MHA seeks states' feedback on reopening of schools

Consult stakeholders, send feedback: MHA to states on reopening schools, colleges

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The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked states to consult all stakeholders in education sector on the reopening of schools and colleges and send feedback to the Centre to enable it to take a decision on the schedule for re-starting academic activities.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla told Chief Secretaries that the feedback sent by the states would help in taking a "timely decision".

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According to the guidelines issued by the MHA for the lockdown, the phase II of unlocking of the country involves the reopening of schools, colleges and coaching centres among others. It has said that a decision will be taken in July after consultations with states and other stakeholders.

In his letter sent on Saturday, he said states and union territories have been asked to have consultations at the institution level with parents and other stakeholders. "You are advised to send the feedback on the consultations held, so that a timely decision can be taken for opening up of the educational institutions," he said.

Last week, the Centre had allowed the states to conduct exams for Class X and XII from May 25 with a few conditions like ensuring social distancing and wearing of masks by teachers and students.

Bhalla also said that there will be no restrictions on inter-state or intra-state movement of people and therefore, there is no need for separate approvals or e-passes. "However, in case you wish to regulate such movement, you are required to give wide publicity in advance," he said.

During lockdown 4.0, the government had allowed inter-state and intra-state travel but with consent of the states and Union territories involved. In the new guidelines, the Centre has withdrawn the clause for separate permission and e-passes for such travel.

The three-phased 'Unlock 1' guidelines issued by the MHA, which will come into effect from June 1, said that religious places, hotels and malls will start functioning from June 8 after the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare prepares the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in consultation with states.

The second phase is the reopening of educational institutions while the third phase, for which no specific timeline has been given, the government intends to open international air travel, Metro services, cinema halls and other entertainment avenues.

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