States have been mulling over the decision to physically resume teaching and learning activities in educational institutions. Some states have announced the unlock plans as Covid cases continue to decrease.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, schools, colleges, and other educational institutions across the country have remained closed for a long period of time. While some states allowed educational institutions to re-open for brief periods of time in the previous year and earlier this year when the number of Covid-19 cases was low, the second wave of the pandemic prompted the closure of the same once again. The question of when schools, colleges, and other educational institutions will re-open has been on every student’s mind.
States have now been deliberating resuming teaching and learning activities in educational institutions:
The Maharashtra government has decided to reopen schools in areas where no active COVID-19 case has been reported in the last month. The schools have been allowed to resume offline classes for students of Classes 8 to 12 from July 15. Prior to the commencement of school, corona vaccination of all teachers and non-teaching staff in the respective schools will be done on priority.
“In areas where no corona patient has been found for the last one month and the gram panchayat may have unanimously decided to announce the village corona-free, offline schools will begin for classes 8-12 from July 15,” said Varsha Gaikwad, Maharashtra Education Minister.
In April, schools in Delhi were closed as early summer vacation was declared, due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools in the region resumed teaching activities from Monday, June 28, and a staggered three-stage approach is being implemented to ease students into the learning process. Till July 3, teachers will get in touch with students, prepare Whatsapp groups, and make lists of those students who have access to smartphones and the internet, and those who lack these facilities. Subsequently, till July 31, schools will work towards counselling students and revisiting their foundational learning. Worksheets, and/ or online classes will be used to assess the academic standing of students and to ease them into the learning process. From August 2, online classes will begin for classes 9 to 12.
Schools in Punjab had started offline classes for Classes 5 to 8 in January. However, not all students were in favour of such a decision and teachers had to conduct offline as well as online classes to accommodate those who did not wish to attend physical classes due to the pandemic. In May, Punjab State Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla announced summer vacations for all educational institutions in the state from May 24 to June 23. In June, the minister announced that physical offline classes for medical streams would commence from June 28.
The Haryana government on July 9 announced its decision that schools will reopen classes 9 to 12 from July 16 with social distancing. If the situation remains normal, then, schools will be reopened for other classes. While for classes 6 to 8 the schools will re-open from July 23. However, the online classes will continue and students who want to continue taking them will be allowed to do so. Students will be allowed to attend school only by receiving written permission from their parents. The schools for classes 1 to 5 will continue to stay closed and a decision regarding their reopening would be taken later.
Jammu and Kashmir
In April, all educational institutions in Jammu and Kashmir were closed due to a spike in Covid-19 cases. However, classes continued and were conducted online. Authorities announced summer vacations for all educational institutions in the summer zone of the Jammu division for 48 days, from June 8 to July 25. While a previous order stated that educational institutions must remain closed till June 30, the most recent order from authorities extended the closure till July 15, in view of the pandemic.
The Telangana government had previously announced vacations for educational institutions till June 20. There were deliberations on the status of educational institutions and whether offline classes may be resumed for students. However, not all stakeholders were in consensus with physical classes being started for students, in view of the pandemic. On June 29, the government announced that schools, degree colleges and technical colleges in the state will be able to resume online classes from July 1. The attendance of teaching staff and other personnel will be limited to 50 per cent.
The state is considering reopening educational institutions with 50% attendance and staggered timings in August. “How we start the classes depends on the third wave of Covid-19. If we feel it is not safe for students, then we might consider staggered timings and 50 per cent attendance on alternate days. But these are still under discussion. Final call will be taken later,” said AP Education Minister Adimulapu Suresh. Officials also mentioned that the government is considering conducting classes in two batches. Online classes, however, will continue for Class 9 and Class 10.
An expert committee headed by Dr Devi Shetty formed “to analyse, advice and control Covid-19 third wave” submitted an interim report to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, and recommended opening schools, beginning with the senior-level students. In a staggered manner, with different shifts on different days to allow for social distancing norms to be followed. However, a decision regarding offline classes has not been announced yet and the state is still deliberating the same. Classes are to be broadcasted for Classes 8, 9, and 10 through DD Chandana.
The Odisha government, on June 21, began live streaming online classes on YouTube, for students from Classes 1 till 10. An official notification stated that online classes for Class 9 and Class 10 would continue till July 31, while classes for Class 1-8 would continue till July 7. The School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said that no decision has been taken about resuming physical classes in the state.
Originally, schools in Madhya Pradesh were scheduled to resume offline classes after the summer vacation, from July 1. However, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Monday that classes would continue online and via broadcast. The final decision on the reopening of schools/colleges has not been announced yet.
Gujarat government on July 9 decided to allow physical classes of class 12 as well as colleges and technical institutes from July 15 with 50 per cent attendance. Physical attendance will not be compulsory for students, but the authorities at schools and colleges will have to obtain parents’ consent if students are to be asked to attend in person, it said. “Other classes will be opened in a phased manner, most likely after a week’s time after analysing the situation,” Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, told The Indian Express.
The Uttar Pradesh government had given directives for schools affiliated with the UP Board to reopen for Classes 1-8 from July 1. While schools will be open, physical classes will not be conducted, and only teachers and school staff will be allowed on school premises, for administrative work. Teachers will also conduct online classes for students. For schools affiliated with CISCE or CBSE, the individual school management committee has been given autonomy to make a decision. However, they may only decide whether teachers should be asked to come to school and conduct online classes from the school premises. Offline classes have not been permitted in the state.
The Bihar Education Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary said on Sunday that educational institutions may resume offline classes after July 6, if the Covid-19 situation keeps improving. The government has a three-stage unlock plan in place if the pandemic improves. In the first phase, all universities and colleges in the state would be allowed to open with 50% attendance. In the second phase, senior secondary and secondary classes would be allowed to resume offline classes. Finally, in the third phase, classes 1-5 would be allowed to resume physical classes. However, this plan is dependent on the Covid-19 situation in the state and how it progresses. From June 28, online classes were started for students of Classes 1-5 in government schools.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also announced the information regarding the reopening of schools and colleges on Twitter recently. He said, “Universities, all colleges, technical educational institutions, government training institutes, schools up to class 11th and 12th will open with 50% attendance. Special arrangements will be made for vaccination of adult students and girl students, teachers and staff of educational institutions.”
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