In a worrying trend, as many as 829 teachers and 575 students have tested positive for COVID-19 in Andhra Pradesh after government schools reopened on November 2, according to the school education department officials.
While the attendance of students to schools remained less than 40% reflecting apprehension among parents over the pandemic, observers are saying that improper implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols is causing the spread of virus among teachers and students.
Government schools across the state were reopened for classes 9 and 10 and intermediate second year students.
According to the statistics released by the officials, while tests were conducted on 70,790 teachers, 829 of them were tested positive as of Thursday, November 5. Similarly, of 95,763 tests conducted on students attending schools, 575 tested positive.
V Chinna Veerabhadrudu, Commissioner of School Education, said that the COVID-19 figure is not alarming compared to the number of students attending schools.
“About four lakh students are attending school across the state everyday. This means that the number of students who tested positive is not even 1% of the total students attending classes. With respect to teachers also, as on Wednesday, 99,000 teachers, out of the total 1.11 lakh, attended schools and only 829 have tested positive,” the official told reporters.
Meanwhile, members of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) in the state welcomed the reopening of schools but are pointing out the discrepancies in schools. “COVID-19 cases are detected in schools were safety protocols are not in place,” said Prasanna Kumar, state vice president of SFI. He added that the students’ organisations including SFI are demanding the government to conduct both online and offline classes simultaneously. “We are demanding the government to provide free Android Tablets and internet connection for higher secondary education students for online classes,” said Prasanna.
Interestingly, according to report by Telugu daily Andhra Jyothi, the attendance of students is higher in rural regions compared to urban regions.
Parents Protest Against Lack of Safety Protocols
In Nidamanuru in Krishna district, several parents staged a protest on Thursday alleging that there were no COVID-19 precautions such as availability of sanitisers and thermal screening for their children studying in the Zilla Parishad school there.
It may be mentioned that , Dr V Mohan, chairman of Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, had claimed that children can be “Super Spreaders” of COVID-19. He argued that one COVID-19 infected child has a potential of spreading the disease to 200 to 250 people while warning the possibility of resurgence of the coronavirus.
Communist Party of India state secretary Ramakrishna has written a letter to Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy suggesting the government to reconsider its decision on schools reopening while warning about the spread of the virus.
On the other side, there is a decline in the daily number of COVID-19 positive cases in the state for the last few weeks. On Thursday, 2,745 new cases were registered and 13 people died of the disease.
So far, the state has reported 8.35 lakh COVID-19 cases and 6,757 deaths. A total of 84.27 lakh samples have been tested and the state currently has 21,878 active cases, according to the state health department.
Also read: COVID-19: Telugu States Stare at Deepening Health Crisis