Reopening Schools Should Be The Priority: WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan

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Chennai: World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that states should reopen schools so that learning and overall health of the children are not affected. In the absence of a vaccine, states should test more and isolate COVID-19 patients.

In an interview to The Times of India, Swaminathan stated that disruptions to instructional time in the classroom can have a severe impact on a child’s ability to learn, Swaminathan said that the states should prioritise how and when the schools can be reopened. “The impact can be worse when the poor and marginalised children are out of school for long. They may not have facilities to access online education and many may not return to schools if they don’t restart,” Swaminathan was quoted as saying by the national daily.

The chief scientist also mentioned that being out of school increases the risk of child abuse, child marriage, violence and other threats.

Speaking on how schools can reopen amid the growing number of COVID cases, calling it a tough task, she said, “Preparation for reopening must start well in advance. Most government now have improved strategies to tract, test and isolate covid patients. We must continue to make use of these tools. Initially, schools should open in low incidence districts with staggered timings.”

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