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'Goa schools to resume from Nov 22; third wave will be low profile'

Panaji, Nov 16 (IANS) Even as a top Goa government committee paved the way for opening up of schools from Class I to Class VIII from November 22 (Monday), the head of a top government health facility on Tuesday also said that the third Covid wave was unlikely to be a big affair considering the low infection rate in Goa, even after the festive season.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the state government's steering committee for Covid management which is chaired by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Dr Shivanand Bandekar, dean of the Goa Medical College also said the state Education Department had been directed to take school managements into confidence to work out the modalities of school re-opening.

"We are looking at starting schools from Monday, November 22," Bandekar told reporters.

The official also said that the Education Department had also been tasked with formulation of SOPs for schools, which would include restrictions on holding of the daily assembly of students as well as working out staggered school timings especially in areas where educational institutions were clustered.

Bandekar also said that in case, Covid cases witnessed an increase in the state, after re-opening of schools, the Goa government had a back-up plan in mind.

"It is not that we will start schools just like that. Back up plan will be like this. Suppose we see that the positivity rate is rising, then our expert committee will immediately meet and take stock of the situation," Bandekar said.

The steering committee on Tuesday also said that teachers in schools were instructed to ensure that students do not intermingle unnecessarily with each other during school hours, while adding that doctors attached to the Directorate of Health Services had been directed to visit schools and check students who develop Covid-like symptoms regularly.

Bandekar also said that the likelihood of the third wave hitting the coastal state in a big way was slim.

"If you see the activities around, if the third wave was to come, it would have come by now. You must have seen a lot of festivals have taken place. Lot of tourism is going on. What we see is cases are not rising which is a good sign," Bandekar said.

"The cases are currently low and I think we are now able to say that the third wave is going to be very very low profile, if at all it comes," he added.

Out of 2,699 persons tested for Covid over the last 24 hours, only 23 have tested positive. Goa currently has 252 active Covid cases, while 3,376 persons have died in the state due to Covid-related complications since last year.