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Covid-19 cases reported among students, parents urge schools to hold online exams

In light of Covid-19 cases being reported among school-going children, school administrators are taking extra precautions to ensure student safety as parents are now apprehensive about sending children to school
By Kainat Sarfaraz, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 11:42 PM IST

In light of Covid-19 cases being reported among school-going children, school administrators are taking extra precautions to ensure student safety as parents are now apprehensive about sending children to school.

Public and private schools in the national capital had reopened for students of classes 9 to 12, between January and February, after remaining shut since March 2020 when the pandemic had hit the country.

Parent association groups said students in at least two Delhi schools has tested positive for Covid-19 after attending in-person classes. Adding to their worries is a recent report from Karnal, Haryana, that 54 students there had contracted the disease after attending school.

Karnal deputy commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav said 78 persons, including 54 students, had tested positive on Tuesday. He said school authorities have been alerted and affected blocks have been declared as containment zones. Classes and other activities have also been suspended.

On Monday, Queen Mary’s school postponed exams for classes 9 and 11 and closed its campus for a week after a student allegedly tested positive for Covid-19, two days after attending school. The announcement came after a group of parents protested outside its campus on Monday. The school denied all allegations of social distancing norms not being followed on the premises.

Parent groups organised protests outside multiple schools on Wednesday as well.

Aprajita Gautam. president, Delhi Parents Association said parents are also questioning the need for in-person exams for students of classes 9 and 12. “We have been getting messages that schools are trying to suppress information if a student tests positive for Covid. Our association had received mails and calls from parents saying they are worried about sending their children to school,” said Gautam.

“When parents from Venkateshwar International School got to know that a student tested positive for Covid-19, 200 parents submitted a memorandum to the school on Monday morning asking the school to allow students to take the exams online. After the protest, the school allowed the online option,” said Gautam.

The parent of a class 11 student at the school, requesting anonymity, said exams were supposed to begin from Wednesday. “School officials said they weren’t clear about the reports of the said student and wanted to hold offline exams. Teachers in contact with the child didn’t quarantine themselves. My child had interacted with that student and since there was no school transport, many students had gone back home together. We were worried and asked for online exams but the school dismissed our concerns at first. Later, they agreed and sent a note late Tuesday night,” said a parent.

Manisha Sharma, principal of Venkateshwar International School, in Dwarka’s Sector 10, said the school had not received any formal communication from the parents about the student’s Covid-19 status.

“We circulated a note among parents that such a rumour was going around. We informed them that the student had attended classes for one day, over 15 days ago. There are provisions for offline and online classes. So, there is no chance of students or staff being under risk,” she said.

The school said it held “special weekly meetings” with support staff and stakeholders to ensure that proper sanitisation and Covid-19 protocols were being implemented.

“We have to address concerns of anxious students who don’t have devices and wanted to take the exams in the offline mode. Our support staff are well trained and we have ensured that everything -- from doorknobs and handles to staircase and balcony railings -- is thoroughly sanitised and there is no risk to anyone’s health,” she said.

Modern Public School in Shalimar Bagh, which was one of the first private schools in the capital to reopen for board students on January 18, said their school has ensured that they don’t deviate from Covid-19 protocols, which helped in mitigating parent concerns.

“Instructions are being repeated every day to ensure that the guidelines are strictly followed and there is no lapse. We do the orientation with parents and students on a regular basis. We have also requested parents not to attend social gatherings as children have their exams. Even if parents have to go out, we have asked them to ensure that children are following safety norms for their own sake,” said principal Alka Kapur.

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