2 lakh concerned parents petition govt

New Delhi: Over 2 lakh parents from across the country have signed a petition demanding that schools should not be reopened unless the COVID-19 situation improves or a vaccine is ready.

The petition comes following the government's announcement that schools, colleges, coaching centres and other educational institutions will be reopened after discussing the coronavirus situation with states and union territories in July.

"Opening of schools in July will be the worst decision by the government. It's like playing with fire when we ought to douse it with full force. The current academic session should continue in e-learning mode. If the schools claim that they are doing a good job via virtual learning then why not continue it for the rest of the academic year," said the petition, which has been signed by over 2.13 lakh parents.

Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16 when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of a slew of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Later, the government announced a nationwide lockdown which began on March 25. The lockdown was initially imposed for a 21-day period till April 14. However, it was extended till Sunday. The government had announced phase-wise easing of restrictions while the lockodwn will continue in containment zones till june 30.

"Schools, colleges, educational, training, coaching institutions... will be opened after consultation with states and UTs (Union Territories). State governments and UT administrations may hold consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders. Based on the feedback, a decision on reopening of these institutions will be taken in the month of July, 2020," the Home Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

However, the announcement has rang alarm bells for parents who believe the move will be highly unsafe.

"At home, we can take several precautions but how will we ensure that when kids go to school. Lunch breaks, school buses, everywhere there will be fear. At a time when cases are rising, its not a wise thing to do," said Swati Bhardwaj, mother of a seven-year-old. Gurgaon resident, Mayank Mehra, said, "When the lockdown was announced neither teachers nor students or parents were prepared for the technological intervention but in 2 months ground has been made and it can be smoothly pursued for few months till the situation is normal".

Not advisable to open religious places now, says noted epidemiologist

Bengaluru: Guidelines allowing opening of religious places from June 8 has earned a thumbs down from a noted public health expert and Epidemiologist, who said it would risk higher number of infections in view of greater density in such places, particularly elderly. Professor and Head of Life Course Epidemiology at the Public Health Foundation of India, Giridhara R Babu said it is not the most advisable thing to do at the current stage. "First of all, religious institutions are not the most vital factor for survival, though for a lot of people, mental health is affected because of the sudden lockdown and lack of normal ways of functioning," he told PTI.

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