The Patna High Court has issued directions to the State to have a workable arrangement to take care of the health, nutritional and educational welfare of children in the State whose activities were affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic..The directions were issued after the Court took suo motu cognizance of a news item titled, “School shut, no mid-day meal, children in Bihar village back to work selling scrap” published in the Indian Express on July 6..While expressing deep concerns over the inadequate steps taken to provide food and education to the children across the State, the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar observed,."The story of the children of the State of Bihar cannot be one of schools to scraps."Patna High Court.The Court went on to remark, "Children are the wealth of this nation. Our failure, or delay in acting on the present situation could lead to incorrigible long-term consequences on the health, development, and general well-being of our children.".While bearing these interests in mind, the Bench has issued a number of directions to the State, which include:Continuing schemes like the Mid Day Meal and the Sarwa Shiksha Scheme to provide meals or ration as feasible along with textbooks and notebooks to government school students.Ensuring that statutory benefits under the Food Security Act are disbursed in a timely manner, and updated records are maintained for the same.Monitoring the nutritional health of children by leveraging the reach of Anganwadi workers, who can keep track of children's growth by recording the weight and height of children at regular intervals.Working with the experts to procure and prepare digital lectures for students of all classes and age-groups.Enhancing the role of Anganwadi and NGO workers in every district, to help spread the message of the importance of continuing education via remote learning platforms. Parents are to be educated, for ensuring the child's continuous engagement with education during the pandemic.Installing community-level television sets and distribution of radio sets, for ensuring the increase of reach of remote learning platforms. At community level, small batches of children can be shown lectures ontelevisions, while maintaining social distancing norms.Since mobile handset and telephone penetration in the State of Bihar is greater than Television and radio set penetration, theauthorities are to consider devising and implementing an action plan to utilize these mediums.To ensure engagement, authorities should consider expanding the possibility of waiver of telecom charges on the mobile handset or telephone being used for accessing educational programmes.Using Telecom/digital infrastructure to mark the daily attendance of students. A call placed on the designated toll-free number may be programmed to record the daily attendance of the concerned student.Organizing a robust “Back to School” campaign in the wake of this pandemic, to ensure that a minimal dropout rate is achieved.Workshops and training for teachers ought to be provided to ensure that they are well equipped in dealing with post-pandemic psychosocial needs of children..The High Court further added that the above directions, if implemented well, had the potential to provide immediate relief to more than 1 crore 19 lakh school-going children across the State..The High Court had earlier issued notice to the State government over this issue. The State, in its reply, cited the pandemic as the only reason for the closure of educational institutions. .Nonetheless, the Court went on to take up the issues for consideration and had appointed Advocate Chhaya Kirti as the amicus curiae..While discussing the intent behind the Mid-day meal programme, the High Court further observed that, ."Children have two requirements. First, is to keep their mind and body occupied with some engaging activity and second, to keep their stomachs fed."Patna High Court.Appreciating the State's efforts in giving an enhanced food allowance to approximately 1.19 crore students through March till July, the High Court said that this was a positive step in ensuring that enough financial resources were made available to parents to feed their children and maintain their nutritional standards. .Read the Judgment here.