Centre to allow partial reopening of schools in some States

New Delhi, Sep 21-2020: Some States have allowed schools to reopen partially from Monday after a gap of more than five months as the coronavirus pandemic forced authorities to shut educational institutes across the country to contain the spread of the viral disease. The Centre had allowed the partial reopening of schools in the fourth phase of the Unlock process and said that students of Classes 9 and 12 can return purely on a voluntary basis.

The Government also made it clear that it is not mandatory for educational institutions to resume schools from Monday. The Government had asked the States to take the final call on resuming classes amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Centre has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for a partial reopening of schools for students of Classes 9 to 12.

Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal have announced that they will not allow classes to resume from Monday. Bihar’s Education Department will hold a meeting on Tuesday to take a decision on reopening schools in the State.

A proper guideline will be issued after consulting stakeholders for ensuring safety of children at schools, a senior official said.

Here’s what States have decided on reopening of schools from Monday:

Andhra Pradesh: Schools in Andhra Pradesh are set to resume normal classes from Monday for students of Classes 9 to 12. Authorities have issued guidelines and students living outside containment zones will be allowed to visit their schools on a voluntary basis to clear their doubts and take guidance from their teachers. They would have to submit a written consent of their parents and guardians to their respective schools.

Assam: High and Higher Secondary Schools in Assam are set to reopen from Monday and will have to follow SOPs issued by the Secondary Education Department to maintain social distancing norms and other precautionary measures against the viral outbreak. From Monday, classes will resume for students between grade 9 and 12 for the next 15 days following which the situation will be reviewed.

While all Government schools will start functioning, private school authorities have been asked to take a call on their own. Students’ attendance in schools is not mandatory. Parents and guardians need to give their consent in writing following which students will be allowed to attend classes.

Delhi: All schools in the Capital will continue to remain closed till October 5 in view of the rising number of the cases, the Delhi Government has said. It had said earlier that it would allow senior students to come to schools if they need any guidance from their teachers. But now the Government has made it clear that there will be no partial reopening of the schools — not for any student.

“All Government and private schools will remain closed for all students until October 5. However, online teaching and learning activities will continue as usual,” an official order issued by the Directorate of Education (DoE) said. School Principals are authorised to call “staff as per requirement for smooth conduct of online classes or any other work”, it said.

Haryana: The Directorate of School Education has directed all district education officers to ensure that SOPs are in place for the partial reopening of schools for students of Classes 9 to 12 from Monday. In a letter, the department has asked all District Education Officers to ensure that the teachers get a Covid-19 test and download the Aarogya Setu app on their phones. Attendance is not compulsory and students can go on a voluntary basis to clear any doubts related to their course.

“Students will have to bring written consent from their parents before coming to school. The students will also have to undergo thermal scanning before entering the school and wear face masks and adhere to safety guidelines,” the letter stated.

Earlier, the Education Department had conducted trial classes for board students at Government Senior Secondary School, Nigdhu, in Karnal and Bazidpur Saboli in Sonepat to check the feasibility of partial reopening of schools.

Jammu and Kashmir: Schools will reopen in the Union Territory, however, attendance of students will be on a voluntary basis. Officials have said schools will reopen with 50% attendance of staff and students and the attendance of the students will be as per the written consent of the parents. The officials have also stated that all the SOPs will be in place when the schools reopen after such a long gap.

Only 50% of the staff will report every day until Class 8 and students of classes 9, 10, 11, and 12 can come to school on a voluntary basis with 50% attendance. Officials have said parents can decide whether they will allow their children to attend the classes. The authorities have further stated that online classes and digital education activities will continue as usual.

Karnataka: The State Government has prohibited students of Class 9 to 12 from visiting schools and pre-university colleges to meet teachers amid the coronavirus pandemic. It said in a statement that students were earlier allowed by the Education Department after Covid-19 cases in the State had come down. However, as the pandemic continues to rage the State, the State Government felt it was not safe to call students to colleges or schools to meet teachers, it said.

Punjab: The Punjab Government has allowed the opening of higher education institutions from September 21 for PhD scholars and postgraduate students pursuing technical and professional courses requiring experimental work. However, schools, colleges and coaching centres will remain closed in the State. The guidelines were issued in compliance with the directives of the current phase of the coronavirus lockdown issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. As per the orders, online distance learning will be permitted and encouraged but schools, colleges and coaching institutions will remain closed for students and regular classes.

Satish Chandra, Special Chief Secretary (Home), in an official statement, said 50 per cent of the teaching and non-teaching staff will be allowed to attend schools at a time for online teaching/telecounselling and related work in areas outside the containment zones, only as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued on September 8 by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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