With Covid cases on the decline and tourism activities commencing, the stage is set for schools to reopen with the expert panel recommending a hybrid mode and optional attendance.
On Monday, the 12th meeting of the Expert Committee members was convened by Prof Dr S M Bandekar, GMC Dean to discuss on SOPs on reopening of schools.
According to sources, the Expert Committee has recommended school SOPs to the government of Goa, and its being decided to open the schools in optional/hybrid mode with Covid appropriate behaviour.
Initially classes for Std 9, 10, 11 and 12 would be started, and Covid cases scenario will be reviewed every 15 days. The exact date to open the schools in the State is not yet decided and the government, after going through the recommendations, will decide the date of reopening schools for classes 9 to 12.
The recommendations include double vaccination for the staff before 15 days and those who are not vaccinated yet, should produce RT-PCR reports on a weekly basis.
Parents, household contacts need to be vaccinated one month before the school reopening day. It is for the parents to see if the school drivers are vaccinated and decide whether they want to send their wards to school or not.
Another recommendation is it is optional for parents to send their children to school, and those who do not wish to do so, may continue with online learning.
It is also optional for the school to decide whether it wants to reopen in hybrid mode or continue only online teaching. The school will do an internal review and decide on this, the panel said.
The social distancing norms would be easier to follow, as many of the classrooms will be vacant, and students can have two classrooms, instead of one.
As per the recommendations, the situation of Covid positivity will be reviewed every fortnight, and decision to continue in hybrid mode or not, will be taken accordingly.
The SOPs say, if a child has flu-like illness, he/she will be asked to stay at home for 10 days, even if the child is Covid negative.
Dr Dhanesh Volvoikar, president of Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP)’s Goa chapter says, “there may be questions and doubts, on the school reopening… children are losing touch with the outside world and society. Many of them are not used to handling gadgets and have no habit of writing. They can only copy, and eventually these issues would be difficult to handle if schools remain closed for longer durations”.
The Indian Academy of Paediatrics has also released an Advisory on School Reopening in September stating the reasons why the schools need to be reopened, says Dr Volvoikar.