By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: With several states deciding to reopen schools at secondary and senior secondary levels in the wake of the waning COVID pandemic, the Union education ministry has asked states for the vaccination status of teachers.
The newly appointed education minister Dharmendra Pradhan while interacting with officials from several states said that states should share this data with the Centre soon, sources in the government said, adding that a decision on when and how to open schools has been completely left to states.
The move comes as some state governments such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have decided to open schools for secondary and senior secondary level students on a rotation basis — with students allowed to attend classes on alternate days — with certain precautions.
Centrally there is no data available on COVID-19 vaccination status of teachers in about 15 lakh schools across India even as the inoculation was opened for all adults beginning May 1.
Only last week, top senior officials including ICMR director general Balaram Bhargava had said in a press briefing that primary schools in India can be opened first in districts reporting less than 5% Covid19 test positivity rates as kids can handle infection better.
It was, however, also recommended that full vaccination of teachers and all support staff in schools should be ensured before schools can be reopened.
UNICEF too on several occasions has pointed out that while the pandemic has resulted in a great learning loss to children, vaccinating teachers is a critical step towards putting it back on track.
“UNICEF is calling for teachers to be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, once frontline health personnel and high-risk populations are vaccinated,” it had recently said in a statement. “This will help protect teachers from the virus, allow them to teach in person, and ultimately keep schools open.”