While several states have begun unlocking their respective regions keeping in view the improving COVID-19 situation in the country, concerns around the reopening of schools are galore. With the prediction of a third wave and reporting of the new 'Delta Plus' variant, parents, students and experts are perplexed if schools should reopen now.
'76% PARENTS NOT READY'
According to a survey by Local Circles, a total of 76 per cent parents are not ready to send their children to schools till cases in the district go down to zero or children get vaccinated. It said that the percentage of parents who will send their children to school has reduced from 69 per cent to 20 per cent in four months.
Medical experts are of the view that the resumption of school may lead to an increase in the number of cases, particularly amid an imminent threat of the third wave which is expected to hit India in less than two months.
'MORE CHILDREN INFECTED IN SECOND WAVE THAN FIRST'
The survey said that there was evidence to show that more children were affected in the second wave than the first. As many as 8,000 kids tested positive in May along in a district in Maharashtra, it said.
Recently, Meghalaya reported 5,000 Covid cases in the age group 0-14. In the first wave, 4 per cent of the infected population were children. This share has increased to about 10 per cent - 20 per cent in the second wave. So far, the mortality rate in children is low.
'TAKE DECISION VERY CAUTIOUSLY'
Meanwhile, the government has also advised that the decision to reopen schools should be taken "very cautiously".
"The decision (to reopen schools) has to be taken cautiously. We should take risks only when were are protected. Schools are places of large gatherings, which give the virus the opportunity to infect. So we should take that risk only when we are better protected, when the virus is suppressed and we are able to sit at a distance. It is not easy to take this decision to reopen schools when an unpredictable situation is prevailing in the society."
'VACCINES IN PROGRESS'
The concerns surrounding children also remain high as there is no vaccine for them. Serum Institute of India is planning to start the trials of Novavax on children in July.
Bharat Biotech has two vaccines that are being tried on children, Covaxin and BBV154, a one-shot nasal vaccine. ZyCov-D, the Zydus' Covid-19 vaccine has also started trials on children in the age group 12-18 years. The Government of India is considering providing legal indemnity to Pfizer and Moderna to roll out their vaccines in India. Pfizer has announced that its vaccine is safe for children above 12 years of age.