[COVID-19] Reopening of schools should not turn out to be super spreader: Karnataka High Court to State

The Court's observations came after the Karnataka government informed the High Court that all government and aided schools will reopen today for classes 9 and 10, in a phased manner.

The Karnataka government on Monday informed the Karnataka High Court that all government and aided schools will reopen today for classes 9 and 10, in a phased manner.

However, a Division Bench of BV Nagarathna and Krishna P Bhat expressed concerns on whether such a move could actually backfire.

"This [COVID-19] is going to spread actually, that's why we did not indicate a date for reopening of schools. Corona has not vanished........Opening of school is easy but it should not be a super spreader."

The Court was hearing a plea seeking re-opening of schools which have remained shut on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The State government further submitted that classes would be held during the first half of the day and that option would be available for the children and parents to appear physically or via online class.

Hearing this, the Court said that surprise visits will have to be made by member secretaries of District Legal Services Authorities to ensure that schools are taking necessary precautions to keep the virus at bay.

"We have perused the circular dated August 16, 2021 which incorporates standard operating procedure to ensure prevention of spread of COVID-19 in schools. State and officers directed to ensure that there is a mechanism of instruction and supervision that is put in place to ensure that SOP is being followed by educational institutions. In the aforesaid context, member secretary of Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) to direct all member secretaries of District legal services Authority to make inspections in government and aided institutions/schools on random basis...."

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The member secretary of the KSLSA will have to seek data from member secretaries of all District Legal Services Authority on the functioning of schools and compile the same in the form of a report, which should be submitted before August 30, the Court added.

The Court further asked whether mid-day meals would be provided to school children once the schools reopen.

When asked on details regarding the number of school staff vaccinated (both teaching and non-teaching staff), the State sought more time to respond to the same.

Accordingly, the Court asked the State to place the details on record before August 30 when the matter will be next heard.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news