By Shalini Bhardwaj
New Delhi [India], September 10 (ANI): A task force constituted by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) has issued recommendations for schools reopening in the country on the basis of current COVID-19 situation and scientific evidence.
Earlier, the IAP had issued guidelines and recommendations in 2020 on "School Reopening, Remote Learning, and Curriculum during and after Covid-19 pandemic."
The task force comprising of 12 members from across the country has now recommended that the decision of reopening of schools should be taken at the district level.
"Decision making regarding the school reopening should be decentralised, it should be taken at the level of districts (or taluka/city/village /school) according to the local situation rather than at the national or state level)," read the IAP statement.
"Strict compliance to the COVID-19 appropriate behaviour should be encouraged and ensured. Isolation, testing and contracting of symptomatic school attendees should be carried out as per local health guidelines," it said further.
The IAP, a representative association of Pediatricians in India, has also said that the health care system should be adequately geared up to handle outbreaks and local COVID-19 cases should be reviewed every 15 days.
It said that schools and state governments should facilitate the joining of students to school by arranging school transport like pre-Covid era and should not impose restrictions such as RT-PCR Covid test of students.
The pediatricians association also mentioned the criteria for school reopening to be met at the local level.
"The case positivity rate for Covid-19 should be less than 5 per cent for the preceding two weeks or if the case positivity rate is greater than 5 per cent, the total number of new cases should have been steadily declining over the preceding two weeks," it said.
"The number of new cases per lakh population per day should be less than 20 for the preceding two weeks and vaccination coverage of eligible population should be 60 per cent or more that includes atleast one dose of the any of the COVID-19 vaccine," it added.
Speaking further on criteria, the IAP said that all the adult members working at and closely associated with schools that include teachers, non-teaching staff, support staff, drivers, attendants and school visitors should have received atleast one dose of Covid vaccine.
As per the recommendations, high-risk staff members who come under co-morbidities should be fully vaccinated with two doses 15 days before attending school.
"Parents and other members of the students also received atleast one dose of vaccine, and parents should be willing and should give consent for sending their wards to schools. High-risk children should consult their pediatricians before joining the schools," the IAP said.
The IAP did not recommend the seropositivity of the population as an epidemiological indicator for school reopening. (ANI)