No one has ever thought that a pandemic would come and affect the whole globe. The coronavirus of COVID 19 had begun in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and was declared pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020. The pandemic have affected all sectors across the globe. It has drastically affected the education sector too. Closures of educational institutions due to COVID 19 have brought significant disruptions to education across the world. According to a UNESCO report, most schools are back open worldwide after the disruption of the pandemic but education is still trying to recover assessing the damage done and lessons learned. The pandemic affected more than 1.5 billion students and youth with the most vulnerable learners were hit hardest. In Manipur normal physical classes have been started from this year academic session. Students attend their regular classes for the last 4-5 months. As there has been witnessing an increase in COVID 19 in the state with the increase number of active cases with three digit number. In the wake of this COVID 19 fourth wave situation, the State education department has issued an order recently to remain closed all the schools in the state till 24th of July 2022. An order has also been issued by State Social Welfare Department regarding the closure of all Anganwadi and kids centres. Health experts report that children below 12 years of age are yet to be vaccinated for COVID 19 and their vulnerability to get infected is possible.
On interacting with some parents, they expressed their views on the steps taken up by the state government to control the spread of the disease by closing all schools till 24th July 2022. They appreciate the timely initiatives taken by the government.
A mother of two sons from Iroishemba Mayai Leikai, Imphal West expressed that to make understand and follow COVID-19 SOP to their wards is very important as a parent. She appealed all the parents to make their children remain at home and not to go to crowded places to prevent from spreading the disease. Though school going children remain at home after the closure of schools but still there is chance of getting infected as their parents and other family members have to attain their offices and other places. She appreciates the government’s initiative of closing the schools as a positive one as this juncture of time with increasing number of active cases of COVID 19 day by day. If children are allowed to attend their school now there is a great chances of being infected as they are not yet vaccinated and their immune system are weak, she added.
Another mother of two daughters from Sagolband Moirang Leirak asserted that her daughter who is studying class -V has started enjoying the offline classes in the last four months interacting with teachers and friends at school. The physical classes have an opportunity to have direct face-to-face interaction among the teachers and students, enjoyment of having friendship and high degree of competitiveness among the students, she narrated. Her daughter is enjoying her classes with full of hopes to resume all the lost knowledge and lessons in the last two years of online classes. Her class I daughter has just stated enjoying the schools building a close relationship with her friends and teachers at school. But the fourth wave of the pandemic will break all the happiness of her daughters at school which is build after a gap of two years. On the other hand considering the threat of COVID 19 on children below 12 years of age, the state government has taken up a right decision on closure of all schools in the state till 24th July 2022, she added. She will send her daughters to schools once the school authorities make all possible arrangement and maintaining the protocol of COVID 19. She also appealed the authorities to keep a vigil on the numbers of children in school vans with maximum number of children in a van which makes the children uncomfortable and congested and never possible for maintaining social distancing.
A parent from Wangkhei, Imphal East asserted that the government’s decision on the closure of schools is a right step concerning the threat on the health of the children due to rapid surge of COVID 19 in the fourth wave. But at the same time it will again resume the dullness and inactive nature of children remaining inside the house for a longer period without playing any outdoor games. Children started enjoying their physical classes in the last four months. But life seems to be more important than education. So really appreciate the Government’s decision on closure of schools as children below 12 are more vulnerable of infection of COVID 19, he narrated.
A father of two children from Khurai Thangjam Leikai , Imphal East said that her daughter who is now in class IV has started her normal physical class smoothly for the last four month with improvement as compared to the on-line classes for the last two years. He is so disappointed about the rapid surge of COVID 19 cases in Manipur which resulted in closure of schools. The Government’s decision on closure of schools is a well timed action to control the spread of this disease in the state. His five years son was not admitted to school this year as he had a suspicion of emerging the fourth wave of COVID 19. Instead of sending his son at schools he started teaching him at home. He appealed the concerned authority regarding the opening of coaching and tution centres where there are chances of spreading the disease with maximum number of students without fully COVID 19 vaccination.
A headmaster of a Government Junior School of Imphal West expressed that the COVID 19 pandemic have affected the education sector drastically. During the last two year pandemic it is a big challenge for a headmaster to manage the educational activities. As all the students were not able to possess smart phones, it was not possible to conduct online classes. During the high surge of the COVID cases it was not possible to have a home visit and teach the students, but they tried their best level delivering the mid day meal food items and notebooks with written questions and answers by the subject teachers. As compared to the private schools, the numbers of enrollment of students in junior government schools are still less in number. In this regard the concerned authorities need to take a more comprehensive mechanism for a better education system which will also help to solve the problem of school drop out in the state. She appealed the parents to avail the facilities of free and compulsory to their children provided by the government. Regarding the Government’s recent decision on closure of all schools, she said that it is a good initiative to control the spread of this disease among the school going children.
The 75 day COVID vaccination Amrit Mahotsava have started from 15th July, 2022 providing free precaution doses for people aged between 18 and 59 years of the country at various vaccination centres. Union Health Ministry said, this special COVID vaccination drive is a part of the celebration of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya urged all eligible adult population to get their precaution dose. He said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is committed in creating a Healthy and Safe India. The centre has urged all states and union territories to implement COVID Vaccination as Jan Abhiyan with massive mass mobilization, through a camp approach at big office complexes, industrial establishments, railway stations, inter state bus stations, schools and colleges. Manipur Chief Minister, N. Biren Singh has launched the COVID vaccine Amrit Mahotsava- Jan Abiyaan at Imphal on Friday. The vaccination drive is also taking places at all the districts of the State. Vaccination and maintaining COVID 19 protocol are the only ways to prevent the disease. Every one of us is responsible to make a COVID free and a healthy national. Let’s take the pledge to make a COVID free world so that we can relive from all the unprecedented pains and suffering created by COVID 19.