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Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Sunday announced a three-week “mid-term holiday” for all types of school activities in the state citing instances of several teachers and students contracting the infection as the total tally continues to increase daily in the state.

In an order, Yediyurappa said, “I have come to know through media reports that several teachers have been infected with COVID-19. Therefore, officials gave been directed to issue an order to declare a three-week-long mid-term holiday in the best interest of the health of students and teachers.”

The latest direction is a relief to several government school teachers who were otherwise asked to report for duties to ensure participation in the ‘Vidyagama’ programme, by which they were asked to meet students at playgrounds or temples near the children’s residences to engage them in academic activities, as schools remained closed due to the ongoing pandemic.

The move from the government to continue the programme had drawn flak from many, including former Chief Ministers Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy after 34 students attending classes under the programme in Belagavi and Kalaburagi districts in North Karnataka tested positive for COVID-19.

This had later led to the Primary and Secondary Education Department ordering a “temporary suspension” of the programme.

Earlier on Sunday, Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy had criticised the government’s move to cancel the midterm holidays. “Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, teachers from government and private schools are going to schools to work. Government school teachers continue to work. The government has ill-treated teachers by suspending their midterm holidays,” he tweeted.

In a series of tweets, Kumaraswamy added, ” While students aren’t coming to schools due to Covid-19, teachers are directed to attend school for other works. What is the government trying to achieve?” attaching a government order dated October 1 mentioning suspension of midterm holidays scheduled to be from October 3 to 26.

CM Yediyurappa’s directions issued on Sunday overrules other orders made by the government in this regard, allowing teachers and students to stay off all academic activities. The CM also dedicated Dasara wishes in advance to all teachers and students in the state announcing holidays till October 30.

Meanwhile, the total number of Covid-19 cases to date edged past the seven lakh-mark, with over 1.2 lakh active cases in the state, as on October 10. At least 9891 people have succumbed to the infection in the last seven months, as per the statistics issued by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services.
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