May 18th, 2020 - Posted By Yureshya Perera
It is heartening to note that the decision to reopen schools on May 11th has been reconsidered positively. Exposing 4.3 million school children to a potential resurgence of the virus with no clear plan would have been dangerous, when we still haven’t had a straight 48-72 hours without a single Covid patient being reported. Sanitizing all schools effectively would need time and resources. Overcrowding of classrooms in urban/popular schools, inability to implement safe-distancing methods and lack of adequate facilities for hand-hygiene, are all reasons to consider before announcing re-opening. At a recent Webinar the Minister of Education explained some initiatives they were considering, like sanitization and opening schools on a staggered basis, to minimize overcrowding. He also mentioned the costs the Govt would have to bear in that regard. https://www.facebook.com/srilankaunites.org/videos/2789233571361609/
Certain countries where the pandemic operated in huge proportions are considering strategic, phased-out re-opening with all safe-guards in place. In Sri Lanka, in addition to utilizing our effective public health infrastructure, measures like minimal use of school vans, preventing overcrowding of the school, and implementing two-tiered systems where children can attend schools in two sessions (certain grades in the morning, and certain grades in the afternoon – giving priority to Advance Level students), should all be considered before decisions are made. And eventually moving towards a hybrid system of learning (using offline & online systems), so that during unexpected school closures students will not be without any form of education.