BHOPAL: Notwithstanding a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases across the state, the Madhya Pradesh government decided on Wednesday to reopen Class I to Class VIII schools from April 1.
The schools were closed in March 2020, after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown.
"The new academic session for schools always starts from April 1 and it will start from that date this year as well. The MP School Education Department has decided to start the new academic session from April 1, 2021 for all classes and schools, including Class I to Class VIII," the MP minister of state for school education Inder Singh Parmar said.
"In places where there is a spurt in COVID-19 cases, the matter will be decided by the school administration and teachers, but for remaining places, we're issuing directions to start the classes with all safety protocols and precautions. But students will be sent to school only after parents consent and the accountability of the schools too will be fixed," Parmar said. "We appeal the parents to safely bring their children to school to ensure that the education of their children remains unhindered in future."
"We're issuing directions that in case of schools which have space constraints, the classes can be run in two shifts after adopting COVID-19 safety guidelines," the minister maintained. Till now, schools were allowed only to operate classes for Class IX to Class XII students in the central Indian state.
Importantly, in December 2020, the state government had decided not to reopen schools for Class I to Class VIII students till March 31, 2021. Meanwhile, the school students parents bodies have opposed the government's move to reopen schools from April 1.
"We vehemently oppose the move, particularly when the COVID-19 cases are again on the rise in the state. Who'll take responsibility, the government or the schools, if the students contract the killer virus on reopening of schools? The state government is playing in the schools, particularly the private school's hands, which could prove hazardous for the health of students and their families. The government is now stating that sending students to schools after reopening on April 1 isn't compulsory, as the students can come to schools only after parents consent. But in the last few months, similar instructions were issued about Class IX to Class XII students. However, the reality is that private schools forced parents to send their children to schools," general secretary of MP School Students Parents body Prabodh Pandya said.
Importantly, over the last 10 days, there have been fresh spike COVID-19 cases in MP, particularly in Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur. According to the state COVID-19 health bulletin issued on Wednesday evening, 516 new cases were reported over the last 24 hours (positivity rate of 3.1 per cent), maximum 184 in Indore and 92 in Bhopal, followed by 30 in Jabalpur and 19 each in Khargone and Ujjain. Three deaths, one each in Indore, Bhopal and Ratlam were also reported over the last 24 hours. With this total positive cases in the state rose 2,66,043 and total deaths so far rose to 3877.