By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 8 Oct: Schools in Uttarakhand have been closed since the third week of March due to the Corona pandemic. While the Centre has permitted the states to decide on school reopening with effect from 15 October in its Unlock-5 guidelines issued earlier this month, it is not going to be easy for the schools in Uttarakhand to reopen anytime soon. The state government, though, is seriously mulling reopening of schools later this month. However, the parents are hesitant to send their children to schools anytime soon, as the pandemic has not shown any indication of abating in the state. Every day, more than 500 cases are being reported in the state even now, with some days reporting more than a thousand cases. It is, therefore, but natural that the parents are worried. The government seems to be taking a cautionary approach in this regard.
The Uttarakhand government has decided to seek the opinions of parents regarding opening of schools from 15 October. Through the district authorities, the government is taking the opinion of parents regarding on this score. Based on the report of the district authorities, a proposal may be placed before the Cabinet on 14 October on school reopening.
So far, there is no input available officially on the progress made by the district magistrates in seeking the opinion of the parents and then finalising their own recommendations based on the feedback. This is even as just a few days are left for the Cabinet meeting proposed for 14 October. At the same time, School Education Minister Arvind Pandey has decided to speak to the teachers and seek their opinion in this regard. Tomorrow, a virtual meeting has been summoned by him when he will interact with around ten thousand teachers from across the state. He will be present at the Rajiv Gandhi Navodaya Vidyalaya in Doon, from where this virtual meeting will be conducted beginning 9:30 a.m. Sources said that the parents were seeking a written undertaking from the schools that they would be responsible if the children get Corona infected, once the schools reopen. Schools would hardly be willing to accept such responsibility especially when the Union Government has made it clear that attending the schools would not be mandatory for the children and they could only be permitted to return if their parents were willing to send them voluntarily.
Considering the possibility of only a small percentage of the school children attending schools if they open later this month, the government is mulling issuing guidelines to the schools on conducting online classes, too, along with regular classes, sources claim. This is being opposed not only by the teachers but the schools as well, as this would mean additional burden of several hours every day for the teachers. In such a scenario, it is going to be a major challenge to reopen schools with some amount of normalcy. Of course, some guidelines and SOPs will be issued for the schools in case the schools are able to open later this month!
By Arun Pratap Singh