Reopening of schools in Tamil Nadu is likely to be postponed after the recent incident at IIT Madras where over 180 people – mostly students, were infected after reopening of the colleges in the state.
Tamil Nadu Schools may not reopen in January either. Though the recent cases continue to dip, fresh feedback from various stakeholders has tilted the scale against reopening of schools in January as well. As per latest reports, government may defer the reopening dates and postpone it to time when it is more conducive. The recent COVID cluster in IIT Madras which resulted in as many as 183 people (mostly students) getting infected seems to be the biggest deterrent.
Sources close to the Education Department have shared that the authorities are reconsidering the plans to reopen the schools as yet. Health experts have also pointed out that children could be super spreaders and could reverse the healthy trend of diminishing infections. The scare of a second wave is also a big concern.
At the same time, the spike of cases due to reopening of colleges in Tamil Nadu has also raised concerns among authorities. Local daily DT Next reported a senior official stating that the Government was earlier planning to reopen schools, especially for SSLC and HSE classes after Pongal in January. This, however, is not seeming possible any more.
“Looking at IIT-Madras and Anna University virus spread, besides test results of other higher education institutions which are expected soon, authorities are considering postponing opening of schools till normalcy is restored,” the official told the daily.
The other concern cited by experts is of monitoring. While SOPs and guidelines have been shared, experts note that it is not physically possible to keep a check on all the schools to ensure that the same are followed in letter and spirit. The safety concerns in that respect, hence rise tremendously.
It is, however, not final and the sources have said that the decision would be taken after the test results and feedback is collected. Colleges in Tamil Nadu had reopened from December 7. Barring a COVID-19 cluster at IIT Madras and other spike reported from Anna University, there have been no report of such instances.
The authorities are also considering linking health centres with schools in case the government goes ahead with reopening of schools from mid-January. These centres could ensure that the safety measures are followed carefully. Also, the centres could be considered for conducting health camps on regular basis and also become centres for vaccination, once the inoculation drive begins in the state.
Final decision, officials have shared, would only be taken after consulting with experts as well as stakeholders including parents and teachers. Review of the situation is now expected at the end of December when the government may decide whether or not to reopen the schools in January.