Two days after announcing the reopening of colleges and institutions of higher education from August 25, Tripura government on Tuesday decided to reopen schools from the same day, considering “reduction in the COVID test positivity rates” and “learning losses” that has already occurred.
A notification issued by elementary and secondary education director Chandni Chandran on Monday evening said the decision to start physical classes in Tripura for all students from the sixth to class 12 from August 25 was taken with the approval of the State Disaster Management Authority.
As per the notification, the class work would need to follow a set of modalities. In case schools functioning in a single shift don’t have adequate rooms for maintaining physical distancing, they are allowed to convert to double shift with half students in each shift in each of the classes. Concerned headmasters were asked to ensure that alternate seats are kept unoccupied in all cases.
The department has sorted shifting times for such schools from 8 am till 11 am as morning shift and 12 noon to 3 pm as afternoon shift.
Schools functioning in double shifts would need to make a roster for students with half students attending schools daily with alternate seats free and 10 per cent teacher attendance, the notification said.
Since classes are still suspended in the primary section, teachers previously engaged in those classes would be now deployed in the elementary and secondary sections for ‘Catch Up’ campaign of Nutan Disha.
Tripura announced ‘Nutan Disha’ (new direction) in 2019 to assess true educational status of students and best equip students studying from 3rd to 8th standard. It involved an educational assessment on each student of the state in the primary and elementary level and found that 57 per cent of schools students in class 3-8 could not read or solve basic arithmetic.
In May this year, a survey of the education department found that students had suffered 36 per cent educational loss since the onset of COVID in 2020, compared to progress achieved by a set of unique initiatives including sorting of students according to learning levels.
Headmasters and headmistresses of all schools were instructed to maintain compliance to all exiting COVID protocols like compulsory wearing of masks, social distancing, hygiene practices etc. District education officers would be checking out if the orders are properly upheld with inspection teams. The order would be applicable on all government, government-aided, un-aided, private schools and madrasas of Tripura including schools in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).
The order comes in the heels of another notification from the higher education department on August 21 which announced to reopen all institutions of higher education including general degree colleges, technical and professional colleges from August 25 for conducting classes in physical mode, albeit with a set of mandatory guidelines.
The notification said all principals and principal in-charges of such institutions would need to arrange for complete and effective sanitisation and ensure aggressive COVID-19 appropriate behaviour among students, faculty members, staff and visitors. Faculties were instructed to arrange for extra tutorial classes for students considering the loss of ongoing academic session due to COVID pandemic. As per the guidelines, any “convenient mode of teaching” was allowed by sparing extra time and holidays.
Schools and colleges in Tripura were first closed in March 2020 in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The institutes were reopened for a brief period in February this year but shut down once again on April 9 as COVID cases surged.
Tripura has around 4,400 government and government-aided schools across eight districts, including 132 English medium schools, 23 government degree colleges apart from two medical colleges, a National Institute of Technology (NIT), a state institute of technology, an NIIT, a private engineering college among other professional colleges like government law college, college of art and craft, music etc.