Government guidelines on the final unlocking phase reportedly suggest that senior students of class 10 to 12 be asked to attend school in the first 15 days followed by other classes
The central government has framed a plan to reopen schools and educational institutions in a phase-wise manner between September 1 and November 14, the rules for which are likely to be notified along with the final unlock guidelines at the end of this month.
As per the guidelines, for the first 15 days, students of class 10 to 12 would be asked to attend school. If Class 10 has four sections, half the students of sections A and C would be required to come on particular days, and the others on the remaining days, the Economic Times reported.
The number of school hours, the report states, would be restricted to 5-6 hours, out of which 2-3 hours would require physical attendance. The report states that all schools are likely to run in shifts, from 8 to 11 am and 12 to 3 pm, with one hour break in between for sanitisation. According to the guidelines, the schools would be asked to run with 33 percent teaching staff and students.
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According to the ET report, the modalities of this plan have been discussed by the group of secretaries attached to the Group of Ministers tasked with COVID-19 management in the country.
Sources told the newspaper that while the guidelines for this will be released with other unlock guidelines on August 31, the decision on reopening will be left to states.
"The state, where caseloads have been low, have also expressed their keenness to bring back students of senior classes," a senior official told the newspaper.
While a survey conducted by the department of school education in July had indicated that parents are not very keen on sending their children back to schools, state governments have argued that students of the economically weaker section are suffering due to the shutdown.
The government is reportedly at this stage not in favour of calling pre-primary and primary school students to school. After the introduction of physical attendance for Class 10-12, classes 6-9 can be started for restricted hours.
"We have studied the way countries like Switzerland have brought back children to school safely. A similar model would be employed in India," the official quoted above said.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan had also pointed out in an interview to the Times of India that it is now critical to assess how and when to open schools. "Disruptions to instructional time in the classroom can have a severe impact on a child's ability to learn. That puts schools as one of the high priorities in the coming days," she said.Swaminathan warned that there are multiple risks involved in keeping children out of school such as abuse, child marriage, violence at home.