New Delhi: As a part of its plan for reopening schools, the central government intends to do so zone-wise after the lockdown is lifted, ThePrint has learnt. During this time, only students from classes 8 to 12 will be called in while students in primary and pre-primary classes will return after all schools fully reopen, NCERT has suggested in its draft guidelines.
ThePrint had earlier reported that the government was considering allowing only 30 per cent students at a time in school as it explored options to reopen the educational institutions. It has now further been decided that in order to make sure that the younger children are not at a risk of infection, only older children will be called in.
Confirming the development to ThePrint, a senior official in the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) said, “We are working on guidelines for reopening of schools after the lockdown and we plan to call only older students because there is a lot of safety risk with younger students. One cannot expect the younger children to maintain physical distance, wear masks and follow the hygiene rules at all times and we do not want to put them to risk.”
The official added that the guidelines on this will be released this week after consultation with other ministries such as health and home affairs.
Zone plan for reopening schools
The officials also said that schools will reopen according to the zones they are in — those in green and orange zones will be the first to open.
The ministry has followed the same rule to re-start the pending admissions for Kendriya Vidyalayas (KV) last week. KV admissions usually take place during March, but had to be postponed because of the increasing number of coronavirus cases. The admissions have now begun in districts falling under green and orange zones, officials in the ministry informed.
“The decision to reopen schools cannot be taken by the HRD Ministry alone, we need to take the clearance from Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health. Once all the ministries give a go-ahead, only then we can take a call,” said another officer.
The officer added that it is not apt to give a tentative school opening date at this time but if the situation normalises, schools can be opened by July with 30 per cent attendance and social-distancing norms in place.
Apart from this, the guidelines will also include a training module which teachers will have to undergo before schools reopen.
Sources familiar with the development said that teachers will be trained on how to ensure distance between students inside the classroom and school campus.
“A lot of things will have to be changed inside the schools once they reopen and teachers will have to be trained accordingly. Schools will have to conduct teacher training before they decide to reopen,” said a source.
A ban on school assemblies is also a part of the plan.