The Calcutta High Court on Thursday disposed of a PIL challenging the West Bengal government's decision to reopen schools for classes 9 to 12, observing that the petitioner is not affected by it in any way. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice R Bharadwaj said that parents or students may approach authorities if they have any issue over recommencement of on-campus classes.
Describing the West Bengal school education board's decision to reopen institutions from November 16 as "unscientific", a lawyer had filed a PIL before the high court seeking formation of an expert committee for reviewing the COVID-19 situation and offering necessary recommendations to the government, which could then decide on resumption of physical classes.
With students up to the age of 18 years yet to be vaccinated, there is possibility of COVID-19 transmission among them, he stated. The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education had on October 29 issued a notification stating that schools will reopen for students of classes IX to XII from November 16 amid adherence to certain COVID-19 protocols.
It specified different time slots for secondary and higher secondary students. Praying that the notice be quashed, the petitioner sought appointment of an expert committee which would assess the current situation and provide suggestions to the government. Meanwhile, welcoming the high court's decision, Education Minister Bratya Basu said that the government will leave it to the guardians and students to decide if online classes were to be attended.
"We welcome the order of the honourable high court. We have asked the schools to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are maintained and buildings sanitised," he said.