Govt schools in Kathmandu Valley ill-prepared to prevent spread of coronavirus

Published On: March 7, 2020 10:16 AM NPT By: Aditi Baral

KATHMANDU, March 7: While private boarding schools have already started adopting preventive measures to tackle the possible spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), it has been found that most government-owned schools have failed to take any precautionary measure to contain the possible spread of this fatal virus among students.

While some public schools cited the lack of availability of these materials in the market to make purchase, others said that their schools lack the necessary budget to adopt precautionary measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19, raising serious concerns about the spread of this epidemic among children. 

Principal at Chamunda Higher Secondary School in Jorpati—a public school-- said although they have not been able to provide sanitizers, soaps or masks to their students, they have raised necessary awareness among students about possible measures to contain the spread of the virus. “How are we supposed to facilitate our students with sanitation measures when there is an acute shortage of these things in the market?” he asked.

Principal from another government school in the Valley, Gandhi Adarsha Secondary School said that the school has not been able to provide any safety measures to its students as they need some external support to fund them. When asked what kind of support they were hoping for, he himself wasn't sure.

Most private schools, however, said that students were provided with proper sanitation measures – sanitizers, masks, among others – to prevent the possible spread of the new virus. “Students are obliged to wear face masks – it's compulsory. We have also installed liquid soaps and sanitizers in every washroom inside the school,” said Kalpana Satyal at Pathshala Nepal Foundation. “Apart from that, we have been providing necessary awareness about the spread and prevention of the virus to the students every now and then.”

A few other schools have even started using infrared thermometers to check the temperatures of students before letting them enter the school. Students of VS Niketan Higher Secondary School, for instance, are examined with the help of infrared thermometers by school security guards every morning before they are allowed to enter the school premises. “The security guards are taught to examine everyone who enters the school premises. If anyone is found with a higher body temperature, we immediately ask them to go for a checkup,” said Sangeeta Shrestha, principal of the school.

Shrestha further mentioned that the students are encouraged to wear face masks and carry hand sanitizers every time. “The school has also prioritized awareness drive as the safety and preventive measures against the virus are discussed in everyday assemblies and inside the classrooms,” she further said.

However, the officials at the education ministry explain that every school – private, boarding or government - has been instructed to provide necessary awareness drives and possible sanitary measures to its students. “All the schools have been directed and informed by the government to make their students aware about the safety and preventive measure of the virus. We have also asked schools to provide possible sanitary measures like hand sanitizers, liquid soaps and encouraging the use of face masks,” said spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Deepak Sharma. 

Sharma explained that the rumors about government instructing to pre-pone the dates of Secondary Education Examination (SEE), to avoid risk of transmission of Novel Coronavirus were untrue. “The dates for secondary education examinations will not be changed” he said.

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