New Delhi, 03 January, 2021: India is currently witnessing an upsurge in Omicron cases. As per the records, Maharashtra recorded the maximum number of 450 cases followed by Delhi at 320, Kerala 109, and Gujarat 97. As the spread of Omicron is quite rapid, state governments are finding it difficult to decide whether they should start or shut down schools and colleges once again to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Omicron 2022: State-wise Orders
- The Delhi government issued a yellow alert and shut down schools with immediate effect following a high-level meeting on the COVID-19 situation in the national capital.
- It has announced the winter break for primary classes up to Class 5 from 15 January, 2021 till further notice.
- As per the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) orders, night curfew has been imposed on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) from 27 December, 2021 from 11 pm to 5 pm till further orders.
West Bengal and Lucknow
- The West Bengal government has shut down all educational institutions from today, i.e, 3 January, 2022. These strict COVID regulations have been initiated due to the rising number of Omicron cases across the state.
- Calcutta University has decided to conduct semester exams online.
- Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University (AKTU), Lucknow is in the process of conducting AKTU odd semester exam 2021 in offline mode despite students’ protests to hold an online exam.
Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the Odisha government has withheld its decision to reopen schools for students of Class 1 to Class 5, which were supposed to re-open from today (3 January, 2022).
Note: Schools in Odisha were scheduled to open on January 3 as per the directions of the Odisha government. Physical classes were planned to be resumed in about 27,000 schools in Odisha. However, physical classes for students from Class 6 to Class 10 are all set to continue.
Omicron 2022: Government Initiatives
The Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, has directed all the states and union territories to deal with the increasing Omicron and COVID-19 cases. He has advised them to initiate the process of setting up makeshift hospitals & delegate special teams to monitor patients in home isolation.
Omicron 2022: What do the Parents Want?
With cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) rapidly increasing in India, parents want the government to stop offline classes in schools if multiple cases of the strain are detected in the district or “within 25 kilometres” of their vicinity.
- A majority of the parents are worried about Omicron spreading even more rapidly among children in school.
- Parents have raised concerns over “limited outdoor air ventilation in most classes and no access to air purifiers and greater transmissibility of Omicron”.
Omicron 2022: Vaccination Drives Across India
India is all set to begin vaccinating 15 to 18 year olds from today, 3 January, 2022. The COVID Vaccine Intelligence Work (CoWIN) app had already recorded more than 6 lakh registrations till now.
The Union Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, has advised states and union territories to provide separate vaccination centres, session sites, queues, and different vaccination teams for the 15-18 year age group to avoid confusion pertaining to the age groups.
Below are the state-wise arrangements that are being followed to enable the vaccination drive:
- Delhi has released a list of 159 centers for the vaccination of children of 15-18 years.
- Vaccination centers have been set up in government hospitals, dispensaries, poly-clinics, and Delhi government & municipal schools.
- A maximum of 21 vaccination centers are in South West district, 17 in Central Delhi, 15 in East Delhi, 18 in New Delhi, 11 in North Delhi, 16 in North East, 12 in North West, 10 in Shahdara, 11 in South Delhi, 11 in South East Delhi, and 15 in West Delhi have been identified for children.
- Special protocols have been prepared for the vaccination centers set up in schools. Every school will have to appoint a nodal in-charge. School ID cards will also be valid for vaccination ID proof.
- Walk-in registration facility will also be provided at the vaccination center.
- Over 15 lakh children between the age of 15 and 18 are eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine in Haryana.
- Online registrations have already begun on January 1, 2022 while the option for on-site registration is also available.
- A separate queue for the children will be maintained and dedicated staff will be put on duty for their vaccination. Wherever possible, a separate vaccination centre will be set up for them.
Registration for vaccination of 15-18 year olds has started in Kerala with the vaccination drive and for this purpose, special vaccination centres have been set up.
First preference will be given to those who have registered on the CoWin portal. Spot registration for vaccinations has also been made feasible.
Note: In order to differentiate between centres for the age group of 15-18 and those for adults, pink boards have been used outside the vaccination centre for the age group. Blue boards will be used outside centres for adults.
- In Rajasthan, vaccination for the 15-18 year age group has begun today.
- For this purpose, around 3500 government medical institutions have been set up across the state.
- Assam has also started the vaccination drive for the 15-18 years age group.
- The deputy commissioners of districts in Assam have been ordered to select at least 10 schools (in case of smaller districts) and 15-20 schools (in larger districts) for the vaccination drive.
- Tamil Nadu has started with the vaccination of around 33 lakh children aged between 15 and 18.
- The drive has begun at respective educational institutions of the students.
Note: The plan is to vaccinate 8% of those in the 15-18 age group who are studying in government-run schools and in private institutions in Class 10, Class 11, and Class 12 by appointing a medical team.
Omicron 2022: Future of Students At Stake
Due to the prolonged closure of the schools and colleges, students are facing mental and physical stress.
Learning loss has become a global issue and steps to bridge the learning gap requires immediate steps.
Note: Education experts have been warning against school closures considering the future of the students. However, the governments are stuck in making a tough choice between health and education of the students.