Tamil Nadu: Schools not ready for reopening – Times of India

MADURAI/TRICHY: Even as the centre has allowed partial reopening of schools from September 21 for Classes IX to XII with the consent from parents and an SOP for Covid-19 safety, a majority of schools in Madurai and Trichy, both government and private, are not yet prepared for starting classes on their campuses.

At the same time, some schools, especially those which are not holding regular online classes, as a first step to normalcy, are preparing to partially reopen as a desperate measure. Many schools in Trichy city find it a positive move saying that it would help slow learners get their doubts cleared in classrooms. Getting ready with basic requirements to welcome students, schools also wait for response from the state government.

Mala Sivakumar, principal, Kamala Niketan CBSE School, said that even if the schools are reopened, we will integrate on and offline classes. The school is undecided on going ahead with offline classes yet, as it will be very difficult to have regular classes with the standard operating procedure at place, she said.

For government schools that lack online classes, teachers said that such partial reopening would be the only way for their students to slowly return to learning. However, headmasters said that for conducting classes, state education officials should lay down Covid-19 safety rules first and ensure distribution of proper masks, and sanitisers. “Students can be trained from the start to follow Covid-19 safety protocol,” said the headmaster of a government higher secondary school.

Meanwhile, teachers of private schools said that more than 90% of parents were unwilling to let their child return to school now. “It is difficult to enforce strict protocol of hand washing, social distancing and wearing of masks even for higher class students. Even if one student tests Covid-19 positive, there would be a huge uproar. We cannot risk as of now when Covid-19 cases are still rising,” said the principal of a private school in Madurai.

“We have developed from black boards to smart classrooms. Similarly, in post Covid-19 times, I’m hoping for clean and hygienic classrooms with plenty of space for students. But as of now, safety is a concern and maybe we can wait for two more months at least,” said Ramya R, a parent. Students on the other hand are also worried about wearing face masks for long hours than normal and using common toilets.

Private and a few aided schools prefer online classes to physical classes. “Not all schools have suitable infrastructure such as extra classrooms, halls or open spaces for students to be spread out. Depending on the size of the school and strength of students, shift system could be brought in. Even then, it cannot be two shifts in a day but classes on alternate days or once in two days to give enough time for disinfection,” said Senthilnathan M, President, Private Schools Correspondents’ Confederation.

Padma Srinivasan, president of Rockcity Sahodaya School Complex, said that they have formulated multiple plans within the school to ensure that students are safe. She said commutation is another issue as students need to travel from different places to reach school. We are also awaiting response from the state government on reopening of schools, she added.

Usha Raghavan, principal, Amritha Vidyalayam CBSE School, Trichy said that reopening of schools is essential as students are not in touch with writing for the last few months. Initially slow learning students or those who have doubts in subjects like Mathematics and other science subjects in class X or XII can be allowed in classrooms. She said that the school is also looking into the possibility of conducting the classes under trees as the campus has good green cover.

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