Taking preventive steps amid coronavirus outbreak, the UT administration on Friday ordered closure of all private and government schools till March 31. No new session for any school will begin before April 1, the order stated.

Meanwhile, all government, aided and private schools besides private and government colleges and universities will remain shut in Mohali district till March 31.

In Panchkula district, schools will remain open but all government colleges have been closed till the month end.

However, ongoing examinations will continue as per the schedule across the tricity. The move comes even as no positive case has been reported in the tricity yet.

UT home secretary Arun Gupta said: “After reviewing the situation in Chandigarh, the administration has decided to shut down government and private schools as a precautionary measure. The exams will continue as per the schedule, but classes have been suspended till March 31.”

There are 114 government schools, 77 private schools and eight aided schools in Chandigarh with over 1 lakh students.

However, no decision has been taken on shutting colleges and universities, he said. Director higher education Rubinderjit Singh Brar confirmed that all colleges are open, though the decision could be reviewed on Monday. Panjab University spokesperson Renuka Salwan, too, confirmed the varsity is open. However, most of the institutes have deferred mass gatherings. There are around 15 government and private colleges in the city with over 30,000 students enrolled in them.

While regular classes in schools have been discontinued, students will have to appear in the board and annual assessment examinations in March, as per the previous schedule.

Also, students will be called in small groups for preparations of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), for which Chandigarh has been selected by the ministry of human resource development.

Teaching and non-teaching staff members have also been asked to attend the school as usual till further orders.

Punjab School Education Board also confirmed that ongoing examinations will continue as per the schedule in Mohali.

Students have been advised to follow the school advisory and instructions issued from time to time by the ministry of health and the local health department. In a fresh advisory, the Chandigarh administration on Friday appealed to all residents to avoid mass gatherings, especially asking parents to ensure children do not attend such events during the holidays.

The UT’s directions came after Punjab governor and UT administrator VPS Badnore held a meeting with the health secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to review the tricity’s preparedness.

Stating that no positive case of coronavirus has been reported in the city so far, Gupta said: “After holding discussions with Punjab and Haryana, we have also approved the notification under Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 to enforce preventive steps for controlling Covid-19.”

Clarifying that the administration has not declared the outbreak as epidemic in the city, Gupta said: “The health authorities can force a person, suspected to have been infected with the virus, to undergo specified tests.”

The authorities can prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person or class of persons as it shall deem necessary to prevent the spread of the disease.

If required, inspections of persons travelling by any mode can be done. Segregation of suspected patients can also be done in hospitals or temporary accommodations. People found violating directions of the administration can be penalised and convicted.

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