The COVID-19 graph has plunged for a lot of fortunate Indian states. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Delhi, etc. are witnessing a fall in the number of fresh cases. In light of the improved COVID-19 situation, the UP government has decided to reopen schools for classes 1-8. Offline classes for grades 6-8 will commence from August 23 while for grades 1-5, classes will start from September 1. A few schools in Uttar Pradesh restarted with the offline mode of teaching from Monday for grades 9-12, in compliance with strict COVID measures. The COVID measures included adherence to social distancing, use of hand sanitisers and masks in the school premises.
Classes functioned with 50 per cent attendance in two shifts to safely accommodate every student. Reportedly, government officials are also observing the situation in schools closely to ensure that no one is violating COVID-19 norms. Other schools remarked that they too are gearing up to reopen on offline mode. “From August 23 after Rakshabandhan, resumption of teaching activity may be considered for classes 6 to 8, while the same could be considered for classes 1 to 5 from September 1,” the state government had previously remarked. The UP government will soon issue essential SOPs to ensure the smooth functioning of offline classes for students of grades 1-8.
Students will experience the reopening of schools in Uttar Pradesh after nearly one and a half years. Schools in the state have been shut since March 2020 when COVID-19 lockdown and related restrictions were first imposed in the entire country. Along with Uttar Pradesh, states like Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh, and Himachal Pradesh also reopened schools in the first week of August. Primary Schools in Tamil Nadu will resume functioning from the onset of the next month i.e. September 1st.
A week ago, students of Jadavpur University came together in solidarity to protest against the prolonged closure of educational institutions. They initiated offline classes outside the university main gate as part of their protest. Professors also showed their allegiance towards the students. The pandemic has greatly exposed the digital divide that exists between students from various sections of society. Many students lack internet access because of which they have been missing valuable lessons for more than a year. Students from rural areas and economically weaker sections of society have been at a disadvantage as digital access continues to be a luxury in India. Reopening schools could provide some respite to such thoroughly disadvantaged learners.