Amid surge in Covid-19 cases, schools in Assam to reopen from September 21
From Monday, classes will resume for students between Grade IX and XII for the next 15 days following which the situation will be reviewedUpdated: Sep 18, 2020, 15:34 IST
High and higher secondary schools in Assam are set to reopen from Monday after a gap of six months, despite a surge in the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases across the state.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) was issued by the secondary education department on Wednesday to maintain social distancing norms and other precautionary measures against the viral outbreak.
Schools in Assam have remained closed since March 15 because of the Covid-19 pandemic and students have been attending online classes.
From Monday, classes will resume for students between Grade IX and XII for the next 15 days following which the situation will be reviewed.
While all government schools will start functioning, private school authorities have been asked to take a call on their own.
“Our SOP is meant for all categories of schools. It is for the private school authorities to decide when they want to resume their classes,” said Phanindra Jidung, director, secondary education department, Assam.
“Students’ attendance in schools is not mandatory. Parents and guardians need to give their consent in writing following which students will be allowed to attend classes. The situation will be reviewed after 15 days taking into account all issues,” he added.
The SOP stated that while students from Grade IX to XII would attend schools, all other classes would remain suspended. Classes for Grade IX and XII students would be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while Grade X and XI students would attend on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it added.
Students’ strength in each classroom should not be more than 20 at any time. If any class has more than 20 students, they should be divided into two batches. The first batch of students will attend school from 9 am to 12 noon, while students from the second batch will have their classes between 1 pm and 4 pm.
The SOP stated that the total number of teaching and non-teaching staff should not exceed 50% and students with co-morbid conditions have been exempted from attending their classes. Schools will be in constant touch with district authorities for regular monitoring, random testing of teachers and students on a weekly basis.
“The government has assured that all necessary precautions, including Covid-19 tests of teachers, have been taken. Our teachers will be resuming classes from Monday,” said Syed Anisur Rahman, general secretary, Assam higher secondary teachers and employees’ association.
Prior to reopening of schools, government teachers underwent Covid-19 tests across the state and only those found negative and not having any other health complications will be allowed to take classes. Classrooms are also being sanitised.
“We have planned online tests between September 25 and October 19. There won’t be any classes in our school until the Durga Puja, which starts on October 22. Any decision on resumption of classes will be taken after that,” said Geeta Dutta Barua, the principal of Guwahati-based Srimanta Sankar Academy, a private school.
Jonali Das, the principal of Modern English School, another Guwahati-based private school, said they would start holding regular classes for Grade IX to XII students from September 25. But online classes would simultaneously be held.
“I am not comfortable with the idea of sending students to school at this time. We will wait for a few more weeks before taking a decision on whether to send my son for his regular classes,” said the father of a Grade X student of a private school in Guwahati.
Assam has recorded 1,50,349 Covid-19 positive cases to date, including 1,21,610 recoveries and 528 deaths.