WHO scientist urges caution as schools set to reopen

Covid-19: WHO chief scientist urges caution as states gear up to reopen schools

Multiple states have announced dates for limited reopening of in-person classes

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan. Credit: AFP file photo

As states get ready to welcome students back for in-person classes from this month, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization has warned that children will face long-term impact to their mental, physical and cognitive wellbeing.

There is a fear that the lenghty school shutdown has impacted the mental health of children, as studies showed that a majority of parents said that digital schooling has failed its purpose, while the ASER report showed that only one-third of the country’s schoolchildren were pursuing online education.

"The impact on children's mental, physical and cognitive wellbeing will last a long time. School openings must be prioritized with distancing, masking, avoiding indoor singing and gatherings, hand hygiene & vaccination of all adults," WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said, quoting a tweet that said that the education of 1.5 billion children around the world was affected due to Covid-19.

States like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have announced that schools will be reopening in a limited capacity later in August or early September, while West Bengal is mulling reopening schools after the Durga Puja vacation in November.