Students of grades 3-5 return to classrooms, lack of distancing a concern
Over 40% of the students in classes 3 to 5 in government schools returned to their classrooms on Wednesday after almost 11 months of online education. However, as the turnout of students was higher than expected, many schools failed to follow social distancing protocols on the first day. In some instances, students who did not have consent letters from parents were also allowed to attend classes.
“The first day of school reopening saw a collective turnout of almost 40% in 353 primary schools of the district, which will gradually increase in the coming week. Online classes will continue for students who cannot attend schools,” said Prem Lata, district elementary education officer.
During HT’s visit, classrooms in a few schools were packed to capacity and students were found seated with no discernible gaps between one another. Although they wore masks, social distancing norms were not adhered to.
At an elementary school in Sector 4/7, a few classes were packed to the capacity. Mahesh Chandra, a teacher of Class 5, while counting the students, said, “The classroom has a seating capacity of almost 40 students, which is almost occupied on the first day. Once other students arrive, additional arrangements will have to be made to accommodate over 15 more students.”
A similar situation was witnessed at the schools in Police Lines and Sadar. “All classrooms will be occupied as primary schools will reopen for classes 1 and 2 in March. The turnout in every class will continue to increase. Therefore, classes will have to be run in the usual manner. But we are ensuring that students wear masks throughout,” Sunil Kumar, principal, Sadar primary school.
“On the first day, at least 33 of the 54 enrolled students attended the classes. Classes will run in almost full strength by next week. Some students are still in their villages and are yet to return,” said Amit Kumar, head of the primary wing, government school at Police Lines.
Kumar decorated the entrance of classrooms with balloons to welcome the students. “Some children are meeting face-to-face for the first time. They had shifted from private schools in October last year,” he said.
At a government school in Kadipur, only 20% of the 860 students of the primary classes turned up on the day of reopening. “Many parents wait for a response on the first day. Only after hearing first-hand accounts from neighbours or relatives do they begin to send their child to school. When schools reopened for classes 9 to 12 in December, only a few students attended classes. But now, classrooms are packed to capacity in many schools,” said Sudesh Raghav, principal, government school, Kadipur.
Students of primary schools were let out earlier than 1.30pm to avoid a rush at the exit gate. At the government school in Sector 4/7, students were asked to leave in a queue before senior students were let out.