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Health experts warn of re-closing schools

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Health experts have warned that schools will have to be closed once again if the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases reported in the country is not brought under control.

Addressing a media briefing yesterday (17), Dr. Deepal Perera of the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH), Colombo, stated: “Currently, there is an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases across the country. Therefore, Covid-19 infections are also more prevalent among children, and this may lead to a closure of schools again.”

He added that therefore, adults should work to reduce the spread of Covid-19, stating: “As adults, we are the ones who carry Covid-19 to children, so adults need to follow health guidelines to control the disease.”

Meanwhile, speaking at a media briefing held yesterday, Health Ministry Communications Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General (DDG), and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath also stated that there have been reports of schoolchildren and staff being infected with Covid-19 in several provinces. He added that if the number of such cases increased further, schools would have to be closed first.

Schools islandwide had been closed for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation and the lockdown status imposed in the country. However, the Education Ministry took steps to open schools in a few stages after the Government decided to lift the lockdown on 1 October 2021. Accordingly, the Education Ministry took steps to reopen a total of 3,000 schools from 21 October, under the programme to reopen primary sections in schools coming under the purview of provincial councils (PCs) and with less than 200 students. In addition, primary sections of all schools in the country were reopened from 25 October, while classes of Grades 10 and 11 (General Certificate of Education [GCE] Ordinary Level [O/L]), and 12 and 13 (GCE Advanced Level [A/L]) were reopened on 8 November. Furthermore, the Education Ministry has decided to reopen all the remaining Grades (Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine) in government and semi-government schools islandwide on 22 November.