Covid-19: Bengal to launch neighborhood schools to counter impact of closures | Kolkata

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Schools in West Bengal were first closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic before being reopened in February 2021

CALCULATED: West Bengal Education Minister Bratya Basu will launch ‘Paray Shikshalay’ or open-air neighborhood schools for pre-primary and primary students on Monday, even though educational institutions remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials said about eight million students will benefit from the project.

The schools were first closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic before being reopened in February 2021 for grades 9 to 12. They were later closed due to the West Bengal Assembly elections and of the second wave of Covid-19 thereafter in the summer of 2021. Schools for grades 9-12 resumed in November 2021 and were closed again on January 3 due to the latest outbreak of Covid-19 cases.

“Even though the government may reopen schools for students in grade 9-12 for a while, students studying up to eighth grade have never been to school after March 2020. Classes are held in line. Students remained totally cut off from school education. It affected them badly. Community schools could solve this problem to some extent,” an official said.

Supriyo Bhattacharya, Secretary of State of the United Guardians Forum, said neighborhood schools cannot be the alternative to conventional schools. He said they were for students in public schools and asked what about those in private schools.

A public interest litigation was filed in the Calcutta High Court last week seeking the reopening of schools and colleges. The government is considering reopening upper secondary schools, colleges and universities as Covid-19 cases plummet. The daily tally of Covid-19 cases in the state crossed the 24,000 mark this month. On Sunday, 6,980 cases were detected, bringing the number of active cases to 1.3474. At least 36 people also died from the disease on Sunday.

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