Karnataka School News: Ceremonial welcome in schools worries experts | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Schools welcoming children with sweets and flowers when primary sections reopened after a break of 18 months may be heart-warming, but it has raised the hackles of experts who feel social distancing was the casualty. Lack of social distancing during the lunch break is another concern, they said.
Any sort of crowding in schools shouldn’t be allowed as it amounts to a violation of Covid-appropriate behaviour (CAB), said Dr CN Manjunath, nodal officer for Covid testing in Karnataka. He said efforts must be made to ensure children learn in school, but they should not be standing in queues or crowding for any reason.
Members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will discuss the issue on Thursday and Dr MK Sudarshan, chairperson, suggested staff may have been exuberant. “In their enthusiasm to welcome children in schools after 18 months of closure, there may have been emotional reactions and staff may have skipped safety protocol,” he said. “In the current scenario it may not pose a threat since cases are low, but there cannot be a repeat. Such crowding is unwelcome.”
He said Covid is not a major threat for children since they will not be severely affected. Incidentally, the TAC had suggested that the government reopen primary sections first, ahead of the higher grades.
“During lunch, children must not sit side by side. There should three feet between each of them. For this, orientation must be given to teachers,” Dr Sudarshan says.
Dr V Ravi, virologist and TAC member, said CAB cannot be compromised. “Physical distancing must be maintained and enforced,” Dr Ravi said. “Schools were permitted to reopen only on that condition. It is not right if protocols are violated.”
When contacted, R Vishal, commissioner, department of public instructions, said it is very difficult to keep children away from one another, especially in government schools. He said he expected things to settle in 3-4 weeks.
“Teachers repeatedly advise students to maintain physical distance, but it will take time for children to acclimatise to the new norms,” Vishal said. “I understand the concerns. If teachers become very strict, children may stop coming to school. It has already been a challenge to get children to school, especially in the lower classes as they got used to being at home.”
He also said it has not been easy to make children sit in an open area during the lunch hour. “Midday meals are better done in corridors than on an open ground as it can be dirty. The time taken for midday meals can be increased by doing it session wise. All these solutions can be looked into locally,” he said.
He pointed out that infections among children in higher grades have not increased, although they have been open for some time now. He also frowned on the stand of some parents who think online classes are sufficient.
“Children can’t learn all skills online,” he said. “We must motivate parents and children to gradually move from online to only regular classes. I am not convinced with hybrid models either.”
Dr Supraja Chandrashekar, a Bengaluru-based paediatric intensivist, said on-campus classes should be normalized and students should be reassured that they are safe.
“Covid is here to stay so norms must be followed. Children are protected as more than 90% of them will not have major symptoms. However, crowding in closed spaces must be avoided. Children must be made to feel comfortable in schools,” she said.
12 more positive in Kodagu school
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The cluster outbreak at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya school in Kodagu worsened, with 12 more students testing positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, taking the total infected to 33. The outbreak was detected when some students developed fever. The school management quickly arranged for all 270 students to undergo Covid tests and the results were out on Wednesday





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Sagar Biswas

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