West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said schools in the state will reopen after the puja vacations, provided the COVID-19 situation does not change for worse. She also said that a sanitisation drive will be conducted at the educational institutes before their campuses reopen for physical classes.
“Schools in Bengal will reopen after the puja (vacations), provided the situation is favourable. If the third wave does not turn out to be dangerous, we will sanitise the school buildings and reopen them. We are keen on restarting schools. We want students to go to schools,” Banerjee told reporters. Asserting that the COVID-19 situation in the state is currently “under control”, the chief minister further clarified that if the number of cases spikes, as it did in Maharashtra and Kerala, I am not sure what decisions would be taken then.
Earlier this month, the CM, following a meeting of the Global Advisory Board (GAB), headed by Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, had hinted that the state government is looking into the option of opening schools and colleges on alternate days after the puja vacation. Incidentally, another Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen, during a webinar on Sunday, said “there is no instant answer to the debate over the opening of school campuses amid the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Sen further said that children are suffering a lot as schools remain closed but concerns over their health cannot be ignored. Educational institutes in Bengal have largely remained shut since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country in March last year.