Wednesday (September 1) was a big day for school managements and students as several states across the country opened school gates for children amid fear of an impending third wave.
A total of five states and union territories reopened schools on Wednesday. All states have made it mandatory for school managements to follow multiple rules which include alternate day classes, staggered lunch breaks and limited seating capacity in classes among other precautions for the safety of children.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the Centre is in touch with respective states and is paying attention to prioritising vaccination for teaching and non-teaching staff.
Reopening of schools was felt essential because students, mainly from the lower-income strata, have suffered heavy learning losses because their parents could not afford online education.
Here’s a quick look at states and their plans to reopen schools:
Tamil Nadu: Schools for classes 9 to 12 and colleges reopened on Wednesday as planned. Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said that looking at the grave COVID situation in Kerala, the government has made it mandatory for students coming from that state to produce complete vaccination reports and RT-PCR test results to be able to attend physical classes.
The Stalin government has allowed opening of hostels for students and working personnel, following necessary COVID-19 protocols. The staff at schools, colleges and hostels need to be completely vaccinated and the responsibility to ensure that lies with the respective managements.
Karnataka: The state has decided to resume physical classes for 6th to 8th from September 6 in areas where COVID positivity rate is less than 2%.
Schools are allowed to accommodate 50% of the class strength, which means students will be required to attend classes on alternate days.
The state administration took the decision after receiving a good response to the resumption of classes 9 to 12 recently. No case of infection in schools has been received to date.
Kerala: The state worst affected by COVID has not taken any decision yet. The state government said it will reopen schools in a phased manner after getting the Centre’s nod, Education Minister V Shivakutty told the assembly a few days ago.
Schools will start once phase-wise vaccination is completed, Shivakutty said. The state reported more than 30,000 cases on Tuesday (August 31).
Telangana: The Telangana government’s decision to reopen schools from September 1 got a setback when the Telangana High Court declared on Tuesday (August 31) that physical classes are not compulsory.
The HC sought a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) from the state government before allowing physical classes to begin. The state has to file a detailed report by October 4 on steps it has taken for the safe reopening of schools.
Maharashtra: Being one of the worst-hit states, Maharashtra has delayed the reopening of schools to a later date.
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said recently that the state aims to fully vaccinate all teaching and non-teaching staff by September 5. He said the state COVID task force is open to the idea of reopening schools completely in districts with no positive case at present, but said a final decision in this regard will be taken after due consideration because of the upcoming festival season and sudden spike in Kerala, which recorded over 30,000 cases on a single day after Onam celebrations.
On Wednesday (September 1), 22 people, including students, tested positive for COVID-19 at St Joseph School in Mumbai.
Two days back, 18 from a children’s home in Mankhurd, a Mumbai suburb, had tested positive for COVID.
Delhi: The national capital reopened its schools on Wednesday after nearly 19 months of closure and a scary second wave that shook the city.
Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister, Manish Sisodia, told News18.com that they could not wait “for a zero case day”. “We had to estimate the quantum of loss borne by the students due to schools being shut on the account of Corona and definitely, there has been a huge loss. One entire generation has been left behind. We have to make up for that loss and move forward,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh: The Yogi Adityanath government has told children to get consent forms signed by parents before entering classes. The consent form is meant to free schools of any liabilities in case the child or his/her family gets infected from coronavirus.
On September 1, primary classes resumed with thin attendance. A teacher said that parents still prefer online classes, fearing for the safety of their children.
Classes from 9 to 12 and 6 to 8 had started from August 16 and 24 respectively.
Madhya Pradesh: Schools reopened for classes 6 to 8 on Wednesday. The state gave permission to over 2,000 schools to resume classes. The state has made it mandatory not to accommodate more than 20 students per room. Sanitising the classrooms is mandatory and social distancing norms are to be followed to the hilt, read a government notification.
Rajasthan: Schools have opened for classes 9 to 12 with 50,000 students likely to attend physical classes every day. Rajasthan Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasara said that schools have been asked to follow all COVID-19 guidelines without fail. The government has already issued SOPs to schools.
West Bengal: The Mamata Banerjee government declared on Wednesday (September 1) that schools will reopen after the Durga puja. The state administration is still studying the COVID-19 situation and has delayed its decision to start physical classes.