Karnataka: Government must rethink policy of closing schools, say experts | Hubballi News – Times of India

BELAGAVI: Current rule of closing a school for at least two days if a staffer or student tests positive for Covid-19 could adversely affect attendance and it comes at a time when an increasing number of parents are willing to send children to school, say experts.
Following reports of sporadic infections on campuses, schools have been ordered shut for a minimum 48 hours to ensure the premises are sanitised. Till Wednesday, about 20 schools across the state were ordered closed after more than 50 teachers tested positive. Some students too reportedly contracted the disease.
Although the government has not released comprehensive data on the positivity rate among teachers, statistics from some districts suggest it is minuscule.
For instance in Yadgir district, a meagre 0.3% of teachers tested positive and in Koppal, only 1 teacher was infected out of 3,000 who took RT-PCR tests. In Kalaburagi, four of 3,500 teachers tested positive. Belagavi has the highest number of infections at 22 – from among more than 2,000 teachers.
Moreover, as a security measure, teachers in Kalyana Karnataka region, whose Covid test results are still awaited have been asked to stay at home.
Nalini Atul, additional commissioner, department of public instruction, Kalaburagi, said, at last count, the division registered 31% attendance. This includes those attending Vidyagama and SSLC classes. He said the number of pupils is slowly increasing. “Compared to Saturday, attendance increased on Wednesday,” he said.
Gajanana Mannikeri, Chikkodi DDPI, said when a school is closed, dispelling fears of parents and getting them to send their children to school is a challenging task. He said teachers and cluster resource persons are working on the ground to fight panic.
Mannikeri said Vidyagama attendance was between 60% and 70% before it was suspended, but now it is 45%. “Earlier, teachers were going to tenements, but now kids come to school. However, I’m positive things will improve,” he said.
VP Niranjanaradhya, education expert, said closing schools is “the height of foolishness” and wondered why other establishments are allowed to function despite infections on their premises.
He believes closing schools will ignite unfounded fears which have been on the wane and the state must rethink this policy. “Closing down a school gives the impression that the school is the source of the virus, but it is not,” he said.
Mohiddin Kutti, state SDMC president, said attendance is falling in some schools. He urged the state to scrap the rule and to encourage more children to come to schools.

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Sagar Biswas

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