Both stressed that it was important to get children back to schools, and that the damage of not doing so would be worse.

Collage of Rishad Premji and Anand Mahindra, both speaking at events
Atom Education Thursday, July 29, 2021 - 11:35

Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra and Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji are both in favour of opening up schools as cases in several states decline after the second wave. Premji said that schools must “absolutely” be opened, and that currently, them staying closed is worse than opening them up. Anand Mahindra referred to a tweet by the ATE Chandra Foundation which stated that women have been “victims of the pandemic”, and that the damage was not academic but “socio-emotional”. It added that the government’s vaccination programmes need to focus on reopening schools by vaccinating all staff. 

In response, Mahindra said, “This is now critical. We need to focus on getting all schools reopened. ALL staff to get vaccinated on priority to facilitate this Reopening. Very simply, the country’s future is at stake”. Premji concurred, stating, “We absolutely must open schools. The damage of them staying closed is now worse than schools opening. Lots of lessons to take from other countries that have done this successfully.”

At a press conference by the Health Ministry on Tuesday, July 27, NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said the decision on reopening schools is largely being taken by the respective states. "The schools have been closed for a long time and society is concerned about the learning loss but it is walking a tightrope and it is not an easy decision as on one hand there is a risk of infection that has to be weighed out on teaching and learning activities," Paul said.

"The overall approach by the central government from time to time has been (to suggest) which students can come and in what number they can come, but state governments are taking their own decisions. When we open schools it is important that SOPs are followed. The teaching must be conducted in a manner which is COVID appropriate...that remains of paramount importance," he said.

On vaccination for children, joint secretary of the Union ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) Lav Agarwal said Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Zydus Cadilla's vaccine clinical trials are going on and as soon as the results come which are robust enough, the experts will take a decision on when vaccination for children can be allowed.

Several states have started to slowly reopen schools, at least in a limited manner, or are looking at reopening schools next month. This includes Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Maharashtra and others. The Delhi government on Wednesday, July 28, sought feedback from students, teachers and parents about the reopening of schools.

News18 reported earlier this week that the Union government has asked states to push for school teachers and para teachers to be vaccinated soon, and that bodies such as the CBSE and UGC have been asked to look at the status of vaccination.

With PTI inputs

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