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Plan to reopen schools from July 1 not final: TS informs HC

HYDERABAD: The State government on Wednesday submitted to the High Court that the decision on reopening of schools was yet to be finalised and deliberations were going on to take a final call on the issue.

Secretary of state education department Sandeep Kumar Sultania appeared before the court and assured that there was no compulsion on the parents to send their wards to schools physically from July 1 and said a final decision was not taken on the issue and as deliberations were still going. The High Court recorded his statement and issued notices to the government to make clear its stand on reopening of educational institutions.
 A division bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy was dealing with a batch of public interest litigations (PILS) on Covid-19, which also dealt with an interim application filed to quash the GO. 121 on the ground that the state was not yet prepared to tackle the third wave of Coronavirus in the state. GO. 121 was issued on June 19, which directed the officials to reopen schools and colleges for conducting physical classes from July 1.

Ravichander, senior counsel appearing for the petitioner in one of the PILs, sought a direction to quash the GO stating that there was no information from the Telangana government as to what steps it had put in place, if the 3rd wave of Coronavirus hit the state.  He brought to the notice of the court the opinions of experts and scientists, who anticipated the third wave would be more impactful on children and could be fatal. He further pointed out that though the medical and health department website showed that only 24 beds were allocated to Niloufer Hospital, the state, contrary to this figure, informed the court that 2,000 beds had been allocated to the hospital. 
The court expressed its dissatisfaction over the decision in issuing a GO. 121 and summoned the secretary of the education department to directly know how the government came to the decision to reopen all educational institutions in the state from July 1.

Replying to questions raised by Justice Kohli, Sandeep Kumar Sultania answered that it was not the final decision and the government was thinking of conducting the classes for high school students only.

He answered online classes would be conducted from July 1 and if offline classes would be conducted to the higher classes, there was no compulsory attendance binding on the students. Recalling the classes conducted for high school students in February this year, he submitted that without the approval of parents, there was no compulsion to attend the physical classes.
Sultania assured the court in two days a decision would be taken on whether physical classes would be conducted. He also said that there were suggestions to postpone physical classes to the lower classes from 1 to 7. The court recorded his statements and sought the stand of the government in reopening of schools.