Covid: Mamata says Bengal may reopen schools, colleges after Durga Puja vacation
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday her government was considering reopening of schools and colleges that have been shut since March due to the second wave of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Banerjee said educational institutes might reopen in West Bengal on alternate days after the Durga Puja vacation in November.
“However, nothing has been finalised just yet,” Banerjee said while addressing reporters after holding a meeting of Global Advisory Board (GAB), headed by Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, at the state secretariat, Nabanna. The Nobel laureate is in Bengal to discuss the government’s pandemic-related strategies.
The chief minister’s comments on Thursday come weeks after a senior education department official said the state government had no plans to reopen schools at any level in the near future due to the threat of the third wave of the pandemic.
The official said that whenever schools reopen, students of higher classes will be the first to start attending offline classes and not those who belong to primary classes. This was in response to a statement from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Balram Bhargava, who had said it will be wise to reopen schools across India for primary section students as they can handle the viral infection better than adults.
“We had sought to start on-campus classes at secondary and higher secondary levels in February before the second wave. But the virulence of the pandemic changed the situation and campus activities had to be entirely stopped,” the Bengal education department had added.
In July, several states, including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, have partially reopened their schools following a downfall in daily Covid-19 cases. This month, so far, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have started physical classes.
West Bengal has so far reported 15,30,850 cases, 18,180 deaths and 15,01,925 recoveries due to the coronavirus disease. On Wednesday, 826 new cases, 10 deaths and 838 recoveries were reported, according to the health department’s bulletin. The active cases in the state now stand at 10,745.
(With PTI inputs)
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