Soon after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG Dr Balram Bhargava suggested the reopening of schools and said 'it’ll be wise to open primary schools first before opening secondary schools,” speculations are rife whether the Odisha government will think over the suggestion.
As per the fourth round of the sero-survey, children can handle viral infections better than adults. While those between 6 and 9 years of age showed a 57.2 per cent sero-prevalence, it was found 61.6 per cent among those between 10 and 17 years.
The Director of Directorate of Medical Education and Training (DMET) Dr CBK Mohanty welcomed the suggestion of the ICMR and said if the Centre chalks out a set of guidelines based on the survey, the State will follow and can act accordingly.
"The Home Ministry is yet to come up with the guidelines. They have just made a suggestion. We have no problems in following the guidelines of the Centre over the same," said Mohanty.
However, paediatricians are of the view that the schools shouldn't open now and there is a need to wait for a few more months.
"We should wait for 2-4 months to know the intensity of the possible third wave and the vaccines to come. It will be pre-mature to open schools now," said Dr Sunil Agarwal, a paediatrician.
The ICMR has also said that all schools staff, whether teachers, school bus drivers or other staff members, need to be fully vaccinated before the reopening of the institution/s. However, the Odisha government doesn't seem to be fully prepared for it.
On the other hand, some parents are not interested in sending their wards as vaccination of the entire staff of schools are yet to be done.
"We are definitely in a state of fear, but if all the teachers and staff are fully vaccinated and there will be regular sanitisation, we would have no problem in sending our kids to schools," said Pallavi Kar, a parent.
However, some students feel that classroom teachings should start soon. "Online teaching is not that fruitful and it would be better to have classes offline in schools," said Parthsarathy Behera, a student from Sundergarh.