Pandemic and the issue of reopening of schools

How to address the psychological, educational and developmental costs of children missing schools for a long period

<strong>Dr Rani Pathak Das</strong> - Guest Editor
Dr Rani Pathak Das - Guest Editor
Covid-19 is here to stay. Countries are gearing up and reopening many sectors and the most crucial and sensitive sector in this case has been the educational institutions, specially the primary and high schools. Children's health and safety is a key concern for all. During this pandemic time children have been the worst affected sub group of the society even though they are at a lower health risk. Now we must think of the ways how health and education can go together for our children.
There is a difference between the start of the pandemic and now: we now understand Covid-19 better after 18 months of its outbreak. Everyone would agree about the educational, psychological and developmental cost of this prolonged closure of schools being beard by the children.
Opening of schools is never a trivial matter. The prime concern here is the safety of students which has to be considered with utmost priority and confidence needs to be built about the ability to maintain safety protocols at schools. It must be understood by both school authorities and parents/guardians that opening of schools has to be a dynamic process depending on local disease conditions. It can never be like before when everything began and closed at the school itself. Nor it is like once it is open it has to stay open.
Attendance in schools should not be made mandatory for many a months from now. Parents and children can opt for online classes and only those who want can attend schools in person. Majority of the parents feel that children need to be vaccinated before going back to school. However, the role of available vaccines in reducing SARS CoV2 transmission is yet to be proven.
Schools need to be equipped for flexible and quick decision making. Innovative policy-making is needed to enable local action and a shift away from the current centralized one-size-fits-all approach in this regard.
Well, here I must mention about the successful Covid-19 vaccination camps organized by Fit Northeast in different locations of Guwahati city during the recent past. Beneficiaries and stakeholders have expressed their happiness for the efficiency and smooth conduction of the camps.
Let's have a look at what we have for the coming week @ Fit Northeast. Apart from our regular health and wellness news and features, we will continue with expert physician's article on orthodontics, as well as highlight on how school education has been impacted by Covid and lockdowns.
The National Eye Donation Fortnight is observed every year from 25 August to 8 September. It is a campaign which aims to create mass public awareness about the importance of eye donation and to motivate people to pledge their eyes for donation after death. Fit Northeast is also planning to do its bit on this subject. Wish you all a bright and beautiful week.

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