More than half the States and Union Territories, including COVID-19 hotspots Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, have not yet decided on a date for reopening schools, the Centre was told at a meeting this week.
The remaining States are split between those willing to reopen in August, which includes Delhi and Bihar, and others who will not open until September, such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.
Coronavirus | What must schools do before reopening?
The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has also asked the States to gauge parents’ opinions on the issue and submit it by Monday, offering options of reopening in August, September or October.
All educational institutions have been shut since mid-March due to the pandemic, leaving 25 crore children across the country out of school. In many States, some form of distance education has restarted, using online resources as well as television and radio programmes.
The HRD Ministry held a videoconference with State representatives on July 15 to discuss the School Safety Plan.
The responses were compiled by the Ministry into a document, which The Hindu has reviewed.
Assam was the only State willing to open at the end of July.
Also read | What post-COVID school life may look like
Of the 36 States and UTs, at least 21 said they had not taken a decision yet, with five of those adding that they were awaiting guidance from the Centre. With the spread of the pandemic still uncertain, most States were not willing to commit to any reopening date, including the two States with the highest number of cases, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
On the other hand, Delhi, which has the third highest number of cases, said it would like to open schools “preferably in August”, according to the Ministry document. The capital has dropped to sixth place in active cases.