Education and the Covid-19 Vaccination
Educational institutions were forced to shut even before the nationwide lockdown was imposed nearly two years ago due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as people were concerned about the health of children. The concern was genuine and the government promptly responded by stopping offline classes. Since then, it has been “online again, offline again” for students as the mode of learning keeps shifting with the change of Covid wave. The disruption in education sector has turned into a matter of worry over time as the effect of years of learning loss on students became visible. One classic example in Nagaland was students demanding the authorities to conduct examinations in online mode even when the pandemic situation was stable. Virtual learning may not be as effective as many thought, though that was the only option available in the midst of the pandemic. And it’s a different story all together for students who can’t buy gadgets to access online classes and those from remote areas with no internet connectivity. Considering these limitations, the frustration of students and parents is understandable. However, for students to get back to classrooms, certain measures should be put in place to ensure the safety of all children. Owing to this, several states have started Covid vaccination drive in schools after the government of India launched the vaccine for children in the age group of 15 to 18 years earlier this month. The Central Board of Secondary Education has also asked all schools affiliated to it to get students vaccinated at the earliest as per the Centre’s guidelines.
The urgency to get students vaccinated may have been triggered by the third wave sparked by the Omicron variant, but at the same time, the only option at disposal for returning to normalcy is vaccination and adhering to Covid-appropriate behaviour. This has prompted several states to make vaccination mandatory for students to attend classes in person. Nagaland government too has issued a directive stating that students studying in Class 9 and above, who have completed 15 years of age, should take at least first dose of Covid vaccine to attend offline classes. However, some student unions have criticised this move, likening it to “forcible vaccination”. Well, nobody, be it students or the general public, should be forced to take Covid vaccine or any other vaccine. The concern of the student community is understandable with children missing out on education for far too long. However, safety of children cannot be compromised. Health experts and statistics have attributed the significant dip in hospitalisation and deaths in the third wave to vaccination. Students should be encouraged to take the jab so that educational institutions can return to some semblance of normality for the betterment of all.