Will it be possible to open educational institutions from September 5 in Bengal?

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said that “if all goes well”, then the government might consider re-opening schools, colleges and other educational institutions from September 5. She said these could function every alternate day depending on the situation a little over a month from now.

Teachers’ Day is celebrated in India on September 5, the birth anniversary of distinguished scholar Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, India’s first Vice President, and the second President of the country. And therefore, the date has been marked as an auspicious day to re-open schools in West Bengal that have been closed across the state following the outbreak of COVID-19, like the rest of the country and is continuing in many countries all over the world.

But will it be possible to actually re-open educational institutions by the first week of September in the state? According to the latest figures, West Bengal has recorded 62,964 cases till July 28, with 1,449 deaths so far. There are currently 19,493 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, with 2,134 new cases reported on July 28. With 17,021 tests done on one day, the total number of tests done in the state so far has increased to 8,39,211 and the recovery rate in the state is now 66.74 per cent.

While Banerjee has put September 5 as a tentative date and not announced it as a final date, senior officials indicated that it may not be possible, as the cases will increase at a rapid rate as the number of tests has been hugely increased over the past few weeks. Bengal intends to go for over 25,000 COVID tests per day by mid-August. More tests also mean higher number of positive cases reported per day. The state has also imposed a bi-weekly lockdown through August to stop the spread of the virus to an extent. But officials say that the likely situation for early September cannot be indicated before mid-August or the third week of August. Officials of the state education department and the top brass at the state administrative headquarters in Nabanna are likely to take a call around that time, said an official on Wednesday.

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