Amid demand for reopening schools, NITI Aayog member Dr Vinod Kumar Paul said that the decision on reopening of educational institutes, especially schools should be taken “cautiously".
“The decision (to reopen schools) has to be taken cautiously. We should take risks only when we are protected. Schools are places of large gatherings, which give the virus the opportunity to infect," he was quoted as saying by IANS.
While addressing the Union Health Ministry’s media briefing on Covid-19, Paul reportedly said “It is not easy to take this decision to reopen schools when an unpredictable situation is prevailing in the society."
This statement came after many states were planning to reopen schools. Schools have been shut since mid-March 2020 and classes are being held digitally. While many demand that students are facing academic loss due to the online classes, Paul said if the restrictions are eased and schools are reopened, students have a risk of getting infected.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has said it will reopen schools only after the students get vaccinated. A 13-member expert committee, headed by Dr Devi Shetty has advised the Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa to open schools and colleges in the state, however, the minister has declined to take any decision regarding the opening of schools.
He had also said that colleges will be opened later in a phased manner, only after students and teachers are vaccinated. “The government is considering opening higher educational institutions in a phased manner after vaccinating students and teachers,” the Chief Minister had said.
Apart from Karnataka, most of the states have shut down all educational institutions including schools and colleges. This includes schools in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab Odisha, Delhi, Haryana and Gujarat. The schools are closed for an indefinite time period due to the coronavirus-related restrictions placed in the states. Many states declared an early summer vacation this year since May while some have opted to go for online classes so as no interruption is caused in the education of students.