"Happiness doesn't come from doing what we like to do but from liking what we have to do." – Wilferd Peterson

Should schools reopen amid the pandemic?

Parents, teachers, school administrators, custodians and other support staff – and even students who are old enough to understand the risks of going back to school – are anguished about whether schools will reopen. They're also wondering what they'll do if they open or don't. Some families won't have a choice: Schools will reopen or they won't, and students will have to return or adapt to distance learning. Other schools will try hybrid plans where students spend some time physically in school and some time learning from home. Still others will give families the choice to send their children to school or to keep them at home. Everyone has their own opinions, and they're entitled to them, but there's no arguing with the fact that reopening schools this fall comes with gargantuan risks – not just to students, but to teachers, administrators, support staff and everyone's families. This is no decision to take lightly. I think, or hope, that everyone understands the primary risk of reopening schools during a global pandemic: An increase in the number of people infected and more people with life-threatening cases of Covid-19. The main risk would be that the children will contract Covid-19 more frequently in school, and that the teachers will be exposed to and could become infected as well. Aside from the risk of infected children potentially becoming very ill, which is fortunately a rare occurrence, there is also the risk to the children's families if the kids bring the virus home. Although, life is slowly going back to normal, there is still major concern about a possible spike in infection rates. Authorities shouldn’t make any hasty decision and consider all the pros and cons of the situation before reopening schools.

Zoha Rafiq,

More rains mean more mosquito-borne diseases

Heavy rains slammed Karachi last month, inundating many areas and stranding commuters around the city. It was the most rain the city had received in years. When it accumulates, rain water isn’t just water. It’s mixed with run-off, sewage, faecal matter, chemicals and a host of other substances. When it comes into contact with a source of water for human use, it renders it unsafe for drinking, befouls homes and generally macerates the landscape. It is chock full of viruses, bacteria, parasites and a variety of other pathogens that can cause viral, bacterial and fungal diseases. Heavy rains and floods wash off mosquitoes and their larvae, temporarily checking their breeding. But this state of affairs doesn’t last long: when flood waters recede, they leave behind puddles of putrid water stagnating all over the place, which are prime mosquito breeding grounds. Standing water facilitates rapid infection, especially of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya. And Karachi was already reeling from a dengue outbreak before the outbreak of coronavirus. Removing stagnant water in and around the houses and covering water tanks with proper lids will keep mosquitoes from returning to the water. Also, bed nets are effective in reducing the incidence of mosquitoes coming in contact with humans, thereby preventing mosquito borne diseases. Team of workers responsible for clearing the metropolitan water-drainage systems should be assigned to getting rid of such pools. What’s important is that people should come forward to improve sanitation and personal hygiene, and check mosquito-breeding spots in their living places. Prevention is far better than cure and we all should do our part in keeping our living spaces clean which will eventually result in a cleaner Karachi.

Sharmeen Patel,