Amid low Covid positivity rate among children, experts suggest reopening of schools in Karnataka

Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, a member of the committee, said a recommendation had been made to the government to reopen schools for Classes I to V considering the current situation.

With the Covid-19 positivity rate among school children around 0.08 per cent, members of the expert committee constituted by the Karnataka government suggested that the state government may reopen schools for all classes in the state.

Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, a member of the committee, said a recommendation had been made to the government to reopen schools for Classes I to V considering the current situation.

“It is a fact that the pandemic is not going to end completely in a month or two and school students should be allowed to attend offline classes at least now. With staggered sessions held in well-ventilated classrooms and students encouraged to wash hands frequently, schools can function safely,” he told The Indian Express.

“With this and a strong system of vigilance and surveillance in place, the state government can permit schools to reopen,” he said.

Dr Ballal also noted that while a considerable share of the population was exposed to Covid-19 during the second wave, the infection was “not of serious concern” among children. “In most cases, it looked like regular flu and children were able to recover fast,” he noted.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in a meeting held last week stated that testing should be ramped up. The committee also indicated that efforts should be made to bring students back to schools due to the low TPR.

The Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), which earlier warned the government against reopening of schools, has now suggested that Classes I to V could also be opened since there has been no significant rise of Covid-19 among school children.

“We have observed a very low Covid positivity rate among school children. However, there is a high level of seropositivity among them. This proves that these children have already been exposed to Covid and have developed antibodies. Significant rise of Covid positivity has not been seen. The spread of dengue and influenza is more among children,” said the President of PHANA, Dr Prasanna H M.

“Since we have not seen a significant rise of Covid among school children from Classes VI to XII, which reopened recently, I believe that a trial run for Classes I to V could be done. Precautions should be taken,” he said.

On the recommendation of the TAC, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has also asked the schools to identify nodal officers who should work in coordination with the health officer working in the primary health centre (PHC) that falls in the same area as the school.

BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta also issued directions that students with symptoms persisting for more than two days must be asked not to attend school. He added that if the information of children with symptoms is provided to the PHC, a team of health officials would visit houses and conduct tests.

“RT-PCR test is being conducted for children with symptoms persisting for more than two days and most children have tested negative. In this regard, guidelines from BBMP would be issued to all hospitals about conducting tests for children with symptoms for more than two days and children who are being hospitalised due to other diseases,” he added.

Children often have symptoms such as fever, common cold and cough during the period of infection and are cured within a week, officials said.

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