Schools for classes 8 to 12, colleges and universities would reopen in the state from 3 February as the Covid situation has improved, said chief minister Mamata Banerjee today while extending the Covid related restrictions for another 15 days along with offering relaxations for offices, restaurants and other activities.
“Classes for students studying in 8 to 12 will reopen from 3 February. As Saraswati Puja is on 4 February, students will be able to celebrate the festival at their schools this time. Universities, colleges. ITIs, polytechnics and all other academic institutions will also reopen from that day. For students of classes 5 to 7, we will hold Paray Shikshalaya under which teachers will hold classes for students in their respective localities. We are not considering reopening schools for primary students at the moment,” said Miss Banerjee after holding the state Cabinet meeting in Nabanna.
Schools were shut for the first time in March 2020 due to the pandemic and then reopened in February 2021 for classes 9 to 12. The institutes were again closed later due to the West Bengal Assembly elections and the second wave of Covid in summer of 2021. Schools for classes 9 to 12 resumed in November 2021 and were shut again on 3 January due to the latest surge in Covid cases.
Several forums of parents, teachers and heads of institutions are in favour of reopening the schools. The High Court is also hearing a PIL on the issue. The West Bengal Academy of Paediatricians have also written a letter to Miss Banerjee speaking in favour of reopening the academic institutions.
Miss Banerjee said that as Covid situation has improved in the state, the government has decided to offer more relaxations though the Covid related restrictions have been extended till 15 February.
Flights from Delhi and Mumbai will operate on a daily basis from now onwards. “The Mumbai-Kolkata and Delhi-Kolkata flights will operate daily while the UK-Kolkata flights will resume normal operations but passengers will have to conduct RT-PCR tests,” said Miss Banerjee. Metro train and local train services may operate with 75 instead of 50 per cent of the seating capacity.
The seating capacities in cinema halls, jatras, theatres, restaurants have been increased from 50 to 75 per cent. All cultural and political programmes will be allowed with 75 per cent capacity of the stadium but the restrictions on holding rallies and meetings on the road will remain limited to 200 people. Problems can arise if further relaxations are offered, moreover, directives of the election commission have to be followed as civic polls are round the corner, said Miss Banerjee.
Parks will also reopen from 1 February.
Seminars and meetings, as well as sports activities, will be permitted with a 75 per cent auditorium capacity instead of 50 per cent.
The state government has permitted marriage functions with 75 instead of 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity.