As a result of an ambiguous notice issued by the District Administration Office, Ishwar Marasini and his wife Sunita of Ranibari were concerned when schools in the Capital that had been shuttered for months due to the Covid-19 outbreak began reopening in mid-September after being closed for months.
Their children’s school had not reopened as of the time of this writing, but they were concerned that the school will resume physical education programmes sooner or later and that they would be forced to take their children back to school. However, they were hopeful that the Kathmandu Metropolitan City would not authorise the commencement of physical education programmes, at least until the Dashain celebration was completed.
However, on Sunday, the City decided to allow schools to resume physical education sessions as long as they adhered to health guidelines.
“Why did they feel the need to reopen the schools when Dashain is only 11 days away?” says the author. Marasini, a 40-year-old stationery business owner in Ranibari, was the one who inquired. “Everyone is aware that the youngsters have not been vaccinated. In the event that they become sick, who will be held accountable?”
Schools were given permission to continue physical education lessons despite warnings from health professionals, educationalists, and parents/guardians.
The Lalitpur Metropolitan City, which is another city in the Kathmandu Valley, reopened its schools just a few days ago. In answer to the Post’s concerns, Lalitpur Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan stated that the city permitted physical education programmes by ensuring that all school staff members and pupils adhered to the city’s health procedures. He had previously confessed that his administration was under tremendous pressure from both school administrators and parents to allow physical education sessions to take place.
While many have praised the move to resume physical education lessons, others have criticised it as “impractical and reckless” given the short timeframe before Ghatasthapana, the opening day of the 15-day holiday, when schools and institutions are required to remain closed.
The government has already decided to open bus ticket booking for Dashain on September 27th, and the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division set up 14 help desks across the Kathmandu Valley on Sunday to assist people who are travelling to their hometowns for the festival. Dashain is celebrated on September 27th this year, and the festival is celebrated on September 27th this year.
Kathmandu is the country’s capital and largest city, and it is home to the greatest number of educational institutions and students in the country. In the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, there are 731 educational institutions with over 365,000 students enrolled.
The chairperson of the Guardians Federation Nepal, Suprabhat Bhandari, expressed regret that “despite our persistent efforts, we were unable to prevent the City officials from taking this irresponsible choice to reopen schools.”
According to data from the city’s health department, there were 2,302 current cases of Covid-19 at the time of writing, and 2,196 persons were placed in home isolation till Friday. The number of fatalities associated with Covid-19 in the city was 536 at the time of the survey.
“I’m just curious as to why the City decided to allow physical education lessons given Kathmandu is still a red zone for virus transmission and the Health Ministry has advised against reopening schools in highly populated districts,” Bhandari wondered.
While the City was still in contact with stakeholders about reopening schools before Dashain, the neighbouring Madhyapur-Thimi Municipality stated that schools would not reopen until after the Chhath celebration, which took place in the middle of November.
Thimi Mayor, Madan Sundar Shrestha, had announced that physical education classes would be closed because 4-6 children under the age of 18 were being infected with Covid-19 every day. He also stated that Kathmandu should take a more serious approach to the issue because it was a more’sensitive zone.’
The public health community has long maintained that youngsters are at greater risk of virus transmission than adults since they have not received vaccinations.
Despite the fact that we bring them to school with masks on, Sunita Marasini, their mother, believes that sending them to school with masks on is problematic because youngsters are not concerned of keeping social distance or wearing masks.
As reported in the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report titled “Tracking the Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Children and Families in Nepal” published on July 21, only 37 percent of children always wore a mask in public, and only 10 percent always practised safe distancing of two metres or more from others.
The City’s spokeswoman, Ishwar Man Dangol, explained that the decision to establish schools despite health experts’ warnings was not made in a vacuum and that the decision was not taken by the City alone.
According to Dangol, “The District Administration Office had already decided to resume physical education programmes, so we held an exhaustive conversation with stakeholders and decided to reopen schools while adhering to a number of requirements to minimise disease transmission.”
The decision on whether or not to reopen the schools is now in the hands of the school administration committees, Dangol explained.
School reopening should have been postponed until after the festive season, according to Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of the Clinical Research Unit at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku, who has long warned that children will be at high risk if the country is hit by a third wave of Ebola.
Due to the large population of Kathmandu, it is necessary to be extremely cautious when returning to physical education classes. Extra measures should be taken by the school. Pun believes that it would have been better to open school after the holiday season was ended because by then more parents would have received vaccinations.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, developed by Pfizer, is being considered for use by the government in youngsters aged 12 to 18 years.
Meanwhile, Bhandari of the Guardians Federation Nepal asserted that the mayor of Kathmandu should be held accountable if anything untoward occurs to children in the capital.