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More schools close down, spark debate

The decision of some schools to shut down after their students tested positive for swine flu has triggered a debate on the relevance of such an action.

delhi Updated: Aug 10, 2009 01:21 IST
Rhythma Kaul

The decision of some schools to shut down after their students tested positive for swine flu has triggered a debate on the relevance of such an action.

The administration of New Delhi’s Sanskriti School decided to declare a week-long break after three of its students tested positive to contain the spread of infection.

Delhi Public school, East of Kailash, has closed down till August 15 and Shriram School, Aravalli branch in Gurgaon, closed down for a couple of days when their students tested positive for the flu.

Mother’s International School, on Sunday, decided to keep the pre-primary and primary sections of the school closed for students on Monday.

Defending their decision to close down, Principal of Sanskriti School Abha Sehgal said: “I know the government has asked not to close down schools, but they have also left it to the discretion of schools to take the final call.”

“Closing of schools is not a complete solution, but it’s a precautionary measure,” she said.

The Health Ministry disagreed with the idea.

“The situation as of now doesn’t warrant such a reaction. We have seen how other schools have managed without shutting down,” said Kiran Walia, Health Minister, Delhi Government. “There’re certain precautions that need to be taken if someone has tested positive around you, but there’s absolutely no need to close down the entire school.”

Schools like Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, St. Thomas’s and Springdales, Pusa Road, which were the first few schools to have reported confirmed cases of the flu in the city, took precautionary measures but did not close down entirely.

“How much will you shut? Will you shut the entire country — the malls, the cinema halls or the public transport? That’s irrational. The idea is to fight the situation in a calmer way and not create panic,” said Amita M. Wattal, principal of Springdales, Pusa Road.

Wattal has involved doctor parents of her school to spread the message across.

“The need of the hour is to keep parents and children in the loop to bring down the hyperactivity,” she said.

Many students feel closing down schools would mean loss of precious study time.

“It is a race against time for students of class X and XII to complete their syllabus by October and closing of schools for such a long period would simply overburden them later,” said Avni Mehrotra, a student of class X at St. Thomas’ School near Gole Market.