Denmark reopened schools in April. Japan opened some in May, as did Korea. Even China reopened schools in Wuhan, where it all began, in May.(Reuters image)
Denmark reopened schools in April. Japan opened some in May, as did Korea. Even China reopened schools in Wuhan, where it all began, in May.(Reuters image)

Covid-19: What you need to know today

There are reports that India plans to reopen schools in July, at least for some classes. That’s the beginning of the term in some parts of the country (including Delhi).
By R Sukumar | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 27, 2020 01:16 AM IST

On Monday, schools in Australia’s New South Wales province officially reopened, signalling a “return to normal” that the country, which has seen around 7,100 coronavirus disease cases and 102 deaths, hopes to achieve in stages by July.

On Tuesday, two private schools in Sydney, the state’s biggest and most important city, closed after a student tested positive in each; both schools had already opened last week after the state decided it was alright to do so because the number of cases was declining. To be sure, the response to the schools having to close so soon after opening (and, hopefully, temporarily) has been just what it should be – even, non-hysterical, and pragmatic. The state’s education minister said school closures brought about by students testing positive were “something we are going to have to live with”, according to a report in The Guardian. Four other Australian states, including Queensland, have also resumed face-to-face schooling (as it is now called; another coinage necessitated by the pandemic). On Monday, news agency AP reported Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk as saying that “we have to take each day as it comes”.

Somehow there’s nothing that quite signals a “return to normal” as well as children attending school does – as parents can vouch, it changes the entire rhythm of households in the morning (and not always for the better, but that’s another story).

Denmark reopened schools in April. Japan opened some in May, as did Korea. Even China reopened schools in Wuhan, where it all began, in May.

There are reports that India plans to reopen schools in July, at least for some classes. That’s the beginning of the term in some parts of the country (including Delhi). Schools reopen earlier in other parts of the country; in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, for instance, the school term starts in June, but given the disease burden in these states (Maharashtra has the highest and Tamil Nadu the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases in the country) that seems unlikely.

Still, open they will all have to at some time. Online education privileges the privileged and excludes others. Schools and classrooms try to provide as level a playing field as they can (many fail, and that, too, is another story). Sure, interventions are possible; the state can provide devices (tablets or laptop computers) but it cannot ensure that all students are in an environment that is conducive to learning. Schools, good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar schools, with face-to-face schooling, are still the best way to do that.

What does science say on pandemics and school closures?

A review of epidemiological studies published in BMJ suggests that closing schools does seem to reduce the transmission of influenza. While the coronavirus disease is not the flu, it can be safely assumed that school closure will reduce its transmission too. However, there’s still no authoritative research on the role of children as transmitters of the coronavirus disease. There are papers suggesting that they don’t get infected much; do not show symptoms even if they are; and are not as contagious as adults who are infected – but none of these are established facts as yet. These are important questions to answer – especially knowing that older people are more vulnerable to Covid-19, and that many children in India still continue to live in joint families, or in nuclear families with at least one parent of a parent being a member of the household.

And these are just some of the variables administrators and policymakers will have to factor in while taking a call on how and when schools should be reopened.

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Delhi's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.(HT photo)
Delhi's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.(HT photo)

Delhi Budget LIVE: Manish Sisodia to present budget today

By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
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Delhi deputy chief minister and finance minister Manish Sisodia arrives to present Delhi budget at Vidhan Sabha. (HT Photo by Raj K Raj)
Delhi deputy chief minister and finance minister Manish Sisodia arrives to present Delhi budget at Vidhan Sabha. (HT Photo by Raj K Raj)

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The Child Budget Statement is proposed to be prepared in two parts, namely 100 per cent child-centric and less than 100 per cent child-centric programmes/ schemes. (Deepak Gupta/HT)
The Child Budget Statement is proposed to be prepared in two parts, namely 100 per cent child-centric and less than 100 per cent child-centric programmes/ schemes. (Deepak Gupta/HT)

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The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)

SC to examine whether to review 50% cap on quota: Key points

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Representational image.

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ED officials at Khaira's home in Chandigarh on Tuesday morning.(HT Photo/Ravi Kumar)
ED officials at Khaira's home in Chandigarh on Tuesday morning.(HT Photo/Ravi Kumar)

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The statement was issued by the high commission said, following the debate which stemmed from an e-petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures on the parliamentary website.(AFP file photo)
The statement was issued by the high commission said, following the debate which stemmed from an e-petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures on the parliamentary website.(AFP file photo)

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Representational image. (HT Archive)
Representational image. (HT Archive)

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Elderly citizens receive Covid vaccine shots in Guwahati on Monday.(PTI Photo)
Elderly citizens receive Covid vaccine shots in Guwahati on Monday.(PTI Photo)

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IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said that India is at the 'forefront' of fighting the pandemic.(Bloomberg/file)
IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said that India is at the 'forefront' of fighting the pandemic.(Bloomberg/file)

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Fire breaks out at the 12th floor of a multi-storeyed building in Kolkata, Monday, March 8, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI)
Fire breaks out at the 12th floor of a multi-storeyed building in Kolkata, Monday, March 8, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI)

Kolkata fire tragedy: Centre orders high-level inquiry and other latest updates

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  • On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ex-gratia of 2 lakh each from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund for the next of kin of those killed in the fire.
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Representational image.
Representational image.

Delhi HC to hear plea challenging new rules to regulate internet content

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UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2021 09:16 AM IST
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A Kashmiri boy walks homeward after attending private classes, after a brief spell of fresh snowfall in the outskirts of Srinagar Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin)(AP)
A Kashmiri boy walks homeward after attending private classes, after a brief spell of fresh snowfall in the outskirts of Srinagar Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin)(AP)

News updates from HT: IMD predicts rain, snow in western Himalayan region

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Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
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Rohtak has seen a steep rise in crime, particularly murders. The district has reported 14 murders this year against last year’s nine in the same time period. (AFP)
Rohtak has seen a steep rise in crime, particularly murders. The district has reported 14 murders this year against last year’s nine in the same time period. (AFP)

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PTI
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