The Telangana High Court Division Bench, comprised of Chief Justice M. S. Ramachandran Rao and Justice T. Vinod Kumar, has ordered schools not to compel students to come to the classroom physically for class attendance because children are more susceptible to the virus and no vaccine has been developed for use on children under the age of 18. “No child studying in any class in any school in this State (other than Govt. Residential schools, Social Welfare and Tribal Welfare schools with hostel facility) shall be obliged by any School Management to physically attend offline classes if his/her parent is not motivated to send the child to school,” the court stated. The petitioner has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) contesting the Respondent’s Memo instructing all public and private educational institutions to re-open schools in physical mode on September 1, 2012, in accordance with COVID regulations. Aggrieved, the Petitioner filed a petition under Section 151 CPC, requesting that the High Court, in the circumstances stated in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, stay the operation of a Memo dated 24.08.2021 issued by Respondent No. 1 in so far as it concerns the Pre-Primary and Primary Schools in the State of Telangana, pending disposition of the PIL.
The Court considered the petitioner’s representation and explained that while the Petitioner in this PIL has no doubt limited his prayer to pre-primary and primary school children, considering the issues raised in the writ petition, we propose to broaden the scope of the case to include all school-aged children from all Private and Government Schools in the State.
No child enrolled in any class in any school in this State (other than Govt. Residential schools, Social Welfare and Tribal Welfare schools with hostel facilities) shall be compelled by any School Management to physically attend offline classes if his or her parent is unwilling to send the child to school. No private school administration shall face any criminal repercussions of any kind if they do not comply with the memo dated 01.9.2021. No school-age child accepted to any private or public school, or his or her parent will be subjected to any penalty or punishment of any kind by the school to which he or she is enrolled if the child does not attend school for online lessons. The State Govt. authorities/respondents should establish SOPs to be followed by all School Managements who desire to conduct courses offline within one week and provide extensive exposure in print and electronic media. The Court has also requested the State Government/Respondent to file a counter-affidavit on the number of government and social welfare schools in the state, as well as how many of them have hostels. The Court scheduled the matter for October 4, 2021, and instructed the respondent to file an Advisory Report with the Court.