Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced on Wednesday that in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, schools and colleges in the state will remain closed till the end of Durga Puja vacations.
This follows protests and concern by parents over the feasibility of opening up the educational institutions in the state.
The Durga Puja festival is slated to be held between October 22 and 26.
The chief minister declared this during a review meet on the Covid-19 situation in the state on Wednesday.
Patnaik announced that the decision was taken keeping in mind the safety of the children and the concerns of parents and students.
Schools and colleges have been closed since March 17 in view of the pandemic in the state, two days after the first coronavirus case was reported in the state, a source said.
The chief minister recently had joined political leaders and veterans in urging the Centre to postpone the JEE (Main) and NEET tests in view of the prevailing pandemic situation in the country.
He had written to Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, that in the current global crisis, “it would be highly unsafe and perilous for the students to visit the test centres physically”.
Rina Mohanty, the parent of a 10-year-old son, expressed relief at the decision.
“We do not want our children’s education to suffer and online classes are tough for the kids as they keep us occupied as well. However, their safety is paramount and we are most relieved that they will not have to travel to school everyday, increasing the risk of infection by Coronavirus.”
Other parents expressed similar views as well.
Bijat Panda, who has a 13-year-old daughter, said, “Though it is sad to see our children hooked to online classes and computers for such long periods of time, we understand that it is for their safety. Many states are reopening schools and colleges in September. We are glad our state government has taken the decision to keep schools and colleges closed till the Puja vacations.”
The state government also announced the move to reduce the school syllabi from classes I to XII by 30 per cent for this academic year.
State school and mass education minister Samir Ranjan Dash said the move to reduce the course material was recommended by the syllabus committee of the Board of Secondary Education (BSE), the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) authorities.
Altogether 60 lakh school students across Odisha will be affected, he added.
Meanwhile, the state health and family welfare department tweeted of having achieved a new milestone in Covid-19 recoveries, with 3,343 patients recovering in a single day.
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The number of Covid-19 cases in Odisha has crossed 87602, with 59,470 recoveries and 441 deaths.