Andhra rules out closure of schools amid rise in COVID-19 cases

On Monday, schools reopened after Sankranti holidays, but attendance was sparse as parents were worried about sending their children to school due to COVID-19.
Several students seated in a classroom wearing masks
Several students seated in a classroom wearing masks
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Even as the daily COVID-19 tally continues to remain high, Andhra Pradesh Education Minister Adimoolapu Suresh insisted on Monday, January 17, that schools will continue in offline or physical mode. On Monday, schools resumed classes after a week's Sankranti holidays, but attendance was sparse as parents are worried about sending their children to school given the current COVID-19 situation.

Speaking to the media after a meeting of the Education Department, Suresh said that the decision to continue classes in offline mode has been taken in the best interests of the students. "Already 150 days of school have been completed in this academic year, and we intend to continue the remaining session in offline mode. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we followed an 'all pass' approach in the last years but we understand the problems that the students will face in future if this continues," he said.

Stating that online classes have certain limitations, the minister said that parents of students need not worry about their safety as the teachers are fully vaccinated and 90% of the students aged 15 years and above have also been given the first dose. Stating that there was little connection between COVID-19 spread and conducting classes in schools, the minister said that the government will take appropriate measures if the situation warrants them.

Following the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, other southern states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, and Karnataka have put offline classes on hold. On Monday, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) general secretary Nara Lokesh had written to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy to do the same.

“As you are well aware, a majority of the students are unvaccinated. Vaccine trials and announcements for beginning immunisation for under-15 are being undertaken only in the last few months. It is imperative that we do not willingly expose these students to any kind of risk. Even though fatality rates among students are extremely low, the same cannot be said to the elders in their household,” Lokesh said.

“We must not willingly create conditions for a severe third wave to overwhelm our public health facilities,” he added.

Andhra Pradesh's COVID-19 positivity rate spiked to nearly 18% as the state reported 4,108 new cases on Monday, January 17.  Though fewer tests were conducted during the period, the state still logged over 4,000 new cases. The active cases in the state stand at 30,182.

With IANS inputs

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