State governments have been given a free hand to reopen schools after 15 October under the Centre’s Unlock 5.0 guidelines announced by the Union home ministry on Wednesday. A decision on opening colleges would be taken later. Institutions that have doctoral and postgraduate researchers in science and technology streams that require laboratory work can also open.
The home ministry guidelines require state governments to reopen schools in a graded manner in consultation with the management of schools and based on their assessment of the situation. This flexibility to the states to decide on reopening schools, however, is contingent on six conditions listed by the Union home ministry.
1. Online and distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.
2. Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so.
3. Students may attend schools and institutions only with the written consent of parents.
4. Attendance must not be enforced and must depend entirely on parental consent.
5. States will prepare their own standard operating procedure regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools based on the procedures to be outlined by the Union education ministry.
6. Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by the state education department.
In Wednesday’s Unlock 5.0 guidelines, the Centre hasn’t spelt out its stand on reopening colleges and institutions of higher education. The timing of reopening colleges would be taken by the department of higher education in consultation with the Union home ministry based on the assessment of the situation, the guidelines said.
Online learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching for colleges and shall be encouraged.
Institutions with doctoral research scholars and post-graduate students in science and technology stream shall be permitted to open from 15 October.
The decision on reopening these institutions run by the central government would be taken by its head, who will have to satisfy himself/herself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars of the two streams to come for laboratory or experimental works.
The state government has been empowered to decide on reopening individual institutions under state and private universities for research scholars from the science and technology stream.