The Odisha government has decided to resume physical classes for standard 9 students in special schools across the state following a decline in COVID-19 cases.

The government has already allowed the resumption of classroom teaching in schools across the state for students of class 9.

The Department of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) has asked Collectors of 10 districts to reopen class 9 in Special Schools and hostels for students.

SSEPD Director Bratati Harichandan in a letter to the District Collectors of Balasore, Cuttack, Ganjam, Kalahandi, Koraput, Keonjhar, Puri, Kandhamal, Sundargarh and Khurda suggested to reopen schools for physically challenged student of Class 9 and reopen hostels.

"Steps may please be taken for reopening of Class 9 of Special Schools and hostels functioning thereunder subject to some conditions," Harichandan said in the letter.

With the available physical infrastructure in the special schools, the authorities are told to maintain Covid protocol and local Covid situation may be taken into account while reopening of schools and hostels, the letter said.

The Collectors have been asked to strictly follow the instructions issued by the School and Mass Education (S&ME) Department on reopening of schools and hostels.

District Social Security Officers (DSSOs) concerned may be instructed to regularly monitor the functioning of schools and hostels and submit a monthly report on the attendance of students and additional arrangement made if any for residential accommodation of the students keeping in view social distancing norms, an official said.

An officer preferably in the rank of Additional District Magistrate or Sub-collector may be deputed to personally visit the institution in their respective district and ensure that necessary safety procedures are implemented, the Director further mentioned in the letter.

The DSSOs have been asked to personally visit the institutions before reopening of special schools and submit a report regarding safety measures.

Earlier, the School and Mass Education Department had directed to reopen classroom teaching for class 9 students from August 16 with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols. The teaching hour for Class 9 students in all government schools now is from 9 am to 12.30 pm all days excluding Sundays and public holidays.

The students are allowed to attend the classes either on online mode or offline mode in consultation with their parents. Attendance is not mandatory for students in offline mode.

Meanwhile, the government has expedited the vaccination of school teachers and staff before reopening all classes.

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