With COVID-19 cases declining, Karnataka government on Monday permitted re-opening of schools for students of classes 1 to 5 from October 25 by strictly adhering to precautions and guidelines against the coronavirus.
Also, the government announced certain relaxations for international arrivals at airports while allowing certain activities like throwing open swimming pools with certain conditions.
"Class from 1st to 5th standards permitted to re-open from October 25, 2021, by strictly adhering to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and SOPs issued by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education. Parental consent letter for physical classes is mandatory," an order issued by Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar said.
It has laid down certain rules such as screening for COVID-19 symptoms on entry, 50 per cent of the capacity in a classroom, provision of hand sanitizers, physical distancing of a minimum of one metre as practically feasible, no crowding, particularly at school entry and exit, and disinfecting classrooms and restrooms daily using 1 per cent sodium hypochlorite solution.
Only teachers and staff who have been vaccinated with two doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be allowed in classes 1 to 5, it said. There shall be additional use of face shield by teachers who are over 50 years of age.
"The operational guidelines on re-opening of classes I to 5 will be issued by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education," it added.
The government re-opened schools for students of classes 6 to 8 from September 6 and for students of classes 9 to 12 from August 23.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee has given its report and a decision on re-opening schools for students from classes one to five would be announced soon.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh said SOP would be sent to all the schools probably by Wednesday, the day being a public holiday, officials also have been asked to take extra precaution as the children are too young.
Stating that schools have been functioning for higher classes for the last one-and-a-half months now, and there has not been even a single case of a child being infected by COVID because of attending school, the Minister told parents that they can send children to school without any fear, and that cases are also declining.
According to the order, the current COVID-19 situation in the State was reviewed on October 17 by the TAC, which, after considering consistent decline in number of daily cases, test positivity rate and overall decline in active cases, recommended opening up of more activities.
The government has permitted swimming pools to operate stipulated to conditions like- 50 per cent capacity of each batch shall be allowed, with a display of the number allowable at entrance.
At entry, all shall be screened for fever and respiratory symptoms, only asymptomatic and those with two-dose vaccination certificates shall be allowed, it said, adding that after every batch-the rest rooms, walkways, and other common areas used by the swimmers shall be disinfected using 1 per cent sodium hypochlorite solution.
Further easing operations at the airports in Karnataka for international arrivals, the government has decided to discontinue SP02 routine check (except in cases of fever, cough, cold, difficulty in breathing, etc).
Also, it has been decided to discontinue RT-PCR test report checking on arrival except for those from selected countries, notified by the Centre, to be conducted at the airport, it said. Instead, there would be mandatory uploading of RT-PCR report in the Air Suvidha portal by the passenger and checking of the same would be done by the airlines concerned before the passenger boards.
However, with respect to the protocol of quarantine for arrivals from the United Kingdom, it said the prevailing guidelines issued by the Union Ministry would be followed. "Clarification regarding the same will be issued by the Department of Health and Family Welfare," it said.