All educational institutes will remain closed till April 15, and only the employees needed for board exams and emergency administrative work like preparing salary bills need to turn up, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Monday.
The chief minister’s announcement extended to April 15 the shutdown that was earlier in effect till March 31.
Besides, it cleared the air about whether the earlier order applied only to students. The clarification, which made it clear the shutdown covered teachers as well as non-essential staff, was necessitated by confusion that prevailed on Monday morning.
Mamata said at Nabanna in the afternoon: “The coronavirus cases are jumping in the fourth and fifth weeks and so, as a precaution against it, we are extending the shutdown till April 15. Hostels will also have to declare a holiday so that those who stay in the hostels can go back home.
“Only for emergency administrative work like preparing salary bill, institutes may decide. Earlier we had declared that all schools, colleges and universities to remain close till March 31, except for conducting board exams.”
Not all schools in the city were closed on Monday. In some schools, students came to see the answer scripts or collect books for the new session. In several schools, teachers came for correcting the answer scripts of the internal school examinations, preparing report cards or planning the timetable for the next session.
In some colleges, principals called up teachers and complained when they did not turn up. In several colleges and research institutes, teachers turned up for work on Monday.
After the chief minister’s announcement on Monday, education minister Partha Chatterjee decided to meet all the vice-chancellors at Bikash Bhavan to instruct the universities to abide by the directive on extending the shutdown till the middle of April.
The chief minister’s office had issued a release on Saturday saying all educational institutions would remain “closed” from Monday till the end of the month.
A government notification on Saturday had mentioned “suspension of classes to combat spread of novel coronavirus”. It was signed by Manish Jain, secretary of the school education and higher education departments.
In a fresh notification signed by Jain, issued on Sunday, a modification was made. It said: “In partial modification of the subject communicated vide this office as ‘suspension of classes to combat spread of novel coronavirus’ may be read as ‘press release to combat spread of novel coronavirus’.”
An official of the higher education department said on Monday: “Since the release from the chief minister’s office mentioned ‘closed’ and the notification mentioned ‘suspension of classes’, the education minister decided to hold a meeting with the vice-chancellors. This is to ensure there is no confusion and to clarify that colleges or universities should not expect their teachers to report to the institute.”
Some schools expected all teachers to turn up even if they were not involved in invigilation or administrative work related to board exams. But, referring to those not linked to board exams, Mamata said on Monday: “Teachers will work from home.”
However, teachers on invigilation duty for board exams have to report.