Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Even as the Union government is likely to issue an advisory soon for resumption of offline classes in schools across the country in compliance with Covid-19 guidelines, health experts and educationists in Odisha are not in favour of the move.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has asked the National Expert Group to suggest ways on reopening the schools nationwide and work on the modalities.

Covid-19 has affected children of all age groups. However, the mortality rate and severity of disease in children are negligible. Most of the parents believe that it is high time children return to school.

As per reports, the Centre wants to reopen schools in a staggered manner after the Covid vaccination drive was opened up for children aged 15-17 amid the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant. However, it will be up to states to decide whether they are ready to open schools or not.

However, many health experts in Odisha feel that the time has not come yet for the reopening of schools in State.

“The rate of infection in Odisha has not come down yet. The Omicron variant is highly contagious and the rate of infection can rise anytime. Considering the current situation in the State, we have to take steps accordingly. I don’t think the time has come yet for reopening of schools in Odisha,” said Public Health Director Niranjan Mishra.

Meanwhile, most of the parents have welcomed the Centre’s move for reopening of schools.

“Schools have been closed in Odisha since the last two years and students are staring at an uncertain future. When all the festivals are being celebrated and elections are conducted in the State, what’s wrong with reopening the schools in strict adherence with Covid-19 guidelines?” asked Jagdish Kumar Singh.

“Online teaching could never substitute classroom teaching,” he added.

On the other hand, health expert Sunil Agarwal feels that the State government shouldn’t be in a hurry to take any decision about reopening schools.

“The rate of infection is still not in control in the State. We should wait for a few more days till it subsides before taking any decision about the reopening of schools. We can’t take risks on the lives of children,” said Agarwal.

Throwing his weight behind Agarwal, educationist Satyakam Mishra said, “I don’t think Covid-19 situation has improved that much in the State. We should wait for a few more days until things are in control.”

(Edited by Ramakant Biswas)