Students attending a class at Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Bathinda on Monday, seven months since the Covid-19 lockdown.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
Students attending a class at Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Bathinda on Monday, seven months since the Covid-19 lockdown.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

Thin attendance as government schools reopen in Punjab’s Malwa amid Covid-19 pandemic

Schools follow safety guidelines as few students of Classes 9 to 12 show up on Day 1 with most parents in wait and watch mode
Hindustan Times, Bathinda | By Vishal Joshi
PUBLISHED ON OCT 19, 2020 06:30 AM IST

Government schools in Punjab reopened for students of Classes 9 to 12 on Monday after seven months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thin attendance was reported from schools in Bathinda, Mansa, Ferozepur and adjoining districts of south Malwa.

Most parents are concerned about the safety of their wards and are not keen to send them to school just yet. “Parents are not eager to submit consent letters immediately. Schools lack infrastructure to ensure a seating plan with social distancing. We are waiting and watching. Stakeholders need time to build confidence though preparations are being made to resume school,” said a Bathinda-based parent, requesting anonymity.

OPEN ONLY FOR THREE HOURS

Of the 1,527 students at Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Bathinda’s Model Town, only 53 students turned up on Monday. Principal Saveen Kiran said parents are slowly approaching the school with consent letters. “Parents have to make plans to drop and pick up their wards as educational institutions are open for only three hours. Students are keen on resuming classes and hopeful that the situation will improve soon,” she said.

Another government school at Gobindpur village has 317 students in Classes 9 to 12 but only 52 children attended class on Monday.

In Mansa’s Girl’s Senior Secondary School, only 60 of the 1,200 students attended class.

SCHOOLS CAN START AT 9AM

District education officer Iqbal Singh said that all schools have been sanitised and Covid-19 standard operating protocol (SOPs) are being followed.

“Schools are scheduled to open for three hours only after 8.30 am. However, the headquarters has given school heads the relaxation to start school from 9am, depending on the requirement of students,” he said.

ATTENDANCE TO PICK UP AFTER HARVEST SEASON

School managements in the rural areas of the state’s Malwa region expect to see an improvement in attendance from October-end as students, mainly boys, are engaged in the harvesting of paddy and cotton at present.

A principal from a rural school said: “We are not expecting an improvement in attendance for at least two more weeks.”

A teacher in Mansa said like parents, teachers also have apprehensions of safety at schools.

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