Kerala

State mulling opening educational institutions

Now that the number of new cases in the State has been coming down steadily, the government will consider whether it will be feasible, practical and safe to reopen educational institutions for higher classes.

This would however not be an immediate concern or priority and if new COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the State, the government would consider it after consultation with experts, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Tuesday.

However, he made it clear that reopening schools for smaller classes in this academic year would be a near-impossibility.

With new COVID-19 cases going down steadily in the State, the Disaster Management department issued orders on Tuesday further relaxing the restrictions imposed on training institutions, except technical education institutions and schools.

The order said vocational training institutes, private tuition centres, computer centres, and dance schools could start functioning now, provided the number of students at a time inside the institute was a maximum of 100 persons or half the room/hall’s capacity.

The Chief Minister said that while the case numbers were going down, this was the time there should be maximum alertness against COVID-19. Any complacency on the part of the public and laxity in following all COVID safety protocols could lead to a resurgence of the disease, as was the pattern observed else where across the globe.

He said that in European nations and the U.S., where a second wave of COVID-19 was raging, restaurants and pubs where people got together, relaxed and mingled without masks, had emerged as the primary source of disease spread.

In the State too, people were seen crowding in front of wayside eateries and tea shops. Air-conditioned spaces in restaurants, where people crowd and did not maintain physical distancing, could be quite risky, he said.

Given the high concentration of eateries in the State and the fact that none of the people would be wearing masks at these places, it was very much possible that restaurants and wayside eateries could become the next epicentre of COVID-19 spread in the State, Mr. Vijayan warned.

Those running the eateries/restaurants should ensure that there was no crowding and people visiting these places should also make sure that they followed all safety precautions against COVID-19.

Mr. Vijayan said that laxity in maintaining physical distancing during election campaigning could turn out to be a disaster for the State. Utmost care should be taken to ensure that the elderly was protected and that they were not interacting with too many people from outside.

He appealed to all Sabarimala pilgrims to cooperate with the authorities and to follow all COVID-19 protocols so that a safe pilgrimage was possible this year. Religious congregations had been known to become super spreader events and this should not happen in Kerala, he added.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 10:58:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/state-mulling-opening-educational-institutions/article33171718.ece

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