The education department would soon issue a separate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the schools and also the guidelines to be followed by the students and their parents.
Speaking about the decision, urban development minister and government spokesperson Madan Kaushik said, “In all 13 districts of Uttarakhand, district magistrates, Basic Shiksha Adhikaris (BSAs) and other education department officials have held a number of meetings with parents and also their associations. After a string of meetings, they recommended that we can start by opening schools for classes X and XII. The schools – both government and private – would open only for the students of these two classes.” He pointed out that the schools would be responsible for maintaining and following all the social distancing norms, besides ensuring that students wear masks, and that there is proper sanitisation facility in their institution.
“We are not going to hold accountable either the school or the parents if a student tests Covid-19 positive. I was also tested positive. Did I blame anyone? However, we will ensure that all the norms and guidelines are strictly followed,” the minister said, while adding, “It has been seen in a few European countries and in two states of our country, where schools reopened, that the number of cases have gone up. Therefore, after a detailed discussion, the cabinet decided that we will start with these two classes initially and a decision for others would be taken later.”
On being asked about reopening coaching institutes, the minister said, “The issue was discussed in the cabinet but we have decided to wait for now. First, the schools will be opened in a phase-wise manner. The health of students, teachers, and staff is our top priority.”
Meanwhile, Arif Khan, the president of National Association for Parents and Students Rights, reacting to the state cabinet decision, said, “It appears that the cabinet has taken this decision under the pressure of private schools. In a school, there are many sections in one class and each class has around 40 students. This means that even if these two classes are reopened, a school would have the presence of around 400-to-600 students. Do all the schools have the required infrastructure to ensure social distancing norms? It would have been better had the government waited for some more time.”