BENGALURU/TUMAKURU: BC Nagesh, minister for primary and secondary education, on Tuesday revealed schools in the districts will remain open and that they will be ordered closed only if the Covid-19 test positivity rate breaches the 5%-mark.
He said closures will be taluk specific and not a blanket decision across the district or state as was done during the first and second waves of the pandemic. The issue was discussed during a virtual meeting convened by chief minister Basavaraj Bommai to review the pandemic situation.
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“A decision was taken to empower DCs to decide on school closures based on reports of active cases by block education officers and taluk health officers,” said home minister Araga Jnanendra.
It was also decided to reserve beds in hospital wards and ICUs to treat Covid-positive children and conduct general health check-ups in schools once a fortnight.
Nagesh told reporters the prevailing situation does not warrant closure of schools as the government has been managing the situation with utmost seriousness and on an hourly basis. But if cases rise, he said instructions have been given to deputy commissioners to take a call depending on the situation in their respective districts.
“We have told them to consider taluks as a unit and not the entire district,” the minister said. “This means schools in only those taluks which report a positivity rate of more than 5% will be closed, and not schools in the entire district.”
He said infections among schoolchildren are “negligible”. As on Sunday, as many as 163 PU students and 640 students from schools had tested positive. Of them, 360 have recovered. Similarly, around 80 teachers have tested positive and 12 have recovered. “So, there is no need for parents to worry,” minister Nagesh said.
Nagesh said the positivity rate is between 0-1% in 134 taluks and 0% in a dozen taluks. “The positivity rate in Bengaluru may be high, but it is not the same in all 10 taluks of Tumakuru district or other parts of the state,” he said. Annual examinations The minister said considering experts’ projections that the third wave will peak by the middle of February and end by the last week of February, the chances of conducting annual examinations in schools and colleges at the end of March and April are high.
The minister said schools and colleges have been asked to be prepared to conduct regular on-campus exams this year as per schedule.
Last year, the government had cancelled primary and high school exams besides II PUC exams since the second wave peaked in April and May. Class 12 students were promoted based on scores in I PUC exams, while primary and high schools conducted exams online. However, the government held on-campus exams for SSLC students.