The reopening of schools and colleges in India

Vaishali Singh

Since the beginning of the phase-wise upliftment of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, a question that has been frequently asked by people, especially students, across the country is when will schools and colleges reopen in India. All education institutions were closed across the country after the Centre imposed a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the dreadful coronavirus, which is caused by SARS‑CoV‑2. However, a media report has now revealed that the Centre might soon unveil a phase-wise plan to reopen schools and educational institutes across the country between September 1 and November 14 later this month as part of final Unlock guidelines.

The schools and educational institutes across the country are closed since March 23, when the first lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic was put in-place. Ever since, the teaching and learning activities are relying on online modes, whose success has been limited because of the uneven availability of smart-devices, specifically in the country’s hinterland.

According to a report in Economic Times, the specifics of the plan have been formulated by the group of secretaries associated with the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 management, which is being headed by Health Minister and Member of Parliament from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, Dr Harsh Vardhan.

The report quoting its sources said that central government will simply issue Broad Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) as for the opening of schools and educational institutions, with the final decision left to the respective state governments so as to decide when and how to restart the classroom teaching.

What does the Centre’s formulation of opening schools and educational institutes say?

It suggests that for the first fifteen days of the opening of schools, Class 10 and Class 12 students will be asked and guided to attend the school. Afterwards, the students of Class 6 to 9 will be brought back to the classrooms with restricted hours.

However, all sections of one class will not attend the school on the same day. Different sections of a class will have specific days assigned as for attending the schools.

The emphasis on the sanitisation of the classrooms remains the biggest highlight of the Centre’s formulation. Schools will be told to work in shifts – 8 to 11 AM and 12 to 3 PM – with an hour left for the sanitisation. So far there is no plan to bring the primary and pre-primary students back to the classrooms, and they will continue to be taught via online modes, The Economic Times reported.

The government officials have studied the countries such as Switzerland have brought back the students to classrooms, and the formulation has been designed on similar lines as for the classroom teaching of Indian students.