Students attend their class after schools were reopened in New Delhi, September 1, 2021. Photo: PTI/Vijay Verma
New Delhi: The Ministry of Education (MoE) on Tuesday asked all states and Union Territories to vaccinate all teaching and non-teaching staff in schools with at least one dose in September, as schools across the country are set to reopen for physical classes.
In a meeting with education secretaries from states and UTs, school education secretary Anita Karwal asked the officials to create a roadmap to vaccinate teachers on priority. Schools have to update data on the vaccination of teachers twice a week on a Google tracker, she said.
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had on last Wednesday said more than two crore additional COVID-19 vaccine doses are being made available to states this month, and they have been asked to vaccinate all school teachers on priority before Teachers’ Day on September 5.
“The education ministry has advised all the states and UTs to give the first dose of vaccine to all the teaching and non-teaching staff during September. Those who have already received the first dose should be followed up rigorously to get their second dose,” a senior MoE official told news agency PTI.
Schools across the country were closed in March last year ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Centre had allowed the reopening of schools as per the COVID-19 situation in October last year. While several states began partial reopening of schools, there was a complete closure again in April when a devastating second wave hit the country.
With daily cases stagnating around 40,000, several states have begun reopening schools now, even as concerns have been expressed over the staff and teachers not being completely vaccinated.
Maharashtra: Task force recommends priority vaccination
The Maharashtra COVID-19 task force on children on Tuesday also highlighted the need to vaccinate teachers and non-teaching staff in schools on a priority basis before any decision is taken on reopening schools for physical classes.
The paediatrician task force was formed by the state government in May to prevent children from contracting COVID-19 amid fears of a possible third wave of the pandemic.
Schools in most urban areas of the state are not holding in-person classes.
The task force has issued a set of guidelines but said teachers and non-teaching staff in schools should get vaccinated against COVID-19 before in-person classes are resumed. This would minimise the chances of infections among pupils.
Dr Bakul Parekh, a senior Mumbai paediatrician and a member of the task force, told PTI that the task force has also recommended that only one student should to allowed to sit on a bench and classes should be planned accordingly. If possible, schools with online teaching infrastructure can simultaneously hold physical as well as online classes. Students can attend (in-person) classes by rotation, he said.
Vehicles ferrying school children should not have closed windows and they should have sufficient ventilation, Parekh said.
The task force has suggested that school administrations should hold parent-teacher meetings before re-opening schools. “At these meetings, parents should be apprised about the precautions schools will be taking for the safety of students,” Parekh said.
(With PTI inputs)