As Unlock 3.0 progresses in the country, the Centre is mulling reopening of schools and other educational institutions in a staggered manner between September 1 and November 14. According to various news reports, 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, reported the Economic Times. It is likely that the final decision would be left to the state governments on how and when to bring back students to the classrooms.
As per the plans currently in progress, broad standard operating procedures (SOPs) would be issued for schools and educational institutions. 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.
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. Schools will be asked to spread out and utilise primary section classrooms to de-densify the student crowd.
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 noon to 3 pm—with a one-hour break in between for sanitisation. The schools would be advised to run on 33 per cent capacity of teaching staff and students.
While parents are not in favour of sending kids to school in the current situation, state governments have argued before the Centre that students from economically weaker sections are suffering. Governments of states with low transmission of COVID were also in favour of reopening schools. However, the Centre is not in favour of reopening schools for pre-primary and primary school students. It is likely that these students will continue with their online classes.
According to home ministry guidelines, schools, colleges and coaching centres are to stay closed till August 31.