Amid soaring mercury, MHRD wants sun exposure for schoolkids
The ministry of human resource and development wants to “promote sun exposure” among schoolchildren, at a time when mercury is touching 40°C in many parts of the country.
A letter from the ministry to all states and Union Territories has advised schools to host more outdoor activities for students to prevent Vitamin D deficiency.
Though dated June 10, it was received by local schools on reopening after summer vacation on Monday, and has sent principals and teachers into a tizzy.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), June was hottest in the region since 2016. In fact, at 44.1 degrees, maximum temperature of the month was recorded in Chandigarh on June 10, the day the letter was issued.
Without mentioning a word about the seasonal conditions, the letter sent to all state education secretaries by under secretary, GoI, Rajesh Kumar Maurya, reads: “Schools may be advised to conduct outdoor activities in sun exposure in free and extra periods. During intervals, the students may be encouraged to play in the field and open area. Teachers may also be advised to conduct as many physical activities as possible in open area so that the students are benefited from sun exposure.”
DOCTORS, TEACHERS RAISE CONCERN
Schools have received the notice at a time the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) wrote to the UT director of school education, requesting “to delay the opening of schools for next four to five days, especially for children in primary classes”, because of “extreme hot conditions”.
PVM Lakshmi, professor in the department of community medicine at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) said: “Exposure to hot climates can cause heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and sunburns. Prickly heat can be caused in places with humid climates where there can be excessive sweating,” adding, “If (students) play outdoors in the hot sun without enough water intake they will get sunstroke and dehydration.”
A teacher, on the condition of anonymity, said: “We received the letter from the district education officer on Tuesday, a day after the schools reopened. It was a shocker for us, as amid such soaring temperatures, how can we send students for outdoor activities.”
Acknowledging the doctors’ and teachers’ concerns, education secretary BL Sharma said: “Instructions have to be understood properly and implemented sensibly and in a scientific manner.”