The Odisha government on Saturday announced its decision to allow schools to reopen for Classes 9 to 12 in a graded manner from 16 November. However, the official notification added that higher institutions will only be allowed to open for research and post-graduate students in the Science stream.
Regarding the opening of schools, the statement said SOPs for the same will be issued soon. "The classes of 9th to 12th standard in schools under control of School and Mass Education Department will open from 16 November as per guidelines or standard operating procedure (SOP) to be issued by the department."
"School and Mass Education and Higher Education department may permit teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to schools for online teaching, tele-counselling and related work in areas outside containment zones only as per SOP issued by Union Ministries of Education and Health and Family Welfare," the guideline added.
Additionally, the government has also permitted the conduction of exams and administrative activities, The Hindu reported.
Schools across the country were shut after the imposition of the COVID-19-induced lockdown in March. Students have been attending classes online since July, however, unlike some states, the digital lectures have not been successful in Odisha due to poor internet connectivity, the report added.
Odisha education minister Samir Ranjan Das was quoted by the report as saying that "only 22 lakh out of 60 lakh students had access to online classes".
"The number dropped again as parents returned to their workplaces with the family's only smartphones following the lifting of lockdown. Apart from broadcast classes through televisions and online classes through smartphones and computers, the department tried to tap into radios to reach out to students stranded in their villages during pandemic," the report said.
Additionally, the state government made announcements regarding temples and events like marriages and funerals.
The Times of India reported that the government lifted the complete restrictions on opening of places of worship and allowed district authorities to take a call the matter. The report quoted sources as saying that "smaller temples are likely to be opened to the public while the decision in bigger shrines such as the Jagannath temple in Puri may take time".
While number of attendees allowed at marriages and funerals has been extended to 200 and 50 respectively, cinema halls and swimming pools will continue to remain shut.
Odisha's COVID-19 caseload on Saturday mounted to 2,90,116 after 1,470 people tested positive in 24 hours, while 12 more casualties pushed the toll to 1,320, a health department official said.
Of the fresh infections detected in all the 30 districts, 853 were reported from different quarantine centres, the remaining being local contact cases.
With inputs from agencies