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New unlock guidelines: States free to decide on schools reopening after Oct 15

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school covid sanitizationNew Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) : The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday left it to the states and union territories to decide on reopening of schools and coaching institutions after October 15 in a graded manner.

Earlier, schools were partially reopened from September 21 in compliance with Unlock 4 guidelines.

In fresh guidelines for further reopening of the country amid the pandemic, the MHA stated, “For re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, State and 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 or institution management, based on their assessment of the situation.”

The ministry, however, clarified that online or distance learning will continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and should be encouraged. “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.”

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The guidelines added, “Students may attend schools or institutions only with the written consent of parents. Attendance must not be enforced and must depend entirely on parental consent.”

States and UTs have been asked to prepare their own standard operating procedures (SOP) regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools and institutions based on the guidelines to be issued by the Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Education.

“Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of States and UTs. The Department of Higher Education (DHE), Ministry of Education may take a decision on the timing of the opening of colleges and higher education institutions, in consultation with the MHA,” it added.

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Higher Education Institutions, only for research scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology streams that require laboratory or experimental work will be permitted to open from October 15.

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“For centrally funded higher education institutions, the Head of Institution will satisfy herself or himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory or experimental works,a the fresh guidelines further added.

For all other Higher Education Institutions like State Universities, private universities etc., they may open only for research scholars and postgraduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory or experimental works as per decision to be taken by the respective State and UT Governments.

–IANS

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