After remaining shut for more than seven months because of Covid-19 induced lockdown, schools and colleges throughout Himachal Pradesh will reopen on November 2. However, classes will not be held for school students below class 8, as the state government has only permitted schools to conduct regular classes for students in standards 9 to 12.
Similarly, colleges throughout the state will be permitted to reopen and college administrations will have to ensure that Covid-19 guidelines issued by the ministry of home affairs are strictly adhered to, by staff as well as students.
The decision was taken by the state cabinet on Tuesday with Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur presiding over the meet. Thakur who had tested positive for Covid-19 returned to work on Monday, after he remained under home isolation for two weeks.
Providing more details about the government’s decision, urban and housing minister Suresh Bhardwaj said even the state government has allowed schools to reopen, schools will not be allowed to impose mandatory attendance.
“Though a decision has been taken to reopen schools from November 2, schools will not be allowed make it mandatory for students to attend classes. It should be left to the students to decide if they want to attend classes or not. Students can consult with their teachers and a decision can be taken based upon their academic needs for the current academic session,” Bhardwaj said.
All educational institutions will also have to chart out a standard operating procedure (SOP) for resuming classes. “If the number of students opting for regular classes is high, then the institution can make arrangements for dividing the students into groups and conduct classes in two shifts, one in the morning and one in the evening. All institutions must arrange for sanitizers and handwash liquids and must ensure that social-distancing norms are strictly followed,” Bhardwaj said.
The state government’s decision comes after it consulted numerous institutions, parents and students. “The government had carried out an elaborate exercise. We conducted E-PTMs to take into consideration the opinions of parents and teachers. Even students were asked to provide their opinions and suggestions. Many teachers and students were of the view that there is a need to resume classes without mandatory attendance. However, parents were sceptical,” education minister Govind Thakur said.
Bhardwaj also said that all undergraduate first and second-year students will be promoted en mass. Nearly 60,000 students are likely to benefit by this decision.
Meanwhile, final-year examinations for third-year undergraduate students have already been conducted.
The government also issued a word of caution and asked everyone to take extra precautions during winter, since there is a greater threat of the spread of coronavirus when the temperature dips.
The number of active Covid-19 cases in the state has come down to 2,424. So far, almost 390 people have succumbed to the virus in the state and a total of 20,645 people have tested positive so far.
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