Sunday, 9 August, 2020

Reopening all schools on same date impossible: Govt


By Manjima Dhakal
Kathmandu, July 30: The government had announced to start this year’s school enrollment campaign from August 17, delayed by four months. In normal situation, classes used to begin15 days after the enrollment campaign started. But this year, school reopening date is still uncertain.
Although the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) has already asked schools to enroll the students from August 17, the Ministry is still in consultation with stakeholders regarding its plan to resume classes.
Tulsi Prasad Thapaliya, director general of Centre for Education and Human Resource Development (CEHRD) under the Ministry, said the Ministry could not fix the date to open schools because the COVID-19 fear still loomed large.
“It is not possible to reopen schools across the country simultaneously. The government is now consulting for contingency plans regarding different times to begin classes,” Thapaliya said.
“Therefore, it is not likely the schools will reopen across the country from August 31,” he added.
Now, the government has been planning to reopen schools in the green zone in the first phase from August 31. The government is planning to open schools mainly in the remote areas where there is less risk of infection.
Even if the schools open in some areas now, they may be closed after some time if the risk increases there, Thapaliya said.
Local governments start reopening schools at their own risk
Community schools in some districts have started classes by maintaining physical distance and other safety measures under the initiative of local governments though the federal government has not yet decided on schools reopening date.
Some schools in Jhapa, Tanahun, Dhading, and Lamjung have started their classes in different shifts by maintaining physical distance after the guardians demanded for that. The Ministry has not made any comment on the issue.
Gehanath Gautam, director of the CEHRD, said the centre was not saying anything about that after local governments started classes by taking risk.
Till now the centre has directed to facilitate the students in small groups if students lack access to any mode of learning.
What medics say
Dr. Rabindra Pandey, public health expert, said reopening schools in the red zone, mainly in border area with huge population and the city areas, is dangerous. But, schools of green zone and yellow zone could be opened taking precautions.
Schools in the remote areas where there is less risk of infection could run classes with care, Dr. Pandey said. He further said coronavirus spread highly in the community after schools were opened in China and Korea. Therefore, similar situation may arise here if the schools are allowed to open without precaution.
Physical distance of 6 feet, hand wash, mask should be made mandatory to reopen schools, he said.
About 7 million school children across the country have been staying home since March 15 after the government decided to close schools due to risk of coronavirus infection. 

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