Schools, colleges may reopen from Sept 1, hints Himanta

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SEBA, AHSEC asked to reduce syllabus for current academic session ** Corona test mandatory for all staff of schools, colleges

  HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Aug 1: Assam government has made preliminary plans to reopen educational institutions on September 1 but the final decision will depend on the directives of the Centre, the state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said here on Saturday.

“We have drawn up a preliminary plan for reopening schools but it is still open for further discussions with parents and other stakeholders, and will be implemented only in accordance with the directives of the Union government,” Sarma said in a press conference here.

“The move to reopen schools and colleges in the state on September 1 is a considerate plan so as to prepare us mentally to go back to classrooms after the long hiatus,” Sarma said.

As per initial planning the education department has come up with, all teachers and non-teaching staff will have to get themselves tested for COVID-19 and that they will have to get themselves tested between Aug 23 and 30.

The testing of teachers and non-teaching staff of schools and colleges will be mandatory, Sarma said.

The classes from nursery to IV will not reopen even on September 1 while classes from V to VIII will be held not in classrooms but in playgrounds and open spaces, he said.

“No classes will be held till Class IV even on Sep 1 and that the plan, if things get better, is to hold classes from Class V onwards. From Class V to Class VIII, classes will be held in playgrounds and other open spaces and not in classrooms,” the minister said.

“For Class IX to Class XII, classes will be held inside school and college classrooms. While students of Class IX and Class XI, classes will be held two days a week while students of Class X and Class XII will have classes for four days in a week,” Sarma said adding that classes in one day will be of three hour duration and that teachers should divide students into sections with one section having maximum 15 students.

For students pursuing three-year degree (TDC) courses only final semester students will require to attend classes if they do begin in September.

No directives have been issued for resumption of university classes since the varsities are autonomous bodies and will take a decision on their own in consultation with the education department, he said.

“We are looking at the reopening as a voluntary exercise and not something that would be implemented compulsorily. Attendance for students will not be compulsory but the same will be for teaching and non-teaching staff,” Sarma further said.

The classes will be divided into sections of 15 students and only these many students can attend classes at a time, he said.

Only 15 students will be present at a time in a classroom and classes will be held for only three hours in a day, the minister said.

“Efforts will be made to ensure maximum social distancing with schools initiating shift systems with a particular class coming at an allotted time of the day,” he said.

“The government will upload the SOPs in two websites. People, including educationists, can offer their suggestions on reopening of educational institutions till Aug 20. The government will take all suggestions into consideration before coming up with a final decision,” he added.

The minister further said that the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA) and Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) have also been asked to consider either reducing the syllabus or providing maximum options in the question paper so that students do not face any difficulty if a portion of the syllabus has not been covered.

All educational institutions in the state have remained closed since March 20, following the outbreak of the coronavirus.


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