By Shambhavi Naik and Nitin Pai
As part of the response to COVID-19 in India, various state governments had closed all schools by mid-March. Maintaining social distancing and hygiene is difficult in schools and hence, schools can easily become a hotspot for the spread of the virus. Further, since this is a novel virus, its impact on children’s health is still being researched and largely unknown. The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) estimates 30-80% of those infected in India to be asymptomatic1 and it is possible that children may also be asymptomatic carriers of the disease. However, keeping schools shut will impact the development of children and take a toll on parents who are working at home and taking care of young children. In this context, various state governments are considering re-starting schools for the new academic year. This document highlights the following recommendations to assist governments in their decision on the re-opening of schools.
- Defer decision to re-start physical school till at least October 2020
- Employ technology for delivery of education – use Television, internet, and phone to reach students
- Allow flexibility in attendance
- Enforce social distancing and hygiene in schools
- Focus on the mental health of students and teachers