Notices to State government on reopening of schools, colleges

The Telangana High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the State government over its decision to commence physical classes for school and college students from July 1, after hearing an interim application filed in one of the PIL pleas relating to COVID-19.

A bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy instructed the government to file its response to the notices within a week.

Senior counsel L. Ravi Chander, appearing for one of the PIL petitioners, filed the application seeking to quash GO no. 121 announcing reopening of schools and colleges from July 1 along with commencement of physical classes issued four days ago.

The lawyer maintained that the government had not explained how well it was prepared to check possible outbreak of third wave of COVID-19.

Citing experts, he said the pandemic’s possible third wave is likely to affect children seriously. Without initiating any steps to contain and face the third wave, it is not fair on the government’s part to decide to reopen educational institutions, he said.

The senior counsel also pointed out that while the government informed the court that 2,000 beds were allotted to Niloufer children hospital, its Medical and Health Department website indicated that only 24 beds were allocated to that hospital. In the backdrop of the indications that children are likely to be affected more during the third wave, the government required to review its decision, he added.

Summoned by the bench during the deliberations, School Education Secretary Sandeep Kumar Sultania, who participated in the virtual court proceedings, informed the court that conducting physical classes was not a final decision. There was no compulsion for the parents to send their wards to schools for physical classes, he said. Deliberations were still on in the matter, Mr. Sultania stated.

Observing that it was a premature decision, the bench asked the Secretary if the government can guarantee no child would be affected by Coronavirus after physical classes begin from July 1.

“How can the government take such a decision without doing any ground work,” the bench said. The CJ observed that it would be difficult to ensure children maintain social distance and comply with all COVID-19 norms despite repeated instructions.

“We could have understood if the government permitted students of 10th, 11th and 12th standards to attend physical classes. But permitting students from first standard to ninth standard is not a wise decision,” the CJ observed.

The bench instructed Public Health Director G. Srinivasa Rao to file a detailed affidavit explaining preparedness of the government to tackle Delta+ variant of the virus. This variant was said to be having serious effect and intruding into many States.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 8:33:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/notices-to-state-government-on-reopening-of-schools-colleges/article34940082.ece

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