One year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic had first terrorised the world, causing the health crisis of unprecedented proportions. As people’s mobility came to a standstill owing to the lockdowns and other restrictive measures, the economic, educational and psychological shocks gripped the people across the world. This has fanned a feeling gloom with the 1.77 million deaths and 126 million infections recorded to date. Sad to say, the deadly virus has shown no sign of abating. However, there is a ray of hope that anti-COVID-19 vaccines developed by a string of companies will get rid the globe of the killer virus in a foreseeable future. The invention of the vaccines within a short span of time is a scientific feat but the emergence of new mutant of virus has again worried the people especially in Western nations. In Nepal, the virus threat had subsided dramatically but of late it has again shown the sign of resurgence much to the dismay of the people who have already accustomed to a life of new normal.
The education sector is one that was hit hardest owing to the coronavirus pandemic. For almost a year, schools and colleges were shut down, with the students attending online classes. Though the digital teaching and learning activity was a good option for the students in the time of such a public health crisis, this can hardly substitute the brick-and-mortar education where face-to-face interactions between teachers and students yield productive outcome. After months of uncertainty and trauma, schools and colleges were allowed to conduct the in-person classes from the second week of January but they are again on the horns of dilemma as the government instructed all education institutions to carry out their academic activities by complying with government-approved safety measures. They are advised to avoid crowds and strictly observe health and safety protocols.
This was certainly a matter of confusion as the in-person classes obviously create crowds in the rooms. The schools are set to hold final examinations in two months and it is impossible for them to conduct examinations by strictly following ‘no gathering rule’. However, according to the news report of this daily, health experts have held optimistic views and asked all not to panic as people had already overcome the first wave of the pandemic and they would be able to deal with new virus threat with new knowledge of disease and mass vaccination drive. One physician suggested that all teaching and non-teaching staff should be vaccinated to keep the virus at bay.
Another public health expert suggested running online and offline classes simultaneously. Schools can also run classes in multiple shifts in line with the ‘School Operating Framework, 2077’ so that all students should not appear in rooms together. The integration of technology into the entire education system will ease the problems to a great extent. Students should be given options whether they want to appear in class rooms or learn from home in case the situation gets worse. As educational institutions are at high risk of virus transmission, they have no option but to adopt precautions at the time of virus upsurge. They need to apply practical insight to fulfill their responsibility of conducting classes and examinations while fighting the pandemic.