Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: With the Odisha government hinting at reopening of schools and colleges on a priority basis following a decline in the number of Covid-19 infections, all eyes are now on the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be adopted by the government to conduct classes amid the pandemic.

According to sources, the State School and Mass Education department is going to bring a set of SOPs for resumption of the physical classes. As there is fear of spread of Covid-19 infection, grapevine is that the government may adopt odd-even formula or conduct classes in several shifts to prevent gatherings. However, the extra shifts may increase the burden on the teachers.

Recently, the special relief commissioner (SRC) left it to the School and Mass Education department to take decision on the reopening of schools for students of Class IX to XII. The Directorate of Higher Secondary Education has also directed principals of all government/private Higher Secondary schools in State to sanitise and clean the institution campuses.

After the direction, sanitisation process has already been taken up across the State. Classrooms are being sanitised and accessories and amenities like functional drinking water, toilets, classrooms, laboratory and equipments being cleaned to bring them to pre-Covid situation.

Similarly, the Higher Education department has also given permission to universities to open laboratories only for research scholars (Ph.D), M.Phil students and post-graduate students in science and technology streams requiring laboratory and experimental works.

“Discussions and preparations of SOPs are underway and we will reveal the details about it at the right time,” School and Mass Education Minister Sameer Das said.

Ranjan Kumar Bal, principal, BJB Junior College, said, “Cleaning work is going on by outsourced agency. The classrooms are ready to begin classes.”

Harekrushna Giri, principal of Sulagna Residential Plus II Junior College, said, “Despite delay, it is a welcome step by the government. As per the direction, sanitisation work is in progress. When students come to the campus, more sanitisation will be carried out before they are allowed into the classrooms.”

Meanwhile, though online classes are being conducted by several educational institutions in the State, students are of the view as that there is little scope for clearance of doubts, so physical classes are necessary

“We cannot clear our doubts through online classes. Therefore, physical classes are very important for us. However, sanitisation and masks are crucial for students in order to fight the pandemic,” said Priya, a Plus II Arts student.

Pritam Jena, a Plus II student from science stream, said, “We are very happy that the colleges are going to reopen. It will immensely help us to get back on track before the board exams."

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)