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Haryana wants to open schools, seeks Union govt’s approval

Comprehensive Plan: Education minister says they are fine-tuning their strategy to exit the lockdown; in favour of allowing teachers to join duty
By Pawan Sharma, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAY 28, 2020 11:20 PM IST

Haryana government has decided to seek permission from the central government to open schools and start the new academic session with precautions crucial to ensure social distancing and combat the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to education minister Kanwar Pal.

On Wednesday, top brass of the Haryana education department held a meeting to chalk out possible plans required to open the schools. But the state government cannot open them without the Centre’s permission. The new academic session generally starts from April 1 every year, but due to the nationwide lockdown, the process could not kick-off this time.

Haryana has 8,686 government-run primary, 2,423 middle and 1,154 high schools in its 22 districts.

“We are willing to open the government as well as private schools with all the safeguards in place,” education minister Kanwar Pal said.

“But, we cannot open the schools until Union government gives its nod. We are in the process of sending a formal request to the Centre, seeking permission to start the academic session,” he added.

The education minister said among various ideas discussed in the Wednesday’s meeting was keeping the class strength to 15 students in order to maintain social distance. “We are putting our heads together to fine-tune our plan about the steps to be taken as and when we open the schools. We want to put in place a comprehensive plan keeping in view the safety of students and the teaching staff,” the minister said.

Kanwar Pal said he was in favour of allowing the teachers to join duty as a part of the strategy to exit the lockdown. He said even the private schools wanted their teaching staff to resume duty and focus on e-learning.

“We cannot take these steps on our own. Yes, I am in favour of asking teachers to join their duty and explore possibilities to help students,” he said.

How’s state govt helping students during lockdown

With the ongoing lockdown resulting in academic loss of the students, Haryana government is teaching government schoolchildren of Class 1 to Class 12 across the state through various e-learning platforms.

The education department and the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) have launched ‘Ghar Se Padhao Abhiyan’, an e-learning campaign to connect parents and students with over 60,000 teachers through WhatsApp, SMS and phone calls across the state to start academic activities. While math and Hindi lessons are being taught to primary school students, the focus is on science and math in middle and high school.

Already, the government has directed the principal/head of a government school, besides a clerk, a computer operator and a peon/gardener to return to duty. The state government had also allowed the private schools of Haryana to open their administrative offices.

The Haryana government has also given a onetime amount of 2,500 to 4,000 to all schools for purchasing soaps, sanitisers, masks and toilet cleaners among other items.

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