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Karnataka govt decides not to reopen schools, PU colleges on December 1

"Experts have recommended that a decision on reopening schools and PU colleges should not be taken until December end. An appropriate decision will be taken then," CM B S Yediyurappa said.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: November 24, 2020 8:05:10 am
CM 2020CM B S Yediyurappa holding a meeting with with Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, and heads of various departments in Bengaluru today. Express Photo

The Karnataka government Monday decided not to reopen schools and pre-university colleges on December 1. According to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, the government “shall review the Covid-19 situation during the third week of December” to decide when to resume offline classes.

“Experts have recommended that a decision on reopening schools and PU colleges should not be taken until December end. An appropriate decision will be taken then,” Yediyurappa said in Bengaluru. The CM had convened a meeting with Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, and heads of various departments related to the same before announcing the decision. Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar joined the meeting online supporting expressing his views on the Covid-19 technical advisory committee (TAC) recommendations.

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Earlier, TAC had recommended against reopening schools on December 1. “After extensive deliberations, it was unanimously resolved that ‘not to reopen the schools in December.’ However, the scenario of COVID-19 in the state shall be reviewed in the last week of December to consider reopening of schools at an appropriate time subsequently,” a statement issued by TAC read.

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Explaining the factors behind the decision, epidemiologist Dr Giridhar R Babu — a TAC member who was also among the team of principal investigators of the serosurvey — told Indianexpress.com that the state is yet to determine robust evidence in the peak going down. “We are yet to figure out the effect that the festival season might have had on the Covid-19 situation in Karnataka. The likely shift in cases from the urban conglomeration in Bengaluru to other districts also need to be determined to recommend reopening of schools safe for all,” he said.

However, the committee noted that the current scenario of COVID-19 in the state is showing a declining trend with around 1,700 cases and 20 deaths reported daily. “It is important to consolidate this gain that is made after great efforts in this last eight months to contain the disease in the state,” members of the committee observed.

Dr Babu added that the TAC will, in the meanwhile, continue to monitor and review Covid-19 data from across the state. “With the enhancement of testing recommended in areas where the surge is likely in the coming days, we will be able to get a clearer picture.”

Meanwhile, another senior member of the committee said, “While children are often termed to be in the low-risk category, the possibility of them spreading the infection to parents and grandparents at home cannot be denied. Upgrading health facilities available in north Karnataka to offer ICU and related facilities in bigger numbers in such situations can also burden the health system.”

At the same time, D Shashikumar, general secretary of the Karnataka Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools (KAMS) suggested that the government should look into their recommendations of resuming offline classes for students in class 9 and above. “The government should consider issuing comprehensive standard operating procedures to implement the same in a safe and secure manner.”

He added, “There are several issues including minimum admissions, balance of fee to be paid by parents from the previous academic year, and clarification from the government on several issues. While most private schools have been offering online classes since June, most parents have not paid any fee citing various government orders. This has put managements to a deep financial burden.”

Earlier on Sunday, Health Minister Sudhakar said the state government might close degree, engineering, and diploma colleges again if Covid-19 cases see a rise again. The colleges were reopened on November 17 after eight months of closure due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

“If the cases go up, then, as you have said in your (media) reports, we will have to go for a shutdown once again. There is no alternative,” Sudhakar told reporters in Dharwad while responding to queries about the rising coronavirus cases among students.

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