Uttarakhand govt to take a call on making COVID testing mandatory in day schools – education
The Uttarakhand government is considering making COVID testing mandatory for students and teachers in those districts where more students or teachers test positive in the coming days. Currently, COVID testing is required for state boarding schools and not for day schools.
The development took place after more than 85 teachers tested positive for Covid-19 in the first week of the school’s reopening in Uttarakhand. This includes 80 teachers from four blocks from the Pauri Garhwal district. Schools where teachers tested positive have been closed for five days. Also on Wednesday, two teachers tested positive in the Kaladhungi area of the Kumaon region. In another incident from the Bageshwar district, a teacher from Government Inter College Kanda tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday night.
R. Meenakshi Sundaram, secretary of the education department, said that until now COVID testing had been made mandatory for internees in the state. “But now I am receiving requests for COVID testing to be mandatory for day schools as well. The thing is, we have about a lakh of students and teachers in the day schools in class 10 and class 12. I am a little concerned about the availability of test kits in the mountain districts. But I have decided to have a conversation with the secretary of the health department and the secretary of disaster management so that COVID tests are mandatory in day schools as well. We will take stock of the situation in the districts in the next few days and we will make decentralized decisions based on the emerging situation in those areas in the coming days, ”he said.
On whether Uttarakhand will be closed for some time if more cases are reported, Sundaram said they will review the situation and make a decision accordingly. “At this time, we have no such plans,” he said.
Schools reopened in Uttarakhand for students in classes 10 and 12 on November 2 after an interval of more than seven months. The decision to open schools as of November 2 was decided during the October 14 cabinet meeting.
Teachers who tested positive have made parents concerned about their children’s safety when going to school.
Arif Khan, president of the National Association for Parent and Student Rights, said the state government should not have opened schools so soon. “Right now the areas are having a resurgence of cases. We had already told the state government that they should not rush to open schools. Now imagine if more than 80 teachers have tested positive, how many students must have come into contact with them. A teacher testing positive is more dangerous because he could be taking more than one class, ”he said.
Khan said that given these cases, the state government should close schools in the state until the situation improves.
On October 24, the government of Uttarakhand published guidelines for schools in the state to follow to control the spread of COVID-19. According to the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the state government, schools will have to follow many conditions including sanitation of school facilities before and after school every day, arrangements will be made in schools for disinfectants, hand washing, thermal detection, first aid, if any student or teacher shows symptoms of COVID, they will be sent home immediately, social distancing will be guaranteed while students enter and leave school, the use of masks will be ensured of all students and teachers.
The other main guidelines include that classes start in two shifts if social distancing cannot be guaranteed due to the large number of students. Schools have been directed to seek parental / guardian written permission before allowing students to enter schools.