KOLKATA: The West Bengal government is not mulling over changes in its stated position of not starting classes in schools till the coronavirus pandemic situation improves, Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said on Thursday.
The remarks came after the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) wrote to the chief ministers to allow schools to reopen partially from January, especially for students who will appear for ICSE and ISC examinations.
"Our decision remains the same. No plan to change that," Chatterjee said.
"If any decision has to be taken, it can be only done by the chief minister."
The West Bengal government has been saying it cannot allow opening of schools and expose students to the contagion.
It had recently said school curriculum in secondary and plus-two levels would be curtailed and classes would be conducted online as of now.
In the letter, board chief executive Gerry Arathoon said: "For the final run-up to the examinations, CISCE has requested the chief ministers of all state governments and UTs to allow schools to reopen partially, specifically for the students of classes 10 and 12 from January, 2021."
"With the students physically attending school, this time will be utilised for practical work, project work, SUPW work and for doubt clearing lessons," Arathoon said.
"This will be extremely beneficial to the students who will now get the time to interact directly with their teachers."
The council has also written to the Chief Election Commissioner of India to share the poll schedule of the states where elections are due in April and May so the datesheet for board exams can be finalised accordingly.
"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all schools have been closed from March 2020 till date. However, despite the closure, most of our schools have continued with the teaching and learning process in an online, offline or blended manner, as indicated by a survey conducted by CISCE on the status of online teaching, assessment and completion of syllabus," said Gerry Arathoon, Chief Executive of CISCE.
"For the final run-up to the examinations, CISCE has requested the chief ministers of all state governments and UTs to allow schools to reopen partially, specifically for the students of classes 10and 12 from January, 2021," he said.
"With the students physically attending school, this time will be utilised for practical work, project work, SUPW work and for doubt clearing lessons. This will be extremely beneficial to the students who will now get the time to interact directly with their teachers," he added.
Arathoon asserted that if allowed to reopen, the schools will be informed to follow the directives of the state government regarding COVID-19 and to conform to the safety guidelines and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the health department to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"CISCE has also requested the Chief Election Commissioner of India to share the election dates of the states that are due to have their elections in the months of April - May next year," he said.
"This will enable CISCE to finalise the schedules for ICSE-Class 10 and ISC-Class 12 year 2021 examinations and to ensure that there are no clash of dates, interruption of the examinations or any inconvenience that may be faced by the candidates taking these examinations," he added.
Schools across the country were closed in March to contain the spread of COVID-19 and partially reopened in some states from October 15.
However, a few states decided to keep them closed in view of a spike in infections.
The board had to cancel its pending exams in March view of the spike in COVID-19 cases and the result was declared on the basis of an alternative assessment scheme.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) too is yet to take a decision on the schedule for conducting board exams next year.
However, the board has ruled out conducting online exams and has clarified that the board exams will be in pen and paper mode only.