31 Aug 2021: Telangana HC stays state government order to reopen schools
The Telangana High Court on Tuesday stayed a state government order directing all schools to reopen for offline classes from September 1. The HC held that schools are free to conduct both offline and online classes, but they cannot force parents to send children to offline classes. The court was hearing a PIL challenging a government order to reopen schools for all classes.
Details: HC halted reopening of residential schools
The HC also halted the reopening of government residential schools until further orders. In this regard, the court asked the government to file a counter affidavit by October 4 detailing measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the event of an outbreak following the reopening of schools. It held that consent forms sought from parents by schools have no legal validity.
Context: Children too young to maintain COVID-19 protocols: Plea
The state government had announced the reopening of schools for all classes from September 1. The PIL challenged the government's order, seeking to reverse the reopening of schools for students up to Class V. The PIL argued that the children are too young to maintain COVID-19 protocols. The court, however, decided to extend the scope of the PIL to include students till Class XII.
Fact: Children may carry COVID-19 home: Court
HC advocate Karam Komireddy told The Indian Express, "(The court) noted that cases are likely to peak in September-October. As there is no vaccine yet for children, there is every possibility that the child may be asymptomatic and may carry the virus home."
HC: Court seeks update on pediatric infrastructure
Notably, to tackle a possible third wave, the Centre had directed state governments to reserve 20% beds for children in all hospitals. Thus, the court asked for an update on the pediatric infrastructure in the state. It also sought to know whether the Disaster Management Committee was consulted on the order, noting that the order did not take schools and parents into confidence.
Government: Decision taken following requests from parents: Government
It has been almost one-and-a-half-year since schools had to shut in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Although offline classes resumed to some extent in February, the second wave forced schools to shut again. The government maintained that the decision to reopen schools was taken following requests from parents. It said that it will be beneficial for students facing psychological issues due to prolonged isolation.
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