Schools in Nepal demand reopening as virus cases drop

Schools in Nepal are asking the government to open physical classrooms which have been closed for weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases began to decline

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Schools across Nepal on Sunday demanded the government open physical classes that have been closed for weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases began to decline.

Teachers say online education was restricted to only a small portion of the population living in urban areas of the Himalayan country, while a majority of students were deprived of their chance to learn.

The number of coronavirus cases powered by the omicron variant has peaked in recent weeks but has declined in recent days.

“We are ready to open schools, students are eager to return, guardians are ready to send their children and the number of virus cases is down, so there is no reason for the government to maintain the ban on schools,” said Tika Ram Puri, chairman of the Organization of Private Schools and Boarding Schools of Nepal.

Puri said he wants schools to reopen next week.

“The level of education is deteriorating and students are getting the wrong idea of ​​education in the country because of long and frequent school closures,” said high school science teacher Sangina Gomja. “Students in the villages don’t have much education in the last two years.

Students from across Nepal lined up to pray at the temple of a Hindu goddess on Sunday as the country celebrated the annual Basant Panchami festival that marks the arrival of spring.

Goddess Saraswati is considered the deity of wisdom, knowledge and learning. Pupils would normally celebrate the festival in their schools, but this year they were all at home.

“Schools should open soon because we students have so many problems like disruptive internet, power cuts, disturbances at home and we are not able to study properly,” said Rubita Karki, a 12th grade student. measures like mandatory face masks and the use of disinfectants.”

Some students were still worried.

Apsara Shrestha, a social work student, said coronavirus was still a concern and was against reopening schools. “What if the students get sick or even die?”

Nepal has fully vaccinated 52% of the population, including students and children aged 12 and above. It has reported more than one million confirmed coronavirus cases and 11,803 deaths since the pandemic began.

The government imposed tough restrictions last month as virus cases hit a record high. Schools were closed, citizens were ordered to carry their vaccination cards in public, religious holidays banned and theaters closed. Malls, markets and restaurants were only allowed to serve a small number of customers wearing masks. No date was given for the lifting of the restrictions.

The government has also restricted road traffic, with alternate day bans for vehicles with odd or even license plates.

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