Students to be provided mid-day meals: Minister
Students will be provided mid-day meals when the schools reopen in November, Minister for General Education V. Sivankutty informed the State Assembly on Thursday.
Replying to questions pertaining to re-opening of schools against the backdrop of COVID-19, Mr. Sivankutty said that the mid-day meals will be supplied by strictly adhering to the pandemic protocols.
Committees will be formed for supporting schools for arranging the meals with the help of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA), people’s organisations and local bodies, the Minister said. The meals will be supplied depending on the situation in each school, he said.
The State Government was well-prepared for the re-opening of schools after a long, pandemic-induced hiatus, he said.
In the first two weeks, classes will be held till noon including Saturdays. Each student batch will have classes consecutively for three days. Only 25% of the students in each class will be required to attend school if the total strength of the school is 1,000 or above.
A total of 93.9% of the teaching and non-teaching staff in schools have received either both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine or the first jab, the Minister said. Around 68.19% of the teaching staff had received both doses, and 23.86% their first dose, as on September 9. In all, 65.52% of the non-teaching staff had received both doses and 24.42%, the first dose.
School vehicles will be issued fitness certificates by October 20. Motor Vehicles Department officials are visiting schools for carrying out the inspections. The MVD has published the COVID-19 Transportation Protocol which will be issued to schools and PTAs. Autorickshaws used for the transportation should carry a maximum of three school students, the Minister said.
“The practice of transporting five to ten children should be avoided,” he said. The government is also scheduled to hold discussions with private bus operators in the next two days, he said.
The government expects to appoint head teachers in schools wherever they have not been appointed before the schools re-open. Around 1,200 lower primary schools lack head teachers at present. The appointments have been delayed largely due to court cases, Mr. Sivankutty said.
The General Education Department also plans to come out with a ‘new academic calendar and approach’ for school academics during the pandemic. This will be realised with the help of the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and ViCTERS channel, he said.