Karnataka on Saturday decided to reopen schools from class 10 and Pre-University Colleges (PUC) and also to resume its flagship Vidyagama programme, which enables continued schooling for students from classes six to nine from January 1, that were closed due to Covid-19 pandemic spread.
These decisions were taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa on reopening schools and PU colleges in the state at his home office - Krishna - here.
Schools will partially reopen in January after a gap of nearly seven months.
Speaking to reporters, the CM said the Karnataka Technical Advisory Committee for Covid-19 had suggested him reopen of schools from January 1 onwards.
“As per their recommendations, we discussed in detail for about an hour and agreed unanimously to reopen schools starting classes 10 and 12 (second PUC) from January 1 and for imparting education for students from classes six to nine through the Vidyagama programme," he explained.
In a tweet informing about the same, Yediyurappa stated that a decision on reopening schools for students of other classes would be taken after reviewing the situation for 15 days.
“Both Classes 10 and second PUC are crucial as students will have to face board exams. The schools and PU colleges have remained closed since March just ahead of the national lockdown that was first enforced to combat Covid-19," he explained.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar said the Covid-19 standard operating procedures followed during SSLC and PUC examinations, will be followed when schools reopen on January 1.
“Students who want to attend schools or Vidyagama will have to produce parents’ consent letters. Classes for Vidyagama will be conducted once in three days a week and it will be organised only within school premises," the minister added.
In a response to a question, Kumar made it clear that attending schools was not mandatory as those who wish to continue their online classes, they can continue.
“We are already imparting classes through our full fledged youtube channel and it is also being telecasted through Samveda programme telecasted through the Doordarshan Chandana TV also. As per this, we are hopeful of completing syllabus to a large extent," he said.
The minister said that Vidyagama is not a patented programme of the government and it can be replicated by any private schools if they wish to do so. “I hope that they will replicate this programme," he said.
Answering a question, Kumar said that the state government was also planning to reopen hostels for students studying in these classes.
Health Minister K. Sudhakar said that the state government’s main intention is to safeguard children and parents’ interests. “We are also planning to have another round of sero surveillance survey, in order to know the trend and prevalence of the pandemic in the state," he said.
It may be worth noting that degree and engineering colleges in the state were reopened on November 17, while the medical and paramedical colleges reopened on December 1 after being shut down for nearly nine months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of December 18, Karnataka had reported 9,07,123 Covid -19 cases, while the toll stood at 11,989.