A pandemic-optimized plan for kids to resume their education

Source: Livemint

Relevance: To improve education, reopening the schools is the way forward.


India’s hard-won educational gains could be lost if India still did not reopen schools.


Schools must reopen and our children must return to education. Some systematic state efforts and voluntary initiatives by teachers for in-person engagement, including mohalla classes, have been laudable but grossly inadequate, to compensate for closed schools.

Why do we need to reopen schools?

This pandemic has driven education into an unprecedented crisis.

  • Children have not only lost over a year of education, but they have also lost a lot of what they had learned before—the phenomenon of learning loss.
  • Economic devastation, combined with a break in habit, may result in large numbers of students dropping out.
  • Children are being ‘promoted to the next class, without addressing the lost year of education.
  • Careless and misinformed decisions, the kind of which we have seen too often for comfort during the pandemic, would be disastrous for education.
How to reopen schools?
  • No school should be opened till all its teachers and other team members have been fully vaccinated. This is to protect them and minimize the risk of their being carriers of the covid virus to children. Vaccination priority should be accorded to school staff.
Read more: Recognising teachers as front line workers
  • Schools will have to be opened even though children have not been vaccinated. But we should plan our vaccination program for children. This should include trials and approvals, the procurement and delivery of vaccines, mobilization, including efforts to address any hesitancy.
  • Decisions to open schools should be taken for geographic units that encompass relatively proximate communities, and certainly not for an entire state or district simultaneously. As a default option, these units can be panchayats in rural areas and wards in urban areas.
    • Schools serving tight and small communities can open with relatively low levels of vaccination of the relevant population. This is because children and adults from such communities intermingle anyhow, and thus open schools do not materially increase the risk of transmission.
    • Schools that serve dispersed communities would require higher levels of vaccination before they open.
    • In general, early opening of primary and middle schools, particularly in rural areas, with higher classes having to wait longer, especially in large cities.

Overall, India must open schools at the earliest, but it must do so with rigorous procedures along with genuine expert advice, and recognise that the biggest priority today for education is vaccination.

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