The Karnataka government on Monday decided not to reopen schools and pre-university colleges in December due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation.
A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa in this regard decided to meet again by the third week of December to discuss the future course of action,on the recommendation from experts and the health department.
“All education experts, health department and experts have opined that a discussion about opening schools and pre university colleges should be held by December end.. this is not the time as COVID cases may rise and may affect the students,” Yediyurappa said.
The schools have remained closed since March when the national lockdown was first enforced to combat COVID-19.
The meeting, he told reporters later, unanimously decided to meet again by December end to decide on the future course of action and not to reopen schools and pre-university colleges until then.
The Chief Minister said not even five per cent students are attending classes in Degree and engineering colleges that were reopened on November 17.
The meeting was attended by Primary and Secondary Education minister S Suresh Kumar, officials of education, health, rural development and transport departments, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, and experts.
Health Minister K Sudhakar attended the meeting virtually.
Suresh Kumar said the Chief Minister took the decision as ultimately, saving lives was more important by honouring the advice of the health department The Education Department would implement the decision.
However classes through public broadcaster- “Samveda”, and other means like online would continue.
He said there were two opinions on the matter in the state — one not to open schools and the other that if it was not done, students in rural areas would face difficulties and their plight should be taken care of.
The department had held consultations with all stakeholders in this regard after which it was decided to hold a meeting under the CM’s leadership and also seek the health department’s advice, Kumar said.
The Health Minister informed the meeting that the Technical Advisory Committee for COVID-19, comprising about 14 medical experts, had recommended not to reopen schools and PU colleges in December.
Proceedings of the Committee meeting shared with the media said COVID-19 infections were on a declining trend with around 1,700 cases and 20 deaths reported daily and it was important to consolidate this gain made after great efforts in the last eight months to contain the disease.
It said, however, currently there is a spike/resurgence of cases in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and other states.
Besides, the cold weather in December and January was conducive to occurrence and spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, it said, adding that the epidemiological perspective based on state-wide survey in September was there may be a spike in cases in districts with low prevalence.