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Caution call over reopening schools in Assam

This follows Dispur’s plan to resume classes for X and XII students between June 1 and 15
Lurinjyoti Gogoi

Manoj Kumar Ojha   |   Doomdooma   |   Published 27.05.20, 08:18 PM

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on Wednesday said the government should not take a hasty decision on reopening schools and colleges as it may have an impact worse than the “sudden move” to impose the nationwide lockdown, evident from the plight of migrant workers.

Those associated with the education sector also urged the government not to rush into a decision which it may regret later, following Dispur’s plan to resume classes for X and XII students between June 1 and 15, at a time when the state has seen an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases.

Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said the state government has moved the Centre to consider its plan in order to reduce academic loss. Classes in educational institutions across the state have been suspended since mid-March owing to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“There is a rapid increase in Covid-19 positive cases. The government should not take a decision in a hurry as it may have horrifying consequences. It will be illogical too as the government is turning colleges and schools into quarantine centres. The government must ensure there is no academic loss but safety of students and teachers cannot be compromised. If those kept in quarantine centres infect students and teachers, there is every possibility of community transmission. We need to prevent this,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi told The Telegraph.

He then drew attention to the Centre’s “sudden” lockdown decision and the adverse impact it has had on the migrant population.

“The adverse effect of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden lockdown decision is an open secret. The suffering of migrant workers is there for all us to see. Something similar should not be repeated in the education sector. What is the hurry when it has been decided that there will be no summer vacation and holidays will be curtailed? Apart from Covid-19, several districts are also facing floods. A decision on reopening should be taken after weighing all the pros and cons,” he said.

Sanjay K. Gupta, founder of Care North East Foundation and managing director of Learners’ Educational Institutions, said, “I would strongly suggest not to open the educational institutions immediately but think of offering an alternative mode of learning like continuing with/improving online classes. Let’s not waste the gains of the lockdown as we did by not factoring in the needs of migrant workers.”

Veteran teacher Abhijit Khataniar feels classes should not resume till things are under control. “It is too risky to open educational institutions at this moment because we are dealing with students, most of whom will not adhere to social distancing, once they are out of the teacher’s sight,” he said.

An academician from lower Assam said he is for reopening of institutions at the earliest but he will not allow his ward to attend classes because it is not safe to keep students and quarantined people together in the same campus.

“I have seen how there is no social distancing in quarantine centres. There are also issues with sanitation. God forbid if one student or faculty is affected. I would rather prefer my son to continue with online classes than expose him to the virus. It is too risky now,” he said.

There were many who felt that before reopening, schools and colleges need to be properly sanitised and running water to wash hands and clean toilets should be installed. “The government or institutes should see if automatic sanitiser machines could be installed just like metal detectors at public places,” a teacher said.

Additional reporting by our special correspondent in Guwahati

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