A record number of children are not attending school for over 8 months because of closures mandated by governments in an attempt to slow the spread of the Chinese coronavirus. Now, with Assam recording reduced the number of cases, the state health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced the reopening of elementary schools in the state from January 1, 2021. Though Assam had allowed resumption of offline classes from Class 7 and above earlier in November, the offline junior classes had not yet started.
In a press conference at Janata Bhawan in Guwahati, Himanta Biswa Sarma stated that since the Covid-19 situation in the state is under control elementary schools will be reopened from the beginning of next year in a staggered manner. The detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the same will also be released.
Elementary schools to reopen from January 1, 2021, in a staggered manner. Detailed SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) will be released: Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam Health Minister pic.twitter.com/w8vYglw1ki— ANI (@ANI) November 30, 2020
“The Covid-19 situation in Assam is satisfactory and under control. But keeping in mind, the situation in other parts of India and the world, we are on alert. A survey by a weekly magazine has ranked Assam as the best state in Covid-19 management,” Sarma told journalists in Guwahati.
Decreasing coronavirus cases in Assam
Sarma informed that the number of positive cases has continuously gone down in November starting from 325 cases on an average daily in the first week of the month to 158 cases daily in the last week.
“Keeping in view the present situation, we have decided to allow the opening of elementary schools from kindergarten to Class 6 from January 1 and allow residential schools and colleges to allow final year students to stay in hostels from December 15,” he said.
Speaking on the government’s decision to reopen educational institutions the state health and education minister confirmed that the college hostels in the state will reopen from December 15 with several Covid-19 safety guidelines set into place.
The hostels across the state will open with certain limitations for the safety of the students, according to the minister, and only final year students will be allowed to enter the hostels initially to prevent overcrowding. Sarma further stated that some instructions regarding the cleaning and preparing of hostels that were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic have also been issued to the college and university principals.
All temporary Covid-19 care centres have been shut down due to reducing Covid-19 cases in Assam: Himanta Biswa Sarma
The minister stated that due to reducing cases of COVID-19, all temporary Covid-19 care centres have been shut down in Assam and the covid patients would now be treated in only three hospitals namely, Kalapahar Covid Care Hospital, Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH) and Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH). He confirmed that most new cases being recorded in the state are from outside and said that local transmission in very less in Assam.
Last month the minister had stated that the Covid-19 curve in the state has started to flatten. Nearly 5 per cent dip in the rate of positivity in the past six weeks prompted the Assam health department to make the claim.
Higher classes resumed from November in the state
“In September, our rate of positivity was 8 per cent. Now in the past few days, the average rate of positivity has come down to 3.5 per cent”, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters on October 13. He had also announced to reopen educational institutions for classes seven to the postgraduate level with certain restrictions in place from November 15, 2020. Private schools and coaching centres could reopen from November 2 and must follow the COVID regulations, however, each of them would have to remain in contact with the health department and periodic testing will be conducted in these institutes, Sarma had said.
With the anticipation of Covid vaccination drive to begin sometimes in January, the Assam government has constituted three committees to oversee the entire process. While the state-level task force will make sure the day-to-day activities are executed properly, the district level committee will ascertain that the procedure of vaccination in the district level is carried out unhindered.
Till Sunday, Assam had recorded 2,12,617 Covid-19 cases with 981 deaths. At present, there are 3,350 active cases in the state. The recovery rate is 98 per cent while the death rate is 0.46 per cent.