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Assam, Andhra Pradesh Re-open Schools and Colleges in Graded Manner With Strict Covid-19 Norms in Place

Students attend classes as schools in north-eastern Assam state reopen after being closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic in Gauhati, India, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

Students attend classes as schools in north-eastern Assam state reopen after being closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic in Gauhati, India, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

While the Assam government decided to open schools for students of Class 6 onwards, Andhra Pradesh convened classes of standard 9, 10 and 11. Both the states issued guidelines for the functioning of classes amid the pandemic.

After nearly 7 months of remaining shut due to the outbreak of COVID-19, schools and colleges re-opened in graded manner in Assam and Andhra Pradesh on Monday with all precautionary measures in place. While the Assam government decided to open schools for students of Class 6 onwards, Andhra Pradesh convened classes of standard 9, 10 and 11. Both the states issued guidelines for the functioning of classes amid the pandemic.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal directed the education department to ensure that the COVID-19 guidelines are followed at all times. The state government also stated that the re-opening of schools is on a voluntary basis and only those students who have consent from their parents will attend classroom teachings.

Students from Class 6 and above will be attending school in two batches – from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Not more than 25 students will be present in each section. Classes will be held in an odd-even system. Students of Classes 6, 7, 9 and 12 will have classroom teachings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays of every week, while those of Classes 8, 10 and 11 will attend school on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Coming to school will be a voluntary exercise for students and the necessary attendance required will not be applicable this year, Assam’s education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. As a result, schools cannot force students to attend classroom teachings. A written consent from their parents or guardian will be required by each student to attend classes in school.

School examinations will be held only for Class 8, while board exams will be conducted for Classes 10 and 12.

Similarly, in colleges, classes will be held twice a week for first semester students – on Monday and Thursday. Students in their third semester will attend classes thrice a week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday while those in the fifth semester will have their classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday every week.

In Andhra Pradesh, the schools would be run on alternate days in three phases. Precautionary measures would be taken to contain the spread Covid-19, said chief secretary Nilam Sawhney issuing a release on guidelines.

According to the Jagan Mohan Reddy government's plan, all government schools for classes 9, 10 and 11, and colleges re-opened on November 2. Intermediate first and second year of college would function on alternate days only for half-a-day. All the higher secondary colleges also started functioning from Monday and would follow a rotation basis.

The state will convene classes for standard 6,7 and 8, on half-a-day basis, from November 23. Classes 1,2,3, 4 and 5 would start functioning from December 14, on alternate days and on a half-a-day basis. The same schedule would apply to all government schools and colleges.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra government is planning to re-open schools and colleges in a phase-wise manner after Diwali. According to Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad, Maharashtra government is planning to start schools across the state after Diwali but it will only be allowed if the safety rules regarding coronavirus can be followed strictly.

If everything goes as planned, classes might resume first for students from standard 9 to 12. Official announcements will follow soon,he said.

The West Bengal government has said that the decision in regard of reopening schools would be taken after Kali puja on November 14. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on Friday, ruled out any possibility of schools in the state reopening anytime soon. Banerjee, in an administrative review meeting in North Bengal, said a decision in regard of school re-opening would be taken after Kali puja.

Meanwhile, the new academic session of both undergraduate and post graduate levels in colleges and universities will begin from December 1. The guidelines for opening of schools, colleges, educational institutions and coaching institutions have not been decided yet.

In Gujarat, the government has not declared the date for re-opening schools but sources said classes are likely to commence after Diwali. While it has been hinted that the schools might open in the coming days, there is no SOP as the decision is still pending.

Tamil Nadu has decided to convene classes in schools for students of standard 9 to 12, and colleges, research and educational institutions from November 16.

The Karnataka government has not declared a date for re-opening schools, however, sources said that it is likely to do so after Diwali.

Meanwhile, Odisha has announced that all academic institutions across the state will remain closed till November 30.

The Kerala government is considering a partial re-opening of schools from November 15 onwards. The education department has expressed its willingness to open schools for the commencement of 10 and plus-two classes in the initial stage.

Students are to be divided into batches and be seated based on strict social distancing norms. The education department may hold talks with health officials before taking a final call. Schools in places with more number of Covid cases will be exempted. Covid-19 situation in all 14 districts in the state are being assessed in this regard.

The decision has come after taking into consideration the reaction of the students and their parents. Most of them are worried about the board examinations for 10 and plus-two for the current academic year.

In Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, schools re-opened in a graded on October 15. A spokesperson of the Punjab government had said the decision to re-open schools and coaching institutions were taken after laying down some conditions to ensure safety amid the pandemic. Online/distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and be encouraged. Students of only classes 9 to 12 are permitted to attend schools/institutions with parental consent and attendance is not compulsory.

The Union Government gave its nod for partial re-opening of schools, colleges and other educational institutions from mid-October.


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