Schools in Punjab will reopen tomorrow only for students from Class 5 to 12, the state government said today in a statement. The schools can work from 10 am to 3 pm, Punjab Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla said in the statement.
Mr Singla said the decision comes after persistent demand by parents to reopen all schools – government, semi-government and private ones.
He said Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has asked officials to ensure safety of children amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All schools will have to strictly follow guidelines, standard operating procedures and advisories issued by the state health department and the Health Ministry.
The administration of several schools had requested the education department to allow them to reopen before annual exams so that students can do a final revision.
Thousands of schools across the country have been shut since the pandemic reached India early last year and a lockdown was enforced. Many have started reopening only in recent times.
A vaccine should first be given to adults, starting with teachers, to prevent community spread of the coronavirus disease through students, the chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Tuesday while responding to a query on when can Indians expect schools to reopen.
“The United Kingdom has burnt its fingers twice by opening up schools. The teachers should be the first to get vaccinated. The adults in their families also need to be vaccinated so that there is no spread,” ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday.
The question assumes importance since only one of the two vaccines approved so far – Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin – has been tested in children.
Dr Bhargava also shared data of Covaxin phase 1 and 2 clinical trials which showed “very low adverse events” on volunteers which included children above the age of 12 years.
While the Drugs Controller General of India has allowed testing Covaxin on those above 12 years in the ongoing phase 3, it has approved Covishield shots only for adults.