Omicron and children: which schools and universities are switching to distance learning

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Omicron and children: which schools and universities are switching to distance learning
Omicron and children: which schools and universities are switching to distance learning
28 January, 16:13Society
The main question that parents are asking today is the transfer of schoolchildren to distance learning. "NI" understood how the situation is developing in various regions of Russia and what prospects await students in connection with a surge in the incidence.

Irina Mishina

Protests against distance learning: yesterday and today

Everyone remembers the mass protests of parents in connection with the transfer of schoolchildren to distance learning in the spring of 2020. The protests were most active then in Moscow. Within a month, several rallies were held in the capital and a public movement emerged, bringing together more than 20,000 like-minded people. The usual complaints about the deteriorating health of children and claims about the quality of online education have been joined by rumors in the spirit of conspiracy theories. Many parents were sure: distance education is forever, it is an invention of the world behind the scenes and German Gref. Various petitions against the digitalization of education were then signed by hundreds of thousands of people.

But the students returned to class. True, their holidays were extended several times, in connection with which another wave of parental indignation passed. Is the introduction of remote control justified now? With this question, we turned to the pediatrician, infectious disease specialist, head of the medical center "Leader Medicine" Yevgeny Timakov.

Omicron devastated schools: less than half of the students in the classrooms

“Now it is pointless to transfer schoolchildren to distance learning: everyone is already sick. The transition to remote control will no longer affect the epidemiological situation. But there are many sick children, in some classes only half of the students are present. Now the distance would be logical only from the point of view of not interrupting the educational process, because the number of cases is significant. It would have been logical to transfer schools to distance learning after the New Year in order to curb the increase in the incidence, but studies were continued in person. It is worth noting that today children are the main carriers of the disease", - pediatrician, infectious disease specialist Yevgeny Timakov told NI.

Meanwhile, the regions nevertheless began to transfer schoolchildren to distance learning. According to the Ministry of Education, on January 27, 69 schools were completely closed for visiting. On January 24, there were only 27 of them, that is, in two or three days the number of people transferred to remote control in Russia almost tripled. In just one day (from January 25 to January 26), the share of secondary educational institutions that went into quarantine increased from 0.28 to 0.42%, ”the sources report, citing the Ministry of Education. It is reported that the peak incidence of COVID-19 will come in the next few weeks. In this regard, in many Russian regions, they decided to send children to a distance learning format in advance. Here is the situation in the country.

Eagle. From January 26 to January 29, all Oryol schools are closed for in-person visits. At the same time, all organizations of additional education, as well as general education organizations subordinate to the regional department of education, were closed.

Elista. In Kalmykia, since January 25, all general education organizations have been sent to remote work. This was reported on the website of the head of the republic, Batu Khasikov.

North Ossetia. Since January 25, all schools in North Ossetia have been transferred to home schooling, and universities have been recommended to switch to an online format. In addition, the work of institutions of additional education and sports schools was temporarily suspended in the region.

Pskov region. From January 27 to February 6, schools and institutions of additional education in Pskov and the Pskov region went to the distance. This order was given by the Governor of the region Mikhail Vedernikov.

Nenets Autonomous Okrug. All territories of the Far North have switched to a remote learning format. “The educational process in schools, organizations of secondary vocational and additional education from January 27 to February 3 will be held remotely,” the administration’s website reports.

Khabarovsk. The publication DVHAB.ru reported that several dozen classes in Khabarovsk schools were quarantined due to SARS. Two more educational institutions, due to the large number of infections among children, completely stopped in-person classes until February 1. As of January 28, 88 classes and 3 schools have already been quarantined.

It is noted that in other regions of Russia, the scale of transferring children to distance learning is still less significant in scale. For example, in the Nizhny Novgorod region, 11 educational institutions were closed due to unfavorable epidemiological conditions. As of January 25, there were no schools closed for quarantine due to COVID-19 in the Krasnodar Territory. Temporarily went home 243 classes in 127 schools, as well as 22 groups in seven professional educational organizations in the region. Russian Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov said at a plenary meeting of the Congress of Commissioners for Children's Rights that distance learning can be introduced only if necessary, for example, during a surge in the incidence of COVID-19.

NI turned to the Department of Education and Science of Moscow with a question about the prospects and the possibility of transferring schoolchildren to distance learning. Here is the response we received:

“Distance learning in Moscow educational organizations is an extreme measure that we were forced to introduce when the healthcare system was under heavy pressure. To date, the capacity and bed reserve of the healthcare system for the treatment of patients with coronavirus is sufficient”.

However, the pediatrician, infectious disease specialist Yevgeny Timakov clarified in this regard: “There are more children in hospitals than in the previous wave, now there is talk about additional capacities, in particular, about opening a children’s department at the infectious diseases hospital in Kommunarka.”

How will the situation develop further

Will vaccinating children and teens help turn the tide of the rising morbidity? When will the epidemic end?

“I have not yet found processed statistical data on trials of the Sputnik vaccine on teenagers. There were preliminary data when entering the third phase of the trial, about 100 children took part in them. Judging by the information reports, the subjects had no negative side reactions. There are no specific drugs to block the Omicron strain. In the treatment of children, immunostimulating drugs such as Favipiravir are not used, only by decision of the council, in case of severe disease. When will the incidence among children start to decline? I think the country - in 3-4 weeks. In Moscow, there should be a recession in early February ”, - the pediatrician, infectious disease specialist Yevgeny Timakov told NI.

The press service of the Ministry of Education and Science said that about 10% of universities in Russia now work remotely , almost 90% use a blended learning format.

The Kremlin commented on the situation evasively. Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov said that the issue of transferring schoolchildren and students to distance learning due to a new wave of coronavirus is within the competence of the infection control headquarters, but there are no such plans yet.

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