‘Kids Handle Infection Better,’ Says ICMR Chief Gives Nod to Reopening Primary Schools



The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief has given a nod to the reopening of schools. As opposed to the current practice where senior classes from 9-12 are invited to school first, ICMR DG Dr. Balram Bhargava said that the primary Schools from classes 1 to 5 should be opened first. He said younger children have “much better ability to handle the virus than adults”.

Dr. Bhargava, however, said that before reopening schools, the authorities need to ensure that all staff and teachers must be vaccinated. “Children can handle viral infection better, they have less number of receptors. So once the decision is taken and all the staff vaccinated it would be good to open primary schools first,” said Dr. Bhargava.

As per the latest Sero survey, as many as 67.6 per cent of India’s population above six years were found to have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

Earlier, AIIMS director, Dr. Randeep Guleria said, “I am a proponent of opening up schools in a staggered way for districts that are seeing less virus circulation. It (reopening of schools) can be planned for places having positivity rates below 5 per cent.” He added that “keeping schools shut performwn can affect children adversely.”

The situation is worse for those belonging to economically backward families or residing in areas with low network connectivity. These students have been facing issues in attending schools even as online classes are going on. Reports suggest it might take up to three years for students to fill the learning gap faced by school closure.

India has seen one of the biggest school closures in the world. Schools have been shut since mid-March 2020. While staggered reopening took place for senior classes, younger kids are yet to visit campuses. Many parents and psychologists have observed behavioral changes in students. Currently, India performes not have the policy to vaccinate its population younger than 18 years. Many parents believe that reopening schools later getting a significant number of children vaccinated will help in reducing anxiety among the kids and are demanding a vaccination for children as well.

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