After almost six-months, schools in some states will reopen their gates to students of Classes 9-12 with a long list of rules to be followed as per the Covid-19 protocol announced in Unlock 4 by the central government.
In the Unlock 4 guidelines, the union home ministry had left the final call to the states to reopen schools from September 21, Monday but however, lay down a set of rules for schools to reopen. Students and teachers residing in containment zones are not permitted to attend schools. Schools are allowed to operate only with 50% teaching and non-teaching staff, while only students from classes 9 to 12 can attend, that too on a voluntary basis. Students who do decide to attend have to get a permission slip signed by their parents or guardians. schools that do decide to reopen will have to continue online classes for students who decide against attending physically.Students’ Safety to be Top Priority.
State-wise Status of School Reopening post Lock down
Karnataka- New notification states that no regular classes would be conducted in the state and therefore, students of classes 9 to 12 have been barred from visiting schools. In the new order issued by the state government, the Education Department has passed new guidelines which say “as the pandemic continues to rage the state, the state government felt it was not safe to call students to colleges or schools to meet teachers.” State Education Minister held a review meeting with officials from the education department, in which it was decided to roll-back the decision to allow students into schools starting from Monday.
Bihar-Bihar’s education department will hold a meeting on Tuesday to take a decision on reopening school in the state. During the meeting, the prevailing situation with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic in the state would be reviewed and decisions regarding school reopening would be taken.
Nagaland-The State Government of Nagaland has permitted the partial reopening of Schools from Monday i.e. 21st Sept 2020. students of Class 9 to 12 are allowed to visit schools on a “voluntary basis”, to seek academic guidance’ in line with Unlock 4.
Punjab- State government has decided to allow the reopening of higher education institutions from September 21 for PhD. scholars and postgraduate students pursuing technical and professional courses requiring experimental work. However, Punjab Govt has still put a blanket ban on reopening of schools, colleges, and coaching centers across the state.
Tamil Nadu- State Government decided shift-based classes would be allowed in the schools. there would not be any phased reopening in schools across Tamil Nadu. schools across the state for all classes would reopen simultaneously once the pandemic situation is under the control of the state.
Andhra Pradesh- State Government allowing partial reopening of schools for Class 9 and above students starting from 21st Sept 2020. Tomorrow onwards,Class 9 to 12 students from Andhra Pradesh will have the option to attend their classes either in an online format from home or opt to go for face-to-face classes that will be held at schools.
Himachal Pradesh- State Government has decided to go ahead with the partial reopening of schools in the state from 21st Sept 2020. In line with the Unlock 4.0 Guidelines, schools in HP would open only for Class 9 to 12 students for doubt solving sessions.
Delhi- DoE Delhi has announced that all the schools and educational institutes in the national capital would remain closed until 5th October 2020. During this period, online classes for students will continue through digital and other mediums as Home Ministry’s Unlock 4.0 Guidelines.
Meghalaya- State Govt has allowed the partial reopening of schools from 21st Sept onwards, in line with Home Ministry’s Unlock 4.0 Guidelines. State government has allowed the opening of schools only for scattered doubt solving sessions and no regular classes.
Goa-State Government is considering partial reopening of schools for Class 10 and Class 12 students from 2nd October onwards.
State government is planning to allow students to visit schools on a voluntary basis for doubt solving sessions with the teachers.
Chandigarh-Chandigarh are all set to reopen from 21st Sept 2020 for students of Class 9 and above. Parents of over 50% of students have expressed their consent to allow students for voluntary visits to the schools for guidance.
Assam- State Government released the Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs for students from Classes 9 to 12 for whom classes are set to resume in schools from 21st September 2020 onwards.
Gujarat- State Government has decided against the partial reopening of schools starting from 21st Sept 2020 for Class 9 and above students in the state. Government has decided to go ahead with the reopening of schools due to the rising number of COVID-19 infections.
Haryana- States Govt is planning to start in-person voluntary classes for school students from 21st Sept onwards. To ensure complete safety as well as the health and well-being of the students, the state government has put in place elaborate processes and protocols as well as sanctioned additional budget for the sanitization of schools.
Uttar Pradesh- Schools may remain completely closed for this month owing to the compelling circumstances presented by the pandemic. State government has already commenced the new academic session and is regularly holding online / virtual classes for students through Doordarshan UP for Class 10 and 12, and Swayambha channel for Class 9 and 11.
Uttarakhand- Schools in the state will remain closed until 30th Sept 2020. Currently, the Central Govt through Home Ministry’s Unlock 4.0 guidelines has allowed states to consider partial reopening of schools in the states for Class 9 and higher students, starting from 21st Sept 2020. However, the UK Govt is likely to keep schools closed in the state until 30th Sept 2020 owing to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Andhra Pradesh- State government, 50 percent teaching and 50 percent non-teaching staff have been allowed to attend school. In line with Unlock 4.0 Guidelines, students will also be allowed to visit schools for doubt solving sessions with written consent from their parents.
Jharkhand- State Government is also planning to reopen schools for students who are in Class 9 and above. as per a survey, only 27% of students in urban areas of the state have access to online classes and this number is even lower in rural areas. In line with these concerns, the state govt plans to reopen schools from 21st Sept onwards for classes 10 and 12 students.
Maharashtra- State government has decided to keep schools in the state closed until 30th Sept 2020. However, in line with Unlock 4.0 guidelines, it may allow students from class 9-12 to visit the schools for guidance on a voluntary basis.
SC to examine if universities can be sued under consumer law
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal, challenging a verdict of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which raised the question, whether an educational institution or university can be sued for deficiency in services under the consumer protection law.
A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, admitting the appeal, said: “Since there are divergent views of this court bearing on the subject as to whether an educational institution or University would be subject to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the appeal would require admission.” The order was passed by the top court on October 15.
The appeal has been filed by Manu Solanki and other students of a medical course against Vinayaka Mission University at Salem, Tamil Nadu.
The top court also asked advocate Soumyajit, representing the caveator university, to file the response within six weeks.
The students have alleged that the university has indulged into unfair trade practice and there was deficiency of service, as it induced them to take admission in a course on an assurance that requisite approvals from the authorities have been obtained.
In 2005-2006, the students were admitted in an offshore programme of two-year study in Thailand and two-and-a half year study in the university in India.
They were assured that the MBBS final degree is recognised by the Indian Government and Medical Council of India. However, after completion of studies in Thailand, the students were told to continue their course there. The students’ in their plea said they were informed that a Foreign Medical Degree will be conferred on them and they would have to appear for screening test in India.
The university had objected to the maintainability of this plea contending that petitioners are not consumers and education is not a commodity.
The university cited top court verdicts in the Maharishi Dayanand University and in the PT Koshy cases where it was held that education is not a commodity and educational institutions do not provide any kind of service.
As a result, there cannot be any deficiency of service to be adjudicated upon in consumer forum or commissions, the university had argued. However, the students contested this with other verdicts, which held educational institutions fall under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
In January, the NCDRC, in its verdict, had said that the institutions rendering education including vocational courses and activities undertaken during the process of pre-admission as well as post-admission and also imparting excursion tours, picnics, extra co-curricular activities, swimming, sport, etc. except coaching institutions, will, therefore, not be covered under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The students have appealed this verdict in the top court.
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