November 24, 2020 10:08:50 am
Faced with a sharp rise in Covid cases and fatalities in the state, the Himachal Pradesh government on Monday reintroduced night curfew in four of the worst-hit districts for the next three weeks. Government schools and colleges will remain closed till the end of the year, and for the next three weeks, occupancy in buses and attendance in government offices has been restricted, the state Cabinet decided.
Night curfew from 8 pm to 6 am has been reimposed in Shimla, Mandi, Kangra and Kullu districts from November 24 to December 15. These four districts are currently the Covid hotspots of the state having the highest number of total as well as active cases. Shimla has 1,566 active cases, followed by Mandi (1,128), Kullu (973) and Kangra (770).
The total caseload of Himachal is more than 34,000, including more than 6,500 active cases and 546 deaths.
The state authorities believe the unconditional opening of the state’s borders two months ago followed by large social gatherings during the festive and wedding seasons are the major causes of the recent surge in Covid cases in the state.
Schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Himachal were allowed to reopen for students of classes IX-XII on November 2 after seven months of suspension, but were given a special vacation from November 11 to 25 following the Covid surge. The Cabinet has now decided that all government educational institutions will continue to remain closed for students till December 31. Online studies, however, will commence from November 26 and teachers will continue to work from home till further orders.
The offices of schools and colleges will function from November 26, and principals will be at liberty to call faculty members as per local requirements.
The Cabinet said that winter-closing educational institutions will remain closed from January 1 to February 12 but online studies will continue during the winter break. “The academic session in case of winter-closing schools will be extended and students of classes 1st to 4th and classes 6th and 7th will be promoted as per Right to Education provisions. As the students in winter-closing schools and colleges will not be attending classes, the winter vacation 2021-22 will be allowed to the teachers posted in these institutions,” said the Cabinet in a statement.
It was also decided that final examinations for classes 5th and 8th, and for classes 9th and 11th, will be held simultaneously for both winter and summer-closing schools in March 2021. Board examinations for 10th and 12th classes will be held in March 2021 for both winter- and summer-closing schools with 30 per cent relaxation in syllabus already carried out by the HP Board of School Education.
The state has also restricted the attendance of classes III and IV government employees to 50 per cent till December 31, and the maximum participation in social/political/cultural/sports gatherings to 200 people. A fine of Rs 1,000 has been imposed for not wearing face mask in public places, and all buses in the state will run with a maximum occupancy of 50 per cent till December 15.
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