A large number of urban migrants' kids are back in their villages and are virtually attending classes in their schools based in Kathmandu valley.

As the schools suspended their physical classes after the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19 last May, majority of urban migrant workers' children are engaged in distance learning.

The decision of Kathmandu Metropolitan City to run classes in person has confused large number of such parents.

"The kids are not inoculated against the COVID-19 pandemic while the Dashain festival is round the corner.

It is puzzling whether to bring the kids to Kathmandu for a week or miss their classes," Sarsowti Khada of Ramechhap told the RSS.

Yashoda Thapa of Basantapur said it would be easier to run online classes instead of having students' physical presence ahead of Dashain festival.

"The fear of coronavirus continues. Dashain is very close and the students have not received vaccine. There is no point in running classes physically just for a week," Thapa argued.

On September 23, Kathmandu Metropolitan City decided to run classes in person from September 26.

Schools with a large number of students are obliged to open the schools, it said.

KMC has assured stakeholders of arrangements for vaccination if the schoolteachers, officials and school drivers had missed inoculation.

However, majority of parents have put forth their concerns and are for reopening schools only after Tihar festival as most of the children are in the villages and the fear for COVID-19 is still on.

Assistant Spokesperson of Ministry of Health and Population Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari said, "Normally, the infection rate has decreased, but the risk is mounting due to carelessness of people.

Taking this situation into account, the schools should not be opened." He suggested that the local levels should take wise decision regarding the resumption of school in person only after mapping and analysing the risks at least up to Dashain. "Still, there is a need to place higher safety alerts as the risks of coronavirus infection are not less as anticipated," he added.

Chairperson of Federation of National Guardians, Suprabhat Bhandari commented that it was a hasty decision of the local levels to open schools with physical presence when the risks of the virus are still all-pervasive according to the health ministry. Citing the example that some schools of Kailali which took hasty decision to resume their operations some days ago have reverted their decisions of late, he warned the local levels to take responsibility for the consequences due to the reopening of schools amid high risk of virus infection in urban areas. "To ignore the statement of the health ministry is to invite further risks," he added.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 26 2021, of The Himalayan Times.