Only Government Schools Reopen With Covid Rules In Punjab, Uttar Pradesh

Private schools in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh remain shut after majority parents decide to wait till COVID-19 cases drop further; stick with online classes.

According to centre's Covid safety rules, only students of classes 9-12 can attend school for now.

New Delhi:

Even with coronavirus safety rules in place, only government schools in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have resumed classes for a section of its students with parents' consent and without compulsory attendance. Most private schools in these states remain shut after majority parents decided to wait till COVID-19 cases drop further. However, students seem happy to return to school with most saying it was "odd", but helped them study better.

Schools across the country were shut in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and were only recently allowed to reopen under Unlock 5 after months of online classes.  

Government schools in Uttar Pradesh's Noida and Punjab's Mohali have reopened for students of standards 9 to 12. All Covid-safety norms - thermal scanning of teachers and students, hand sanitisation and social distancing on campus and in classrooms - are being followed.

Students of classes 9 and 10 attend school in the morning shift from 8-11 AM, and standard 11 and 12 classes are held from 12-3 PM. While teachers ensure students do not leave classes in droves, but in a file, the schools' sanitisation staff disinfects all common surfaces between the morning and afternoon shifts.

"This whole experience, full of protocols, definitely feels very strange, but I prefer to attend classes (over studying online) because certain topics can only be grasped properly through personal interaction with teachers," a boy at a government school in Noida told NDTV.

"I am able to get all my doubts cleared by coming to school. Here, teachers can explain better than in an online class," said a student in Mohali.  

In a school in Punjab NDTV visited, only 40 per cent students were seated in classrooms with a gap of 2-3 seats between them.

"We have an isolation room. In case a student develops symptoms the local medical authorities, like the chief medical officer, will be contacted immediately," Sher Singh Varun, Principal of Government School in Noida's Sector-12, said.

Despite the precautions being taken as per central government's orders, parents of students in private schools have chosen to stick with online classes for now.

"When kids go back to school after so many months they are bound to be excited to meet their friends, and may not be as careful (as is needed to prevent COVID-19). I think we can wait for a few more days for the coronavirus cases to decrease," Shubhra Pathak, a Noida-based parent, told NDTV.

Ms Pathak's concern underlines the real concern in reopening schools even with precautions.

The governments and administrations may be able to come up an overall Covid-safety protocol, but ensuring the safety of each and every child will be a bigger challenge in the upcoming days when the number of students is likely to increase.

India has a total of 75.9 lakh coronavirus cases with almost 1.15 lakh deaths.