The Gujarat government is likely to consider reopening schools only after Diwali, a senior official has said. Vinod Rao, secretary, state education department, said there was no immediate plan to reopen schools.
"We are not doing this immediately. We will consider reopening schools only after Diwali (vacation) after assessing the coronavirus situation," Rao told PTI on Saturday. He said the education department has been in touch with representatives of parents and school associations over the issue.
Diwali will be celebrated this year on November 14.
The state government had earlier decided against reopening schools from September 21 as per the Centre's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that allowed students to visit schools to take guidance from teachers with parents' permission.
As per the latest SOP, the Centre has allowed states and Union Territories to take a decision on reopening schools in a graded manner from October 15.
"The Centre's guideline to reopen schools from October 15 cannot be implemented in Gujarat given its COVID-19 situation. It will be too early to open schools, especially for students below Class 10," said Jatin Bharad, vice-president of the Self-financed Schools Management Association of Gujarat.
Even if the government and schools agree to resume classes, parents are unwilling, he said.
"If parents do not take responsibility, then schools are not going to do so, because they have to manage hundreds of students, and even one infected student can put them and their family members in danger," Bharad said.
If the situation improves in October, one can expect schools to reopen in the second half of November, after Diwali, he said.
Most parents are of the view that there is no point in reopening schools in the current academic year, and the government should consider promoting students to the next class, said Naresh Shah, president of the All Gujarat Parents' Association.
"Nearly half of the current academic year has already passed as schools remain closed. We have requested the state education minister to consider granting mass promotion to students so that they can begin their next academic calendar without any setback," Shah said.
"At the same time, the government should ensure that the board exams of Classes 10 and 12 are held on time in March next year," he said.