Photo Source: Government of Sikkim, Facebook

Gangtok, June 9:

With schools being used as quarantine facilities, many citizens are worried about safety after the reopening. On June 7, a State Task Force meeting was convened by the Chief Secretary S.C. Gupta, at Tashiling Secretariat, to review and assess the present situation of the COVID-19 in the state, and to decide what course of what course of action to now take.

The meeting was also attended by District Collectors, Superintendent of Police, Chief Medical Officers through video conferencing. At this meeting, the upcoming Board Exam from July was also addressed and discussed on, as well as the online examination of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The Chief Secretary S.C. Gupta, in this meeting, ordered the Administration to hand over the Senior Secondary Schools, like the Tashi Namgyal Senior Secondary School, had been temporarily turned into designated Government quarantine facilities, to the Education Department by June 25.

Respective institutions will take care of arranging quarantine facilities for students and faculties

In this same meeting, it was also decided that Sikkim would no longer be sending their swab samples for testing to North Bengal Medical College (NBMC), Siliguri, Health Secretary, Dr Pempa T. Bhutia informed on Monday evening. This decision could have been made after the two ladies from South Sikkim, that had been discharged after completing 14 days in the quarantine facilities, they tested positive. On Monday morning, they were revealed to have tested negative.

Dr Pempa had given two possibilities for this situation, “Either the ladies were positive before, but after completing their 14 days quarantine, they were able to recover and hence they tested negative. Or there could have been some mistakes with the testing at NBMC, where their samples were sent for testing.”

On this new development, Dr Pempa said, “We realized Sikkim is more than capable to conduct tests and results for COVID-19.”

Initially, the Education Minister, K.N. Lepcha, on May 22 had announced that educational institutions would be reopening in the state from June 15, and this move by the Education Department was met with a lot of criticism from teachers, parents and student associations. Associations like the Sikkim University Students’ Association (SUSA) and the Sikkim University Teachers’ Association (SUTA) wrote letters appealing that the Administration consider and roll back the reopening of June 15.

On May 30, the Chief Minister P.S. Tamang postponed the reopening of June 15, in a high-level cabinet meeting at Samman Bhawan, instead, he announced that the educational institutions would be reopening only from July 1. Therefore, the students and faculties of institutions from out of the state should enter after June 15, and that the respective institutions would take care of arranging their quarantine facilities for students and faculties out of the state.

6 more persons tested positive for COVID-19 in Sikkim

Whereas, the Centre Government HRD Minister Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal. announced on June 7, that educational institutions across the nation will reopen across India after August 2020, most probably after August 15, in an interview Pokhriyal was quoted saying, “We are trying to get declared all the results from the examinations this session by August 15. This means those exams which have already taken place before and those which are taking place now,”

This announcement from the Centre and State governments surely contradict each other, but the fact of the matter is that while the Centre can issue guidelines for the reopening, the final decision of the reopening is up to the State government, depending on the situation and local conditions.

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