Reopening of schools: Seniors classes may resume from Sep 1, others to follow

The modalities of the plan have been discussed by the group of secretaries attached to the Group of Ministers on Covid-19 management, headed by health minister Harsh Vardhan.

NEW DELHI: The Centre has framed a plan to re-open schools and other educational institutions in a phase-wise manner beginning from September 1 till November 14.

The modalities of the plan have been discussed by the group of secretaries attached to the Group of Ministers on Covid-19 management, headed by health minister Harsh Vardhan. The decision is likely to be notified as part of the final unlock guidelines to be issued later this month which would guide the states on unlocking the remaining activities after August 31. Sources said the final decision would be left to the state governments on how and when to bring back students to the classrooms.

Broad SOPs would be issued for schools and educational institutions. This follows a quick survey conducted earlier in July by the department of school education. Though the survey had indicated that parents are not in favour of sending their children to schools, the state governments have argued before the Centre that students of economically weaker sections are suffering.


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A senior official, who was part of the discussions, said, “The state, where case loads have been low, have also expressed their keenness to bring back students of senior classes.”

The guidelines, which have been vetted by the ministry of human resource development and the health ministry, recommend the opening of schools and running them in a phased manner. For the first 15 days, students of Class 10 to 12 would be asked to attend school. Different sections of a class would get particular days to attend school.
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In a school, if Class 10 has four sections, half the students of sections A and C would come on particular days and the remaining on the other days. The number of hours would be restricted from 5-6 to 2-3 hours of physical attendance. All schools are likely to run in shifts –– 8 am to 11 am and 12 to 3 pm with a one-hour break in between for sanitisation. The schools would be advised to run on 33% capacity of teaching staff and students.

The discussions within the group of secretaries reveal that the government is not in favour of calling pre-primary or primary school students to school and continue with online classes. After the introduction of physical classes for Class 10 to 12, the schools would be advised to start physical schooling with restricted hours for Class 6 to 9. If a school has multiple wings, the classes would be spread out and the schools would be advised to use the primary section to spread out senior students. “We have studied the way countries like Switzerland have brought back children to school safely. A similar model would be employed in India,” the official said.

North Eastern states, the hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the UTs may be in a position to reopen schools and educational institutions. Sources indicated that the Centre would recommend it and state govs may take a final decision seeing the coronavirus caseload and the popular opinion of school managements and parents.
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