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Schools seek ministries’ advice over coronavirus

Many teachers and students are staying home because they fear becoming infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, educationists said here Monday.
Padma Hariharan, director and head of the Novel International Group of Institutions, said the Ministries of Health and Education must provide advice on how to deal with the situation because it is affecting teaching at several schools in the city.
“The situation is becoming bad because of the fear of the disease. Between 30 and 40 percent of teachers and students are not showing up at schools, especially kindergarten children. We also tell them to stay at home even if they have normal flu symptoms or a cough. Under such circumstances it would be better for the Ministries of Health and Education to advise schools,” she said.
Hariharan said school administrations have been taking precautions and reassured parents that there have been no MERS cases among students and teachers. However, many parents are still not sending their children to school.
Sadia Kaleem, the principal of Al-Hukma International School, said it was not a good idea to close schools at this stage because of the impending final examinations, but urged the two ministries to provide advice on the way forward.
“While our students have not stayed home, several doctors who are parents have asked us to hold examinations earlier. They want to send their children out of the country because they are afraid that they might become infected," she said.
She said the situation was clear and the ministries could take better decisions.
Earlier, Abdullah Al-Thaqafi, director of education in Jeddah, said that there have been no recorded cases of coronavirus at local schools. The department has also not closed any school yet.
However, if there are any cases found the department would start closing schools. He said the department would send doctors to schools as part of its awareness campaign.

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