15:14 GMT16 April 2021
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    The Indian Education and Home Ministries have said that students will not be forced to attend classes in school. The guidelines issued on the reopening of schools say, "Attendance must not be enforced, and must depend entirely on parental consent. Those who choose not to go back to school can attend classes online".

    With an overwhelming surge in COVID cases over the past week, an online survey conducted by a non-governmental online platform, "Localcircles", has thrown up results showing that ahead of the new academic session scheduled to start in April, only 25% of parents would be willing to send their children to schools. 

    The concerns plaguing parents regarding their children's safety have been fuelled by reports from Bengaluru in Karnataka which reported nearly 500 children under the age of 10 testing positive for COVID in March. 

    The survey released on Wednesday, received responses from more than 18,000 parents located in 272 districts in India, with 44% located in metro areas. A high number of parents (58%) said "No" to the question about whether they would send their children back to the classroom if the government reopened schools for the next academic term. Only 25% of parents said "Yes". 

    The daily COVID-19 caseload in India has again crossed the 65,000 mark, with Maharashtra reporting over 40,000 cases per day.

    The findings of the poll indicated that 73% of parents want schools to be open as long as there are less than 100 active COVID cases in their district.

    The survey highlighted the state of Punjab has confirmed that genome testing done in the area found 81% of the samples tested to be positive with the UK variant of SARS-COV2 which is known for its high transmission rate among children. This requires greater caution in handling the pandemic than before. 

    The default option for schools should be closure from April-June, said the survey, whose results have been shared with all state governments as citizen feedback. 


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