Telangana: After HC rap, govt hurries to put SOPs in place to reopen educational institutions

The court had called the government order “cryptic” as it did not have any specific guideline to be followed by the schools.

Hours after the Telangana High Court stayed the state government’s August 24 order on reopening all educational institutions and sought clarifications on Covid measures, the Education Department issued a memo with “certain clarifications” while reiterating the High Court’s directions.

The court also said parents shall not be forced to send their children to schools.

After the court order, the Director of School Education was directed to lay down the SOPs within one week to be followed by all schools conducting classes offline and give them wide publicity through print and electronic media. The court had called the government order “cryptic” as it did not have any specific guideline to be followed by the schools.

A memo from Sandeep Kumar Sultania, secretary to the government, stated all schools other than the government residential schools, social welfare schools, and tribal welfare schools with hostel facilities, are permitted to open from September 1, and “that no child shall be compelled by any school management to physically attend offline classes if his or her parent is not inclined to send the child to school.”

A division bench of the High Court had said the same while hearing a PIL on Tuesday. The court had said that schools are free to conduct classes in online or offline modes from September 1 but shall not pressurise parents to send their wards to school. Some schools had started collecting consent or an undertaking from parents before resuming offline classes.

The memo said it is left to the school management to “conduct either only offline or only online or both offline and online classes. Any undertaking obtained from parents by any school management absolving the school management of any liability if the child gets with the virus, while in school, shall not have any legal effect.”

The High Court, while halting the reopening of residential schools until further orders, had also sought a detailed counter affidavit from the government on its preparedness to deal with a possible third wave of Covid-19 and precautionary measures in place.

Educational institutes across the state have remained mostly shut for nearly 18 months since the beginning of the pandemic last year. Although physical classes resumed for a few weeks in February this year, the second Covid wave shut schools again. Announcing the reopening of schools from September 1, the government maintained that the decision was taken following requests from parents and in the interest of students who have been facing psychological issues due to the prolonged isolation.

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