Hyderabad: Telangana High Court stayed government's order to re-open all residential educational institutions from September 1, 2021 onwards. The state had earlier issued orders directing all schools to hold physical classes.
'No student from any private or government school, irrespective of the standard/grade, shall be compelled to attend physical classes. However private and government schools are allowed to function as per schedule, i.e there are free to hold online or offline classes. But no pressure on the children to attend physical school, the court said.
The High court however stayed the re-opening of all social welfare residential schools having a hostel facility, until further orders.
The government has been asked to file a counter affidavit by October 4 to explain in detail what measure it has taken to protect the interest of the children in these hostels.
"Your GO regarding reopening schools from 1 September is cryptic and you [the government] issued the GO without holding any deliberations to with schools" - Telangana High Court— Karam Komireddy (@KaramKomi) August 31, 2021
"Your GO regarding reopening schools from 1 September is cryptic and you [the government] issued the GO without holding any deliberations to with schools" - Telangana High Court
The court was hearing public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the government order to reopen schools from September 1. The PIL was only concerning the re-opening of the schools from pre-primary to class 5. However, the High court taking note of the matter expanded the scope of the PIL to all classes up to higher secondary level.
The acting chief justice of Telangana High Court M.S Ramachandra Rao, raised some important issues during the course of the hearing. "There is a high possibility of carrying the virus and passing it on to the parents and grandparents . Children's education may be important, but health is more important," the court said. The court said in Zilla Parishad schools there are only three toilets for 1000 students. "People fear that children may get infected," it said.
"Are you telling us nobody died due to Covid in Telangana, if you say that you are disrespecting the dead" - the Hon'ble Acting Chief Justice of Telangana High Court to the State.— Karam Komireddy (@KaramKomi) August 31, 2021
"Are you telling us nobody died due to Covid in Telangana, if you say that you are disrespecting the dead" - the Hon'ble Acting Chief Justice of Telangana High Court to the State.
The court also took cognizance of the fact that students in rural areas are facing severe hardship due to the closure of schools. "For example, if the schools are open in rural areas, children can have nutritious midday meals. People from rural belt don't have electronic gadgets" it said.
The court also took a serious view that the government failed to consult the schools before issuing the order. "There is nothing in the GO to suggest that schools will not be penalized if they do not start physical classes," the court said.
Taking all these factors into consideration, the court said no child shall be compelled to attend physical classes in any government or private schools from September 1. With regard to social welfare schools having a hostel facility, the court said the government shall not reopen those until further orders.