At a time when "stay home, stay safe" is the mantra, several students in Kerala's Idukki district are travelling 6 km daily to attend online classes owing to poor Internet connectivity at their homes.
This is the latest instance of how the pandemic and the subsequent suspension of physical classes have brought to the fore the digital divide in the country.
After classes moved to virtual platforms, students from Rajamala in Idukki are left with no option other than making the arduous journey daily to a point in the Eravikulam National Park where they find Internet connectivity.
"We reach here by an auto-rickshaw in the morning. In the evening, we walk home," a Class 12 student was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"There is no internet connectivity in Rajamala and at some spots where it is available, the speed is very slow. It is very difficult for us to commute 6-km daily," Class 12 student Arun told ANI.
At the Eravikulam National Park, culverts along a road are lined daily with such students poring over their phones. At times, despite the difficult journey, studies are hampered. "Sometimes it starts raining, making things worse for us," said Arun.
Physical classes in Kerala's schools and colleges resumed earlier this year, but they had to be suspended again in the wake of the second wave of Covid infections.
The state government is now providing digital classes through its First Bell initiative.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan yesterday inaugurated the virtual reopening of the academic session in public schools across the state.