Private and Boarding Schools’ Organisation-Nepal (PABSON), an umbrella organisation of private schools, has urged the government not to close schools in the wake of a second wave of COVID-19 surge.

On April 9, the Ministry of Health and Population had recommended to the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) to shut schools keeping in mind the risk of the virus’s spread.

The Ministry had also urged CCMC to manage online classes instead of physical classes.

Issuing an 11-point public health safety protocol the following day, CCMC had proposed to authorise all 77 districts to close schools as they saw fit.

Educational institutions were one of the hardest hit sectors due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown as they remained closed for nearly a year, shutting down in March and reopening in December, 2020.

PABSON has emphasised the geographical terrain of the country, Nepali guardians’ economic condition, lack of internet facilities in some places, lack of tech-savvy teachers, among others reasons which make it impractical to effectively conduct online classes as recommended by the government.

It has insisted on following health safety protocols during physical classes instead of shutting down schools.

Meanwhile, 18 out of 303 people who tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday are under 18 years of age. Of the 337 people infected on Saturday, 27 were children.

Three children are currently being treated for COVID-19 related complications at the Kanti Children’s Hospital and four are admitted at the Armed Police Force Hospital, all of whom are kept in isolation with severe symptoms.

According to assistant spokesperson at the Ministry of Health Dr Sameer Kumar Adhikari, COVID-19 infection was also detected in children between two to three years of age on Sunday.

The rate of infected children increased from 8.39 percent on April 7 to 15.36 percent on April 8. On Sunday, 5.94 percent of the total infected were children.

Most of the infected children are from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur. Similarly, there are 13 children infected with COVID-19 in Provinces 1 and 2 each, and 166 in Bagmati.

As many as 55 children have been infected in Gandaki, 17 in Lumbini, three in Karnali and seven in the Far West.

As many as 303 new cases of coronavirus in the country, including 154 in Kathmandu valley, on Sunday. With this, Nepal’s COVID caseload has reached 280,028, including 274,027 recoveries, 2,961 active cases, and 3,040 deaths.