Will discuss reopening of more classes: Karnataka government

The statements come days before further relaxations come from Karnataka government into effect from Friday including schools, cinema halls and pubs among other establishments.
Primary school students attend a class following Covid guidelines as schools reopened after more then one and half years, in Bengaluru on September 6. (ANI)
Primary school students attend a class following Covid guidelines as schools reopened after more then one and half years, in Bengaluru on September 6. (ANI)
Published on Sep 30, 2021 12:50 AM IST
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By, Bengaluru

The Karnataka government on Wednesday said that it will discuss the reopening of schools for students below class 5 after the Dasara festival to bring back students after nearly 18 months of Covid-19 related lockdowns.

BC Nagesh, Karnataka’s minister for primary and secondary education said that after the festival the chief minister and the technical advisory committee (TAC) and other experts will hold a meeting on the subject and will only then decide the next course of action.

“The technical committee has allowed full capacity for classes 6 to 12 from October 1. After Dasara, the (Covid) task force will meet again then decide on reopening classes from 1 to 5. Since there are viral infections going on there are some delays,” Nagesh said on Wednesday.

The statements come days before further relaxations come into effect from Friday including schools, cinema halls and pubs among other establishments.

The TAC had suggested against any hurrying up of reopening of schools for children below class 5 since they were too small to follow Covid protocols like wearing masks and social distancing.

People aware of the developments said that the government is willing to follow its phase-wise opening and was willing to suggest that classes be reopened for students between classes 3 to 5.

The relaxations will come into effect even as 60 students from a residential school in the outskirts of Bengaluru have tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday with two of them being hospitalised.

J Manjunath, deputy commissioner of Bengaluru Urban on Wednesday said that out of 480 students in the school only 60 have tested positive.

“We have tested every one of them. We are going to test on the 7th day. The school has been closed till October 20, there is no cause for worry,” Manjunath said on Wednesday.

He said that the measures taken so far were “proactive” and this early detection has helped contain the crisis.

He said that out of the 60 students, 14 are from Tamil Nadu and 46 of them have come from different parts of the state.

“We are keeping a constant watch,” he said, adding that the state government has directed district administrations to do random testing.

After a gap of nearly four months, the Karnataka government has decided to reopen physical classes for students in classes 9, 10 and 12 in August, that allowed children to be back in their schools for the first time since the second wave of Covid-19 infections.

People aware of the developments said that there was requests from parents and guardians to reopen schools as students in rural areas have been closed for over a year now.

Many students from rural areas with no access to internet and other devices have lost out on classes and many of them are dependent on reopening of schools for mid-day meals.

In July, S Suresh Kumar, the then primary and secondary education minister had stated that around 9.3 million students out of the total 10.05 million across private and public schools in Karnataka, have been accounted for in terms of access to devices, internet, TV, radio and even email.

Of the 9.3 million who have been accounted for, only 5,859,907 have smartphones/tablets and around 3,127,524 without any access to such devices. Further, there are just 5,134,386 students who have access to the internet while 3,779,965 students do not have access to the internet, rendering the exercise of online classes as a redundant practice for these children, mostly from rural and backward regions of the state, Hindustan Times reported on July 2.

The restarting of schools has been a contentious one, especially at a time when there appears to be a resurgence of new Covid-19 infections.

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