send children to school,” said Dr Galagali. “I haven’t come across even one child with symptoms of cold or cough after schools reopened for the older children. The ones seeking consultation for respiratory infections are smaller children for whom schools are yet open.”
Dr Galagali said she advises parents to visit schools and see for themselves precautions that are being taken on the campus. “Children know that they should wear masks and schools are careful about following Covidappropriate behaviour [CAB] as they are equally concerned,” said Dr Galagali.
Dr MK Sudarshan, chairperson, technical advisory committee (TAC), said the state government has considered all aspects before deciding to allow schools to reopen. Parental consent is necessary to attend regular classes.
“Children are routinely tested for Covid. At present, the positivity rate among school children is just 0.1%,” said Dr Sudarshan. TAC has mandated that 10% of all tests in the state every day must be among children below the age of 18 years.
Dr Jagadish Chinnappa, Bengaluru-based paediatrician and member of the state’s High Level Expert Committee for Prevention and Management of Covid Wave-3, said the number of Covid cases is very low at the moment. He said most of the adult population has either taken the vaccine or got Covid.
“The likelihood of transmission among adults is low,” Dr Chinnappa said. “The concern is child-to-child transmission, but going by studies in the West, those chances too are extremely low. Even if children get infected, 95% of them will have no major symptoms other than mild cold and cough. So, the advice is to encourage sending children to school.”
Dr Chinnappa said physical distance should be maintained in schools as much as possible and as many activities as possible should be conducted in open air. “Frequent tests must be done to ensure cases do not go undetected. Random tests can be conducted,” he said.
Dr Supraja Chandrashekar, paediatric intensivist, Columbia Asia hospital, Yeshwantpur, categorically said there should be no reservation in sending children above the age of five to school.
She said it has taken almost a year to understand the benefits of CAB. In fact, she said, it should be ‘respiratory appropriate behaviour’ since it protects people from all respiratory infections.
“We should be reassured of the benefits of following CAB. The viral infection spreads from touching the face and from eating food near each other. Many schools have allowed children to eat at home. Schools must ensure that there is a two-foot gap if children are eating in schools and it should be an open, well-ventilated area,” Dr Chandrashekar said. She said if schools and children maintain these safety norms, children will be safe.
However, Dr Chandrashekar said she has reservations over opening preschools as respiratory infections among smaller kids is high. However, the government has not taken any decision yet on opening preschools.
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Sagar Biswas

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