Faced with a sudden spike in the coronavirus cases, including school teachers and students, the Himachal Pradesh government has decided to close down the schools within a fortnight after its decision to reopen the schools for classes 9 to 12.
“The cabinet has decided to grant special vacation to all government and private schools, colleges, ITIs, polytechnics, engineering colleges and coaching institutes from November 11 to 25 for students, teaching and non-teaching staff in view of the present Covid-19 situation,” an official spokesman said.
The cabinet which met under Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur was briefed by the secretary (education) Rajeev Sharma that barely 20 to 22 students were turning up for classes but attendance was falling gradually for fear of coronavirus.
During the past one week, 216 school teachers tested positive apart from 87 students.
The attendance on Tuesday when the cabinet met to take a call on closure of the schools had dropped to just 12 per cent.
The state government had claimed that strict SOPs were framed for the schools but there have been cases of violation of the MHA guidelines. This made the parents, who had earlier given written consent to the schools to send their wards, to school, even more anxious.
Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri criticised the decision of the state government to reopen the schools putting the students at risk.
“Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur must tell the public who is dictating to him. It was foolish and criminal to reopen the schools at the time when the virus had already got into the community spread. There is a second and third wave of the infection. More than 77 people have died during the past 10 days,” he alleged.
He threatened to raise the issue of reopening of the schools in the upcoming winter session of the Assembly which will be convened at Dharamshala on December 7.
Meanwhile, 10 persons died of coronavirus in Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday .The Covid-care ward at Indira Gandhi Medical College doesn’t have any more beds.
The proposed makeshift hospital for Covid patients has run into trouble with locals opposing the site proposed near a residential area.
Seven bodies were taken for cremation in Shimla on Tuesday even as two were to be kept for last rites on Wednesday.
CPM leader and former mayor Sanjay Chauhan has also mocked the government for its decision to reopen schools.