Schools, colleges to reopen in Bihar from Monday; Govt issues safety guidelines

Educational institutions including schools, colleges, universities, coaching institutes will reopen in Bihar from Monday after a gap of over nine months since the outbreak of COVID pandemic.

Slide in number of coronavirus cases and high recovery rate of 97.61 per cent in the state seem to have boosted the confidence to resume studies physically in the educational institutions.

However, the classes will operate only at half the strength of the total students and other protocols of coronavirus have to be followed strictly, Education Department Principal Secretary Sanjay Kumar told PTI on Sunday.

As per the health departments bulletin, the state had till Saturday recorded 2,53,651 COVID-19 cases out of which 2,47,579 people have recovered from the contagion, thus taking its recovery rate to 97.61 per cent.

The state has 4669 active cases with COVID-19 death toll mounting to 1403, the bulletin said.

The state government has issued a list of COVID-19 safety guidelines for students and staff to follow in the schools, colleges and other education institutions resuming operation from Monday.

Notably, the decision to reopen educational institutions including schools, both government and private, for class IX to XII from January 4, 2021 was taken at a meeting of Crisis Management Group (CMG) on December 18, 2020.

The schools, which will open for class IX to XII, will be run with only 50 per cent strength in order to maintain social distancing in the classrooms besides wearing masks on the campus.

“Wearing mask for all school students on the campus has been made mandatory without which they will not be allowed to enter the premises. Besides, classes from IX to XII will be run with 50 per cent strength in order to ensure that social distancing is maintained inside the classrooms.

“This means only half the strength of a class will join physical session at a time,” Kumar said.

Two masks each will be distributed among the school children, he said and added that teaching faculty will be made aware about the COVID-19 guidelines to be followed in the classroom.

The institutes management will ensure and maintain cleanliness and sanitation on their campuses, Kumar said while adding that “school authorities will keep a tab on whether any student is suffering from fever or having any symptoms of the virus.” The medical examination of students will be conducted on “random” basis in government schools, the Principal Secretary said.

The coaching centres will have to submit a plan on starting physical classes while maintaining social distancing inside the classrooms to the regional officer and seek prior permissions from him, sources said.

The Bihar government had on March 13, 2020 announced the closure of all schools, colleges, coaching institutes, zoos and public parks till March 31 as a precautionary measure against coronavirus pandemic.

The educational institutions remained closed since the state government enforced a statewide lockdown on March 22, 2020 followed by the centres nationwide lockdown announced on March 25, 2020.

The educational centres remained closed following the rising numbers of COVID cases.

Earlier, the state govenrment had announced to reopen schools from classes IX to XII from September 28, 2020 but due to rising COVID-19 cases the schools were remained shut.

After reviewing the situation and obtaining proper feedback on how things went during the past 15 days, the government will take a call on resuming physical classes for the students of class VIII and below on January 18, the Principal Secretary said.

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