States stay guarded, not in any hurry to reopen schools

Say they will review the situation towards the end of this month or in November before allowing schools to reopen; Centre has said they can start functioning from Oct 15

School
The Union Ministry of Education had said schools and other educational institutions outside containment zones can reopen in a graded manner from October 15. | Representative Photo: iStock

Most states have decided to wait for a while to see how the COVID-19 pandemic pans out before taking a decision on reopening schools after the Centre said they could start functioning from October 15.  

While the Delhi government has said it will maintain status quo for now, Maharashtra and Gujarat have said they will take a decision after Diwali.

In its guidelines released on October 5 as part of the Unlock 5 norms, the Union Ministry of Education had said that schools and other educational institutions outside containment zones could reopen in a graded manner from October 15.

It said states and Union Territories could come out with their own standard operating procedures on health, hygiene and safety for the functioning of schools. The Ministry said attendance will not be mandatory and that students could opt for online learning.

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The Delhi government said it will take a decision after reviewing the situation post October 31, a stand similar to that of Karnataka, which said it will evaluate all aspects before deciding whether to allow schools to reopen or not.

“We are not in a hurry to open schools. For us, the health and safety of our children is important,” Karnataka primary and secondary education minister S Suresh Kumar said.

Chhattisgarh, too, has said schools will remain shut for now.

Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat have said they will take a decision next month. While the southern state has said that schools will not be reopened at least till November 2, Mamata Banerjee’s government in West Bengal will take a decision only after mid-November.

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In Maharashtra, the government said schools will remain closed at least till Diwali, after which the situation will be reviewed. Diwali falls on November 16. 

“Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will take a decision after reviewing the situation post Diwali,” deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said. 

The Gujarat government may also allow schools to reopen only after Diwali. 

Madhya Pradesh, which has allowed classes to be conducted for students of classes 9 to 12, said it will not allow reopening of primary and middle schools now. The state’s education minister Inder Singh Parmar said opening primary and middle classes now would be very risky as the government will be blamed if a student contracts COVID-19.

The Uttar Pradesh government has allowed schools to reopen from October 19. It said students from classes 9 to 12 can be allowed to attend schools with the permission of parents. Schools will operate in shifts for various classes by adhering to all COVID guidelines, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said.

The Puducherry government, too, said only classes 9 to 12 will be held. The classes, in fact, began on October 8, but the government said attendance will not be mandatory.   

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In Meghalaya, schools will be opened for classes 6 to 8 to allow students to clear their study-related doubts. Education minister Lahkmen Rymbui said the state will seek the feedback of parents before taking a decision on complete reopening of schools.

Haryana, too, is thinking of allowing classes 6 to 9 to function. It has, however, not taken any decision.

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