Classes 9-12 to resume in four northeastern States from September 21

Will follow SOP issued by Health Ministry on September 8

Updated - September 20, 2020 10:31 pm IST

Published - September 20, 2020 05:14 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Assam Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. File

Assam Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. File

Schools are scheduled to reopen partially in four of the seven contiguous States in the northeast — Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Assam — from September 21. They are expected to follow the standard operating procedure issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on September 8.

The BJP is in power in three of these States on its own or in alliance; the fourth, Mizoram, is helmed by the BJP’s associate in an anti-Congress forum.

The States yet to take a decision on partial reopening of schools and other educational institutions are Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura where 307 out of a total of 37,699 COVID-19 positive people have died so far.

Minimising contact

In Assam, where the educational institutions were shut on March 15 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, guidelines have been issued to minimise the chances of infection among students, teachers and non-teaching staff.

“Students from classes 9-12 will be allowed to attend schools and colleges while all other classes will continue to remain suspended. But students will come to school only if parents volunteer to send them,” Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

The guidelines say that 50% of the teachers and non-teaching staff will be allowed on the school premises at a time, in which case two sets of teachers would be taking classes on alternate days.

Re-drawn timetables

The schools reopening will also have to schedule activities and chart out a seating plan to ensure physical distancing of 6 feet, wherever feasible, among students and teachers. Besides, the schools have been asked to display State helpline numbers and contacts of local health authorities in case of an emergency.

In Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, skill development and other training institutes will reopen partially alongside schools and higher educational institutions.

Nagaland, in particular, has the additional worry of absent teachers as “attendance during normal times” itself has been poor. Very few teachers had responded to the State government’s directive to remain in their respective places of posting during the lockdown.

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