High schools and pre-university colleges in Karnataka are gearing up to welcome students back on campuses from Monday after a gap of nearly 18 months. Whiles classes IX and X will open in schools, pre-university colleges conduct classes equivalent to grades XI and XII. All institutes are required to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the government has taken “extreme care” to ensure that classroom learning is carried out safely and preparations have been made accordingly to instil confidence in students and parents.
“The government has given special instructions and standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been issued to government, aided and private institutions permitting them to resume classes physically. As decided earlier, classes will resume only in districts where the test positivity rate is below 2 per cent,” he said.
Top sources in the office of Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh confirmed to The Indian Express that classes will resume in all districts except Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Hassan.
“As the government has decided to resume offline classes based on the recommendations by the Covid-19 technical advisory committee, teachers and non-teaching staff at all institutions have been instructed to ensure all related SOPs, issued separately for schools and PU colleges, are followed,” Nagesh said.
Meanwhile, ministers and officials from the Education and Health Departments have urged parents who have not been vaccinated yet to register for the same. District administrations have been ensuring that all teaching and non-teaching staff have received at least their first Covid vaccine shot before classes reopen.
In some districts like Mandya, school teachers have been instructed to furnish a negative RT-PCR report on Monday even if they have taken both shots of the vaccine. “Negative Covid test reports are mandatory for teachers reporting to work on Monday,” said Minister K C Narayana Gowda, who has been overseeing pandemic-related activities in the district.
Gowda, who is also the Minister for Sports and Youth Empowerment, advised schools to set aside an hour daily for sports, urging teachers to record the health status of each student.
Meanwhile, some private schools in Bengaluru have carried out surveys to determine how academic sessions can be continued. “In a survey, we asked parents if they would want to send their children for in-person classes, and around 60 per cent said they would opt for physical classes. There is still a significant 40 per cent of parents who would like online classes to continue,” said Sridhar G, founder of Deeksha. Private schools in urban areas are expected to stick to the blended learning format for at least another term.
Ekya Schools have decided to limit physical classes to two days a week initially. Classes will be held online on other days, school authorities said. “Our campuses have enough space to accommodate a large number of students. Based on the number of students, classes will be conducted in the auditorium or open spaces keeping social distancing in mind. The campuses are thoroughly cleaned and sanitised. We have also set up isolation units in case any student starts feeling unwell or shows symptoms,” said Ayesha Sirajuddin, head of South Campuses, Ekya Schools.
While Chief Minister Bommai and Minister Nagesh are expected to visit a couple of schools and PU colleges in Bengaluru on Monday, ministers stationed across different districts have also been directed to do the same to “oversee smooth functioning” and “instil confidence among students, teachers, and parents.”