Reopening schools carries ‘health risk’; Parents understandably wary

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Schools and colleges which have been shut for over two months now will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories in the second phase of the exit from the lockdown in July under the Union home ministry’s Unlock 1 announcement on Saturday.

Reopening schools carries the public health risk of viral resurgence. Parents and teachers are understandably wary. How can education systems respond?

“I won’t be sending my children off no matter what”, wrote one.

“No way we go back to a regular classroom without a vaccine”

“I think a lot of parents are thinking, Why should my little child go outside first” said another.

Public health experts predict that a vaccine to stop the novel coronavirus will take about a year to 18 months to arrive—which means it’s unlikely that most of us will receive it before next summer.

For some parents of means, the prospect of sending kids back to school or boarding school almost certainly will be too scary, so they will choose to delay. And that choice will have serious downstream consequences. However, Children’s risk of contracting COVID-19 appears to be lower than that of adults.

Children’s role in transmitting the novel coronavirus is still unclear, making it difficult to estimate the extent to which reopening schools might contribute to resurgence.

Potentially relaxed confinement measures outside the education sector add to the uncertainty. Decision makers will therefore need to determine when to reopen schools in the context of reopening society at large.

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