Schools, more classes reopen across states
- Most private schools in the big cities of the state did not reopen on Wednesday, with school administrations saying they were yet to make arrangements as per the guidelines issued.
Eight states apart from the national capital expanded on Wednesday the resumption of schools for students with strict guidelines on social distancing and sanitising, and each saw low attendance levels on the first day due to hesitancy from parents or lack of readiness of institutions.
If in Delhi, classes 9 to 12 opened for the first time since March last year, Haryana, where middle, secondary and senior secondary schools were already functioning, opened its doors students in the primary classes 4 and 5. Madhya Pradesh saw its first school opening after the pandemic, with classes 6 to 12 opening on Wednesday, while in Uttar Pradesh, classes 1 to 5 resumed classroom teaching. In Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, students of classes 9 to 12 returned to school, while in Telangana all classes except residential schools and tribal welfare schools with hostel facilities were allowed to open.
In many of these states, however, online classes remained an option.
Schools in Haryana reported an attendance rate of 26%, with officials attributing this to both heavy rain and some measure of Covid-related hesitancy. However, for those children that did make it to school, it was day when they met classmates after nearly 18 months.
Ashish Kumar, a student of Class 4 at government school in Rohtak’s Bohar, said, “We faced problems during online classes and missed our friends. We have been asked not to sit on the same bench, and directed not to share water bottles.”
Rajbir Siwach, headmaster of the Girls High School in Ishwarwal in Bhiwani, said that only two students out of a total of 26 attended class on Wednesday.
In Madhya Pradesh, among the checks put in place by the state administration include schools could only open with 50% attendance, with each student allowed to attend class three times in a week. Under government guidelines, vaccinations of teachers and other staff members have also been made mandatory.
Most private schools in the big cities of the state did not reopen on Wednesday, with school administrations saying they were yet to make arrangements as per the guidelines issued. Government schools did open though, and the headmaster of Sarojini Naidu government school in Bhopal, Lakshmi Bhargava, said, “The school has been reopened with proper arrangement of social distancing and santisation. We allowed the students only after receiving the consent letter of parents.”
In Uttar Pradesh, while classes 6 to 8 opened from August 24, and 9 to 12 from August 16, classes 1 to 5 opened on Wednesday. They followed the same stipulations as mandated for the senior classes, which include two shifts, and arrangements for hand sanitisers, handwash, thermal scanning, pulse oximeter and first aid kits on the premises.
In Tamil Nadu, students from Class 9 to 12 went back to school on Wednesday after March last year. The Tamil Nadu government, however, said that not all students were compelled to attend and they could opt for online classes with the consent of their parents.
Most schools in the state did not function beyond lunchtime to prevent a spread while eating. According to the SOP issued by the state, schools should function six days a week and classrooms shouldn’t have more than 20 students to ensure physical distancing. If no additional rooms available, then students should come to school on a rotational basis on alternate days.
“Ninety per cent of the teachers and non-teaching staff have received at least one dose, ‘’ school education minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi told reporters on Wednesday, adding that arrangements were being made to ensure full vaccination of all school staff.
Colleges also reopened in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, and the state asked institutions to ensure that students coming from Kerala, where Covid cases are still on the rise, have been vaccinated or produce RT-PCR negative reports.
All students in the state can commute for free without a bus pass in state transport corporation buses.
In Rajasthan, too, schools opened for classes 9 to 12 along with regulations that mandate a ban on holding mass prayers, sporting activities, meetings, and distribution of cooked midday meals.