Bringing an end to all speculations, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday (September 30, 2020) issued new guidelines for opening up of more activities in areas outside the COVID-19 containment zones and said that the States and UTs can reopen schools, colleges and education institutions after October 15. The Centre also issued various guidelines for the reopening of schools and other educational institutions.
“For re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after 15th October 2020, in a graded manner. The decision shall be taken in consultation with the respective school/ institution management, based on their assessment of the situation,” stated the MHA.
They also said that the decision shall be taken with considering the following conditions:
1. Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.
2. Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so.
3. Students may attend schools/ institutions only with the written consent of parents.
4. Attendance must not be enforced and must depend entirely on parental consent.
5. States /UTs will prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools/ institutions based on the SOP to be issued by Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education, Government of India, keeping local requirements in view.
6. Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of States/ UTs.
7. Department of Higher Education (DHE), Ministry of Education may take a decision on the timing of the opening of Colleges/ Higher Education Institutions, in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), based on the assessment of the situation. Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.
However, Higher Education Institutions only for research scholars (PhD) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/ experimental works will be permitted to open from October 15, 2020, as under:
1. For Centrally Funded Higher Education Institutions, the Head of Institution will satisfy herself/ himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars (PhD) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory/experimental works.
2. For all other Higher Education Institutions e.g. State Universities, Private Universities etc., they may open only for research scholars (PhD) and postgraduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/experimental works as per decision to be taken by the respective State/UT Governments.
Earlier, the Government of India had allowed partial resumption of activities in schools for students of classes 9th to 12th on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers from September 21.