Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government is preparing to reopen schools from November 1 after a long shutdown forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To begin with the education department may allow only 25 per cent students in primary classes when schools reopen. Allowing only one-fourth students would ensure maintaining social distance between pupils.
There will be only two or three classes in a week for high school and higher secondary students in the schools.
The department is also contemplating a shift system for these classes subject to the facilities.
The Covid review committee meeting chaired by the chief minister had decided to start classes for students from first standard to seventh standard and those for 10th and 12th standards from November 1. The steps that are required to be taken to ensure the safety of students, teachers and other staff would be discussed in separate meetings to begin from Wednesday.
Senior officers of various departments including those of the health and transport will attend the meeting convened by the health department. A meeting will be held with the health experts to evaluate and analyse the serious results that would be available next week.
Earlier the experts had recommended that schools could be reopened if 70 percent of people develop antibodies.
The meetings to be held over the next few days will also discuss the challenges concerning the safety of students during transportation and the possibility of the spread of infection to other family members.
There are reports from some states regarding students contracting COVID-19 following the reopening of schools in the last couple of months. At some places the authorities had to shut down schools again as COVID-19 cases spread.
The health department will also discuss the ways and means to check, treat and manage the disease among children.
All students not to be forced to attend schools
Officials of the education department have realised that it is impossible to resume normal classes for all students at the moment. The priority would be to instill confidence among students and to provide guidelines for their studies. All students will not be forced to join classes.
Earlier, Education Minister V Sivankutty had made it clear that online classes will continue even after schools reopen.
Creating awareness among parents
Many parents have conveyed their apprehensions and fear about sending primary school children to schools as the pandemic still prevails. They are concerned whether the little children would be able to comply with the safety norms suggested by the authorities. Some school managements too have expressed similar concern.
All these issues would be taken into consideration before taking the final decision on the matter. Awareness will be created among parents about handling the situation, ahead of reopening of schools.
Higher Education Minister R Bindu has said that a decision on starting all classes in colleges from October 18 would be taken after examining all aspects.
The classes of degree and final-year PG students will start from October 4 and a decision on starting rest of the classes would be taken subsequently after examining the ground situation.
According to information received from the health department, 90 percent of college students in the state have been vaccinated so far. The college-wise data on vaccinated students is yet to be collected.
A high-level meeting will be convened in two days to discuss the steps to be taken for opening the colleges. A vaccination dive will be conducted along with the health department, the minister said.