Pandemic surveillance stepped up in schools

Four teachers and one student test positive for the virus after school reopening

A two-tier monitoring system has been activated in schools under the Education Department in Ernakulam as part of precautionary measures against the pandemic initiated after their reopening on January 1.

The Deputy Director of Education is leading the first team by overseeing the overall functioning of schools, while the second-rung comprises educational officers in each sub-district under the department. “I am conducting random visits to schools to ascertain whether the COVID-19 protocol is implemented. It is a daily process, and I cover at least two schools,” said Honey G. Alexander, Deputy Director of Education, Ernakulam.

Educational officers at the sub-district level visit all schools under their jurisdiction. They interact with teachers, non-teaching staff, and students and take stock of the academic and infrastructural requirements. Each school has a COVID-19 monitoring cell comprising the principals, teachers, parents, and representatives of local bodies. Ms. Alexander said a health report was being filed daily. “The data is uploaded to the directorate in Thiruvananthapuram as part of the State-wide process,” she added.

Preliminary estimates showed that four teachers and one student tested positive after schools reopened on January 1. But officials said they did not get infection from anybody in schools, as teachers were from different schools. All safety guidelines, including isolating primary contacts, are being followed in such cases, they added.

M. Narayanan, State president of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, reminded of the need to comply with safety precautions and guidelines issued by the government. “Ensure physical distancing, wear masks, use sanitisers, and disinfect classrooms. Students should not share their learning materials or food items. Crowding has to be avoided while having lunch or in break hours,” he said.

Suggesting that outdoor games be avoided, Dr. Narayanan said care should be taken not to breach the Break the Chain protocol. “We could continue holding classes for the existing Class 10 and 12 students only for the rest of this academic year by maintaining all safety precautions,” he said.

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