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In a breaking development, on November 11 the Calcutta High Court stated that schools in West Bengal for classes IX, X, XI & XII will resume operations, starting from November 16 as per schedule. The Court passed the order while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the education board's notification on reopening of schools. The PIL further sought the constitution of an expert committee to assess the COVID-19 situation in the state and provide recommendations to competent authorities.
While many states have ordered schools to reopen for all classes, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had ordered schools and colleges to resume physical and in-person classes on and from November 16. On the other hand, the petitioner had claimed that students up to the age of 18 years are yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and physical classes will increase the chances of transmission.
On October 29, the West Bengal of Secondary Education had issued a notification on the resumption of schools for students of classes IX, X, XI & XII from November 16 in adherence to certain guidelines on maintaining vital COVID-19 protocols. The PIL filed by a lawyer before the Calcutta High Court had deemed the education board's stance as 'unscientific'.
Notably, the West Bengal education board has sanctioned funds for the cleaning and sanitisation of state-run and aided schools. While the West Bengal Government School Teachers' Association has affirmed the notification, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently evaluated the vaccination status of teachers as schools nationwide resume physical classes.
On Wednesday, West Bengal reported 853 fresh COVID-19 cases and 15 people succumbed to the infection. The state health department stated that the infection tally in the state has risen to 16,00,732 while the death toll had climbed to 19,267. The recovery rate stands at 98.30 per cent while the fatality rate is 1.20 per cent.