Despite an increase in the number of omicron cases in India, many prominent scientists believe schools should reopen for the junior classes and remain open and operational for the senior classes.
They believe Omicron causes very mild symptoms. “Children have robust immune systems and with proper exercise and physical activity, their immune systems become much more robust,” says Prof. RM. said Pitchappan, a well-known immunologist and currently Honorary Visiting Professor of Biology at Madurai-Kamaraj University.
“They’re not going to catch an infection that easily, and even if they do, it won’t do any harm because their immune systems are already very strong,” he added.
While many parents are still very concerned about sending their children to school, here are ten parents who agree with these scientists and believe it’s time for science and the available evidence to take over the emotional sentiments.
Bhaskaran Raman, Professor, IIT Bombay (Children in Grades 3 & 9)
“It is absurd to think that children have not been exposed to the virus, especially when everything is open to adults. In fact, serostudies show that children were exposed similarly to adults. In addition, the risk of Covid for children is many times lower than even the risk of road accidents. Do we close schools or do we always leave children at home because of the risk of a traffic accident? Certainly not! So closing schools is only harm and not a benefit.”
Tanya Aggarwal, Lawyer, Delhi (Child in Class 1)
“It’s a matter of priorities. It is clear that India does not see education as essential. The authorities have prioritized everything else – elections, festivals, economic activity – over education. In many parts of the world, schools have remained open to large parts of the pandemic. India now ranks second behind Uganda for the longest school closures — just a week behind. India is the exception, not the norm.”
Sarayu Natarajan, Founder, Aapti Institute in Bangalore, (Child in Class 2)
“Although there is data showing schools are not places for the spread of Covid, they remain closed. But weddings, restaurants, gatherings – known places for the spread – are open, and children are free to leave. That would be funny if it weren’t so detrimental to our children’s mental and physical well-being.”
dr Firuzi Mehta, Homeopathic Doctor in Mumbai (8th and 3rd grade children)
“The experience of the last 22 months has shown that the risk of severe Covid in children is tiny and the majority of children have already been exposed and have natural immunity. On the other hand, the potential risks of the vaccine have recently been unknown. In my clinical practice I have seen multiple deaths, many new health problems and serious flare-ups of existing problems in adults shortly after vaccination, most of which are not officially registered as adverse events. Can we ever run such a risk in children who live their whole lives face because we cannot easily reverse vaccine damage? Therefore, the risk-benefit ratio does not justify universal vaccination for children. Ideally, schools should open now because evidence shows there is no scientific reason to close them keep.”
dr Sarbani Banerjee, Senior Project Scientist, IIT Bombay, Powai, (Children in Grades 8 & 10)
“When Covid was at its peak countries like the UK had their schools open to children as these countries know that children need to interact a lot with their peers: for all social/economic classes this interaction is important for their emotional and social development. Furthermore, India has included RTE as a “right” after a tough fight by various activists. If education is a right, if it is an essential service, schools should never be closed. It is just nasty and barbaric for a small decision-making body to make it happen To choose or decide the fate of the schools of society as a whole. Parents are wise enough and goodwill enough to decide to send their children to school: Please stop imposing a curfew on us all.”
Nisha Koiri, Naturopath, Mumbai, (Child in Grade 9)
“I am more than happy to send my 9th grade daughter to gym school because online classes are definitely not for kids. We are social and social creatures and we need human-to-human interaction to learn and thrive. School is simply not just for learning but it is also for interacting with other children which can prepare them for daily life in the outside world. Children are definitely not affected by Corona and these experimental vaccines and tests for clinical trials are allowed not to be used on children at all Let them play, learn normally and boost immunity naturally like they always do.
Gauri Kumar, Lawyer, Gurugram, (Child in Class 8)
Education is important. There has been a major setback for our children on multiple levels, from learning to social and emotional well-being. We need to get back on track to give them back their childhood and equal opportunities to pursue their dreams. And we must act quickly to open the schools as soon as possible.
Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Associate Professor, Advanced Center for Women’s Studies, TISS Mumbai, (Child in Class 7)
Access to school and education is not a privilege but a right of every child. Our children have been denied this right for almost two years now. It’s amazing to see where the priorities are when it comes to children and their education. Replacing physical education with online does not provide children with the support they need for their holistic development. Remember that school is an important social institution outside of the family where they learn the skills to be independent. The cost of this denial is not addressed while only emphasizing the cost of infection.”
Gayatri Sabharwal, Businesswoman in South Mumbai, (KG class and Class 1 children)
“Schools need to open and stay open as we have lost too much time to children over the last 6 months when children could have gone to school. The Pediatric Task Force stated in July 2021 and then September 21 that children need to go back to school because they are inherently immune and need to go to school for their mental and social development. Lakhs of the poorer children stopped learning because they had no access to school and this will set our country back 10 years or more due to the learning loss of our country’s youngest generations.”
Sukriti Goyal, Co-Founder of AvidInvent in Hyderabad, (5 year old child in KG class)
“Schools provide an essential environment to encourage social interaction, learning with and from each other, while instilling confidence in a child and channeling their energy constructively. Distance learning for kids, especially young kids, can’t even come close to the pedagogical experience I’ve noticed a clear difference between the two modes over the past few days when my daughter went to mainstream school. It improved language, skills and mental state.”