NEW DELHI: The Union education ministry has paved the way for re-opening of schools from October 15 under Unlock 5.0, but most states are not willing to throw the school gates open yet. While some states are still deliberating on when to open schools, many are waiting for the festival season to get over even as parents in most states are not willing to send their children to school.
Hectic consultations are on within various government departments in the states, with many even taking up the issue in their cabinet meetings. Meetings are also on with stakeholders, especially parents. Many states have set up panels to review the situation.
Haryana has already opened all government schools and UP and Uttarakhand are ready to open up schools from the third week of October. UP will do so in a phased manner with classes from IX to XII opening from October 19. But attendance will not be compulsory as students will have the option to continue with online classes.
In West Bengal, CM Mamata Banerjee has hinted at a likely opening after Diwali. Maharashtra, in a recent cabinet meeting, decided to take a call once Diwali is over. Gujarat will also wait for Diwali. While Odisha and Assam have decided not to open schools till Durga Puja is over and Andhra Pradesh has set a tentative date of November 2, states like Delhi, Goa, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu are yet undecided.
Many states feel the need to open schools was to ensure students with limited or no internet access don’t get left out.
While Assam principal secretary, education, B Kalyan Chakarvarthy felt that “offline classes are must so that students who do not have access to online facilities are not left behind,” director of school education of Chandigarh Rubinderjit Singh Brar said: “Lack of gadgets and internet facilities was the reason behind initiating reopening of schools.”
When students get back to school, life would not be the same again with state governments ensuring safety measures through elaborate SOPs. In UP’s capital Lucknow, the district magistrate has asked schools to keep an infirmary ready with two beds, oxygen cylinders and a nurse at hand. Air-conditioners will not be used in classrooms, outdoor games have been barred and no tiffin boxes would be allowed. In MP, all school buses and vans will be sanitised.
Most states may not have decided on a date yet, but all agree to following SOPs drawn up by the Centre.
All state governments agree on continuing online classes, even after students —whose parents give consent — begin to attend schools.