After school students test positive, Bihar plans random testing in schools

Alarmed by the detection of Covid-19 infection in 25 students of a Munger school during a test camp and headmaster of a Gaya school testing positive , the education department of the Bihar government has now decided to go in for random testing of students and teachers/staff of schools across the state.

At Lal Bahadur Shastri Kisan High School in Asarganj block of Munger district, 15 students, besides teachers and a peon, on Thursday were found to have tested positive. All the students are of class 9. As soon as the matter came to light, the civil surgeon asked for contact tracing, while the district administration ordered closure of schools.

Binodanand Jha, director, research and training, department of education, said the department has been working closely with the health department in this regard. “We have also requested the health department for random testing of students and teachers in the schools. Wherever any case is detected, the schools have to be closed immediately. We want the schools to run, but there will be no leniency in following the Covid protocol,” he added.

Jha said that so far, just one school has reported Covid-19 positive cases among students. In Kilkari, an initiative for children’s creative development, one child was detected Covid-19 positive and the institution was closed. It was opened only after thorough screening and sanitization. The same has to be followed in the schools,” he added.

Amit Kumar deputy director in the department, said at present, just one secondary school has reported out of over 8000 which have opened. “But the government has taken a serious note of it. As far as the affected Munger school is concerned, all necessary steps as per Covid protocol; are being taken and the school has been closed,” he added.

The schools and colleges in Bihar, which remained closed since March 2020 due to pandemic, opened from January 4 by the government order. From Friday, practical examinations of the Bihar school examination board have also got underway and lakhs of students would take the exams in the coming weeks across the state.

The Upgraded high school, Khijarsarai, under Sariya block of Gaya district also had to be closed soon after opening after the headmaster of the school was found Covid-19 positive. The headmaster, admitted to a Patna hospital, himself informed the district education officer (DEO) about his condition and feared spread of infection to other teachers also. He urged the DEO for closure of school to prevent further spread. In Patna also, some staff of the district programme officer (DPO) were also found positive.

What is significant is that both the instances of Covid-19 spread have been reported from rural areas, where the spread of infection is presumed to be less. After secondary classes, the government also has to take a call on opening other schools from January 18, which would be a bigger challenge.

In the secondary schools, the government has also started surprise inspection of academic activities from Thursday across the state. During the inspection, the officials will ensure that the Covid-19 guidelines, which include only 50% attendance of students on alternate days, social distancing, use of masks and handwash, besides all other precautions and required facilities, are strictly followed.

After secondary classes, the government also has to take a call on opening other schools from January 18. The board practical exams have also got underway, which would require greater vigil.

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