After Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated today that the coronavirus lockdown could continue beyond May 3 in parts of the country worst affected by the pandemic a.k.a hotspots or “red zones”, news agency PTI quotes officials as saying that educational institutions, shopping malls, religious places and public transport are also likely to remain shut beyond that day when the ongoing lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic is slated to end. A final decision on lockdown will be taken during the weekend, officials said on Monday after the meeting on the strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“Schools, colleges, shopping malls, religious places and public transport are likely to remain shut while a ban on public and social gatherings is also expected to continue beyond May 3”, the official said.
This means, the pending board examinations of various boards including CBSE, ICSE, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Rajasthan are also expected to be delayed further.
However, except for the pending board exams, the schools remaining closed is likely to make major impacts on school education sector in the country as most of the board have already moved to online learning and some boards are expected to announce summer vacations from May second or third weeks.
Meanwhile, the national higher education regulator, UGC, which has analysed two reports from two expert committees, is expected to announce an academic calendar and plans for university examinations soon, a report said on Monday. The reports have suggested the beginning of next academic session by September and organising online examinations, if infrastructure allows.
In a video meeting with Chief Ministers, PM Modi called for an exit plan from each state based on red, orange and green coding of districts according to the number of COVID-19 cases.
Five of nine Chief Ministers at the meeting said the lockdown should end, while the rest were in favour of extending it for the sake of controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Odisha, Goa, Meghalaya and a few other states are in favour of extension of the lockdown for a few more weeks, while some states suggested staggered relaxations in ‘green zone’ districts, where there has been no COVID-19 case in last 28 days, the official said.
This was the fourth meeting of chief ministers convened by the prime minister since the lockdown started on March 25.
In a related development, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has called a meeting with state education ministers to discuss issues related to COVID-19 and mid-day meal programme, officials said on Monday. The meeting will be held at 2.00 pm on Tuesday through video conferencing.
“The HRD minister will interact with state education ministers through video call tomorrow to discuss issues like handling of COVID-19, mid-day meal programme and Samagra Shiksha programme,” a senior Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry official said.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Pokhriyal interacted with parents online and addressed various issues, including unavailability of books and uncertainty over board exams, arising due to the lockdown imposed to curb the coronavirus spread.