Most schools in Nepal have been closed since Tuesday, when the government directed them to suspend teaching and learning activities due to increasing air pollution levels.
These schools will most likely start classes next week, but there is still something else they must remember.
People should avoid crowded events such as meetings, processions, marches, assemblies, conferences, and seminars, according to the Ministry of Health and Population, as there is a chance of another wave of Covid-19 spreading. It has only been three months after Nepalese schools resumed physical education classes, and the ministry’s appeal has left them unsure if they can proceed.
Is it safe to go to school?
Schools claim to be following public health guidelines. Masks, hand sanitizers, and hand washing have all been made obligatory. Teachers, on the other hand, say that the students have been unable to maintain physical distance.
“My school lacks the requisite resources. We issued masks to students for a period of time as a result of the assistance of some organizations. That is no longer the case. “Masks are compulsory, but we have not been able to enforce them because most of the students are from economically poor families (who cannot afford them),” says a primary school teacher in Kathmandu.
Hari Prasad Niraula, the head of the Bhaktapur municipality’s Education Department, believes that fully enforcing health safety standards in community schools is a challenge. “Masks are often misplaced, snapped, and littered by children. The schools would then supply them with masks once more. However, the schools’ resources would not allow them to have masks, soaps, or sanitizers.”
Due to the large number of students, Heramba Raj Kandel, principal of Vishwa Niketan Secondary School in Tripureshwar, says it is difficult to maintain physical distance. The masks are also required at this school. As soon as the infection subsided, students who had stopped handwashing resumed the ritual and began using hand sanitizers.
Meanwhile, classes at Thapathali’s Guhyeshwari Secondary School have been conducted in two shifts for several years due to a shortage of classrooms. According to Principal Nita Pokhrel, the school has been able to maintain physical distance as a result.
She claims that masks and sanitizers are needed here, but that there is a lack of water in the school, making handwashing difficult.
Pragati Higher Secondary School in Kupondole has also made masks mandatory for students. Surya Prasad Ghimire, the school’s principal, says the school is handing out masks to students who don’t have them and taking temperature readings at the entrance. However, he believes that, despite the school’s health programs, the risk of injury on the way to and from school is high due to overcrowded public buses.
Experts are suspecting signs of a second wave as the risk of infection increases. They are urging strict adherence to health safety requirements, claiming that failure to do so could result in dire consequences.
The risk appears to be high based on the situation in neighboring countries. Ganesh Poudel, a teacher at a Lalitpur college, believes, however, that the general public has always been careless. “A number of people are walking down the street without masks. They assume the coronavirus is negligible. The kids are studying the same thing, which is incorrect.”
Immediate policy changes are needed.
As the number of cases has risen, so has parental anxiety. Physical distance, the necessary and correct usage of masks, handwashing with soap and water, and the use of sanitizer are all items that children are unable to pay attention to. Parents are worried because they are unsure if schools are properly tracking students, according to Suprabhat Bhandari, president of the Federation of Nepali Parents.
The federation has asked parents not to be alarmed, but rather to inform their children about the importance of health care guidelines and the importance of the school adhering to them. Parents are becoming increasingly anxious after the Ministry of Health and Population released a statement demanding that no meetings, parade, protest, conference, seminar, meeting, or any other crowded business or operation be conducted.
Since schools are high-risk areas, Bhandari proposes creating a separate body at the federal level to oversee only the education sector.
The situation is dangerous, but not in all places. Deepak Sharma, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, says that local governments should work in accordance with the school’s work structure, taking into account the risk.
In a hold-your-breath case,
The School Operating Framework, 2020, gives local councils the authority to run schools in accordance with local conditions or to develop policies in this regard.
The provincial and local governments will use the system to carry out additional programs and establish strategies tailored to local needs in the areas of child protection, disease prevention, and developing a conducive learning environment.
Despite the fact that the number of infected people in the Kathmandu valley is rising, local governments are still waiting and watching.
Ram Prasad Subedi, the chief of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s Education Department, says that no decision has been made yet, but that all schools have been asked to be alert and follow public health standards.
Meanwhile, Mahendra Chhetri, the Chief of the Lalitpur Metropolitan City’s Education Department, says no decisions have been made in response to the Coviud-19 surge.
He also addresses the likelihood of schools introducing the odd-even method.
The city of Bhaktapur is also yet to make a decision. Chief of the Bhaktapur Education Department, Niraula, says officials are waiting and watching.