Letter written to chief ministers of Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka proposes setting up of task force to plan for reopening schools
Professors at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, doctors and economists have together written an open letter to the chief ministers of Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka, proposing a task force to explore possibilities in the reopening of schools for physical classes in the near future.
“In terms of the way forward, consider setting up a task force with experts on an urgent basis to plan for opening of schools in your state, partially now, and fully in the near future,” said the letter, suggesting that schools be upgraded for a hybrid model of infrastructure.
Begin with small groups of students to attend schools once or twice a week, the letter added.
As many as 50 doctors, physicians, public health specialists, lawyers, IITians and economists backed up the letter with evidence on why schools should be reopening. The open letter was also approved by economists Jean Dreze, Reetika Khera, epidemiologist Chandrakant Lahariya, Telugu filmmaker Gautam Menon and IIT-B professor Bhaskaran Raman.
The letter noted the costs of school closure for the last 16 months in terms of learning and development losses. They indicated the possibilities of reopening schools following safety measures.
It has also referred to the United Nations’ (UN) call to reopen schools. Schools should be the last to close and the first to open, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had said earlier.
The letter said COVID-19 is here to stay and a ‘zero case’ scenario is unlikely in the near future. Vaccinating children cannot be the prerequisite for reopening of schools and the approach should now be taken towards addressing risks and following appropriate mitigating measures, it added.
Referring to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the letter recommended that all state authorities should reopen pre-primary and primary sections before secondary schools.
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