Sikkim education dept meeting
A view of the meeting of the education department at Gangtok. Image credit - Northeast Now

Sikkim government has decided to re-open the educational institutions in the state from June 15, 2020.

After remaining shut down for almost 90 days amid nationwide lockdown, the Sikkim government has decided to restart schools, colleges and universities maintaining strict social distancing norms and standard operating procedures (SPs).

The decision has been taken after a recent high-level meeting of the education department with the Sikkim chief minister.

The educational institutes in the state have remained closed since March 17.

Addressing a press conference in Gangtok on Friday afternoon, Sikkim education minister Kunga Nima Lepcha said the department has been working hard to fulfil all the losses caused to the education sector due to the lockdown.

Lepcha said the education department has used all resources and medium to reach out to the school and college students through digital platforms during the lockdown period.

He also said the department is still in the process to find other devices and digital mediums to cover all the students online.

Minister Lepcha said, “The state government has decided to reopen the educational institutions in the state from June 15, almost 90 days after remaining shut down.”

He mentioned, “The decision has been taken after a meeting with the CM by observing the present COVID19 situation in the state.”

Lepcha said, “The department has decided to start with Classes IX to XII in schools maintaining strict social distancing and other regulations.”

He informed that there will no morning assembly in schools and classes will follow strict social distancing norms.

The minister said classes from Kindergarten to Class VIII will continue to remain suspended till further notice.

Lepcha mentioned that the colleges will run in two shifts and the faculties will take classes in different groups.

For those students, who have to attend laboratories, can come to their respective lecturers in any doubt on their subject taken during online teaching. He mentioned that online teaching will be regular feature in schools and colleges.

He mentioned that the department has also planned to start community radio in difficult areas to cover students through digital education.

Apart from education, the community radio will also help the people during emergencies.

The minister said, “The education department and the educational institutes of the state now have a big responsibility to help the students to fulfil their losses in education through different mediums.”

He said, “Digitalization of education system will be a regular feature.”

The additional chief secretary to the education department, GP Upadhyaya, mentioned that as education is also an essential service, so the department puts its best efforts to reach out to the students through online classes in every possible medium during lockdown.

However, Upadhyaya said despite its best efforts the department has not been able to reach out to 100% of the students online due to different reasons.

He informed that the department has also sent pre-loaded e-contents in laptops and pen-drives to different areas in the state where students of that particular area can learn from it by gathering in an area.

Upadhyaya mentioned that the department has also arranged online counselling sessions for students to help students to cope up with psychological stress after staying long at home due to lockdown.

Responding to media queries, the minister said the department has requested the district collectors to hand over all schools to the department by June 10 as many schools have been used as quarantine centres.

He added that all returnees from different parts of the country will reach Sikkim by May 31, so the schools could be freed before June 10.

Upadhyaya mentioned that after being handed over, the schools will be cleaned and disinfected and other arrangements will be made.

He informed that the department will use 10 days of window period after reopening of the schools to analyse its efforts of reaching out to students through different mediums during the lockdown and will help students if they are having any problem through extra-classes and modules.

He also said, “There will be no morning assembly in schools and no holidays on Saturday.”

Upadhyaya added that the department has decided to conduct annual examination in February and the winter vacation is most likely to be shortened.

“We are making announcement of reopening of educational institutions in much advance now so that the students of universities, who are presently outside, can come on time as they have to go for quarantine and testing process,” he said.

The online classes of Class VI-VIII will continue through mobile app and other mediums and will continue even after opening of the schools.

It was informed that the CBSE board examination of remaining subjects will be held from July 1-13 in the state and the students would sit in the examination in their respective schools and not in centres.

Sagar Chhetri

Sagar Chhetri is Northeast Now Correspondent in Gangtok. He can be reached at: sagchhetri@gmail.com