Re-opening the schools is dangerous

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo has said that she is not comfortable with the idea of reopening the schools. This is a serious message because Covid-19 is a major threat still.

Elsewhere some governments took the risks and reopened the schools. Health protocols such as physical distancing and rigorous sanitisation were followed, but it was found that the decision to reopen schools is not safe.

It is interesting that debates are happening among Bhutanese parents, teachers and policymakers. Some are for reopening the schools; others are resolutely against it. Such debates must happen, but we can ill afford to lose the real perspective.

For one, private schools have the reasons to complain. It is even legitimate looking from their vantage point. They have invested millions and continue to pay the teacher even as the schools have been asked to pull the shutters down until further notice.

But there are also teachers and administrators from the government schools who are of the view that reopening the schools is the most sensible decision. They are wrong. It is a dangerous bet.

Covid-19 cases in the country are rising. As we continue to bring our people home, the number of positive cases will only increase.  Fortunately, we haven’t a single local case yet. But we cannot take things for granted. The danger is at the door.

A single local case could put us in serious trouble.

The decision to reopen the schools is absurd and it should be nipped in the bud. Absurdity should have no space in the time such as we are living today.

Disruptions will be there across the sectors. We have many and it will only grow what with people not adhering to health protocols and the individuals crossing the borders even as border shutdown is implemented seriously.

Selfish thoughts, especially today as the country is going through a difficult time, must not find space in the Bhutanese hearts. In fact, we should draw lessons from small farmers who are contributing to the greater national cause; teachers delivering SIM lessons; doctors and health professionals sacrificing their comfort; and businesses making service delivery easier.

After Covid-19, the world is going to be different. This way the pandemic is an opportunity. What we need is an understanding that together as a nation we can fight any challenge, big or small.

The pandemic has affected the entire nation, not just select individuals and institutions. The true Bhutanese strength should come from the willingness to fight the danger together. We are doing well, but we could together do a lot more to keep our people safe.

The government, led by the prime minister, should not give in to unreasonable demands from the people from various sectors.

Re-opening schools is dangerous.

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