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School reopening this week seems risky

Published : 12 May 2020, 10:59

Updated : 13 May 2020, 23:40

  DF Report by Gishnizjani Golnar

University of Lapland’s teachers training school Principal Heikki Ervast.

Finland’s schools will cautiously reopen from 14 May after their general closure across the country since March 18 to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

This controversial decision has caused concern among families and school authorities amidst the coronavirus infections.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin has declared that classrooms will not be allowed to continue online education and students do not have the permission to stay at home without special reasons, reports the national broadcaster Yle.

On this issue, Kalle Saksela, a professor of virology at the University of Helsinki told Yle that in the beginning, scientists who are expert on coronavirus had assumed that COVID-19 is not a big threat for children. Since then the behaviour of the virus around the world has demonstrated that it is not an accurate hypothesis. However, Saksela said reopening schools alone cannot be the cause of a second wave of the disease.

According to the Yle report, in defence of this decision, Chief Specialist and Team Leader at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) Jussi Sane explained that Finland did not have any kid with severe symptoms or in a critical situation requiring hospitalisation. Furthermore, some studies showed that the rate of transmission of the virus from kids seemed to be lower than that from adults.

Indeed, “The health authorities have estimated that reopening of the schools does not cause any health risks. The decision of reopening the schools is acceptable, but the following rules were contradictory. We were told that there are no health risks, but we have to act in practice like there were risks. This causes a few worries. Due to that, the best advice is to not to discard with social distancing and hands hygiene at school” University of Lapland’s teachers training school Principal Heikki Ervast told the Daily Finland.

According to the Yle report, Education Minister Li Andersson announced new regulations for schools to be enforced as soon as schools reopen. She declared that students should be kept away from unnecessary and close physical contacts, the number of students’ gatherings should be decreased, students, teachers, and others at schools must try not to move around schools frequently, and that having parties or traditional year- end festival is prohibited.

Although different segments of the society cannot be closed forever, it should be noted that current researchers have indicated SRAS-COV-2 can be connected to other diseases in children. After three deaths and detection of more than 93 COVID-19 cases in New York, The Guardian has reported that there might be a link between COVID-19 and severe forms of Kawasaki disease. The UK, France, Italy, and Spain all have witnessed similar cases, said the Euronews. Moreover, the number of people infected with coronavirus has risen after two weeks of school reopening.

There is no doubt that the novel coronavirus is still an unknown phenomenon to science and scholars can hardly predict the genetic behaviour of the virus. However, it seems testing the effects of relaxing coronavirus restrictions on children who are in constant contact with others is not the best idea. In this situation, parents and school authorities must remind kids to wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizer, keep physical distance from others and surfaces must be disinfected regularly as well to minimise the risk of a second wave and spread of the virus.