Nepal | December 02, 2020

Local levels given authority to reopen schools

Himalayan News Service
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The government has given authority to the local levels to reopen schools, which had been closed for eight months due to the COV- ID-19 pandemic.

The Cabinet had, on November 5, endorsed the ‘School Operation Framework-2020, in the context of COVID-19’.

The framework gives authority to all the 753 local governments to allow schools under their jurisdiction to reopen or shut as per the COVID-19 situation and the capacity of schools.

All schools across the country have remained closed since March 18.

However, the task of reopening seems very daunting as school management committees of each private or public school are required to hold meetings with stakeholders, including guardians, activists, local clubs and leaders in relation to reopening schools.

If all the stakeholders agree to reopen schools, classes can be conducted safely despite the coronavirus threat. All the schools, however, need to seek permission from local governments before reopening.

Even after that, the local governments are required to coordinate with the District Disaster Management Centre to get approval for reopening schools as per the framework.

The district authorities will then study the virus threat in their districts and allow local governments to do so.

The framework also states that schools, teachers, parents and students should follow safety measures strictly as classes resume.

Many schools were converted into quarantine facilities after the government imposed the nationwide lockdown on March 24. The framework has accorded top priority to sanitisation of schools.

Moreover, each school management committee needs to provide details about how many students can be kept in the school when social distancing measures are adopted, the number of teachers, physical infrastructure and sanitation and hygiene facilities, among others.

Some schools have launched online classes or even physical classes to cover the syllabus of the current academic year, but these classes have not become so effective as the majority of students do not have access to such classes.

The local units are also provided with options among various modalities of school operation. Unlike in the pre-covid time, schools can now teach different grades at different times of the day or define certain days of the week for certain grades in a bid to reduce the number of students at a time. Likewise, the schools can also reduce the number of classes in a day or in a week.

The framework also asks schools to make necessary arrangements for conducting Grade XII examinations.

Activist Bidhya Nath Koirala said that the government had only tried to hide its incompetence by giving such authority to local governments in the present time of crisis.

A version of this article appears in print on November 19, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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