GUWAHATI: Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu on Sunday announced the reopening of classes X, XII and final year courses from September 1, although the Covid situation is static in the state for a week with 600 to 700 cases detected every day.
Pegu said a SOP for the reopening of educational institutions will be released this week with detailed guidelines as Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is approved. “We will start the offline courses from September, by phase. First, final year courses like classes X, XII and final year bachelor courses will start, ”Pegu told media on Sunday.
He said that based on how the Covid situation evolves, the rest of the lessons will begin as well. “The SOP is under review and should be released within the next three days if the chief minister gives the green light,” Pegu added.
Government sources told TOI that from now on, even if Covid cases increase, schools and colleges will be closed at the district level, given the Covid situation at the micro level. Students have suffered heavy academic losses since last year after the Covid outbreak. Aside from the financial difficulties of purchasing smartphones, the lack of internet connectivity has been a further obstacle to the government’s plans to help students take courses online.
“Several states across the country have already started offline courses, although the second wave persists. The Assam Department of Education has made the final decision to start offline classes from September 1 and has sought the advice of the state health department as a formality, ”said a senior official in the education department.
Assam recorded 640 new cases of Covid on Saturday, bringing the number of active cases in the state to 6,877. The biggest concern, however, has been the state capital, Guwahati, where more than 100 cases are still detected. daily, although in several districts the daily figures have fallen to single digits.
“Once schools and colleges reopen, deputy commissioners will be empowered to answer an appeal regarding the closure of offline courses in the future. Unless the positivity rate in a district exceeds 2%, physical classes will continue. But if an educational institution falls under a containment zone, it will not be allowed to open, ”added the official.
He said that in colleges, all teachers and students, who are typically 18 and over, must get vaccinated with at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before they can join offline classes. In class XII and below, students will not be able to be vaccinated because most of them are under 18 years old. But all teachers should be given a jab.
The decision to reopen educational institutions has been welcomed by secondary teachers’ organizations, although there is some disappointment among primary teachers. Gobinda Kalita, General Secretary of Asom Madhyamik Sikshak Aru Karmachari Santha, said: “There should be no problem reopening the offline courses now. Most commercial activities, including transportation, started a few weeks ago. So why confine the students to their homes? ”
At the primary level, teachers are the most affected because students in lower grades cannot use the devices online. “Primary schools should be opened at the earliest because it is not possible to communicate well with students at a tender age simply because they are not tech-savvy. At the secondary level, students can at least cooperate through the online mode, ”said Ratul Goswami, secretary general of the Assam State Primary Teachers Association (ASPTA).