The State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended that the government should consider reopening schools for classes VI to VIII from September 13 onwards. This can be done after studying the impact of the current reopening of classes (for Class IX onwards) in the coming three weeks, the TAC has suggested.
Classes for IX, X and pre-university students commenced from August 23 in the State. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who had earlies this month announced the reopening of classes for students of Class IX onwards from August 23, had said that a decision regarding classes VI to VIII would be taken by the end of August. In this background, the Chief Minister has convened a meeting of the TAC and other COVID-19 experts on Monday. There are 29 lakh children in the age group of 11-13 studying in Classes VI to VIII. The TAC that discussed the reopening of schools at its 123rd meeting held on August 26 has said that with the Ganesha festival falling on September 10, a three-week wait before resuming Classes VI to VIII was advisable as it would cover one incubation period.
“The impact of the ongoing physical classes, in terms of number of children testing positive, clinical presentation, severity and their management, and response of the parents, teachers, school managements and the public at large, should be studied. The situation will be reviewed on September 8,” stated the report on the TAC’s recommendations.
V. Anbukumar, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said that the department was keen to reopen physical classes for students of Classes VI to VIII. “We are ready for all permutations and combinations and will work based on the TAC’s suggestion,” he said.
On August 23, schools were reopened in the State for Class IX onwards, except those located in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Kodagu, Hassan, and Chikkamagaluru districts that had a Test Positivity Rate (TPR) of over 2% or slightly lower. This decision impacted a total of 12.2 lakh students.
With regard to this, the TAC has recommended that 10% of these students should be randomly tested weekly by RT-PCR and the positivity rate should be reported. “If the TPR exceeds 2% in a school, then the school should be closed for a week, sanitised, the contacts of the positives tested, and further action taken,” the TAC report stated.
SOPs for Teachers’ Day
The committee has also recommended Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for conducting public functions such as Teachers Day (September 5) in Karnataka. It has advised that the State should desist from holding any public functions in general, especially in the districts/taluks having TPR of more than 2%.
“The situation of COVID-19 in the State has remained almost constant with 1,500 to 1,800 new cases being reported daily in the past three weeks. Some districts bordering Kerala are showing higher TPR of over 2%. Holding public functions in these districts is not advisable,” the report stated.
“However, when it is absolutely necessary to hold a public function, the venue should be preferably outdoor or, if indoor, in a non-AC facility with adequate natural ventilation with doors and windows open and with fans switched on. The number of people permitted to attend such functions should not exceed 100. All COVID-19 precautions should be followed at public functions, which cannot be held without the permission from the Deputy Commissioner or tahsildar. Children below 10 years of age and persons over 60 should avoid such gatherings,” the TAC report stated.