Updated: August 24, 2021 7:17:38 am
High schools and pre-university colleges in Karnataka reopened Monday after nearly 18 months and students were back in government institutions even as some private schools remained shut. The state government said a majority of teachers and other staff at government schools have been vaccinated.
Students in classes IX to XII were allowed to return to schools with consent letters from their parents.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai paid a visit to a school in north Bengaluru’s Malleswaram area on Monday morning to welcome students back to offline learning after a long break necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In online classes network is an issue, but in physical classes communication with teachers will be better. Students will be with friends and so mentally they are happy. This is real freedom for them. By the end of the month the expert committee will meet and we will look into opening primary schools as well,” Bommai said.
Shashi Kumar, general secretary of the Associated Management of Private Schools in Karnataka, said most private schools have reopened. “A few will watch the situation over the next few days and will reopen later. The attendance of students across the state is overwhelming. The turnout is 85 per cent in Class X, while it is 75-80 per cent in Class IX,” he said.
Though schools are facing financial constraints due to non-payment of fees, they are adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) which include sanitisation, Kumar said. “We have made sure that teachers and staff at the schools are vaccinated,” he said.
“We have 75-85 per cent attendance in Bengaluru but 15-25 per cent of the parents are still on a wait-and-watch mode. They want to see if classes function continuously because we have had a situation in which we opened schools and then had to shut it down last year due to Covid cases,” said Kiran Prasad, Principal and owner of Vidya Vaibhav Public School in Bengaluru and Springfields Public School at Channapatna. “The attendance is better in rural areas because of connectivity issues,” he explained.
Minister for Primary and Secondary Education BC Nagesh said schools have restricted the number of students to 25 in each classroom. “The students will be monitored for symptoms. I have visited the schools and preventive measures are in place,” he said.
Chandrashekar S, Principal of Vijaya Composite PU College, termed the reopening of schools a rebirth for students. “There is no substitute for physical classes. I am in touch with parents on WhatsApp groups and there is a mixed response to the reopening. The attendance is encouraging and we hope things will get streamlined in the coming days. Most students who came today said their parents were happy to send them to school,” he said.
Karnataka government had announced that schools could open in parts of the state where the test positivity rate (TPR) is below two per cent, as per which high schools in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Hassan districts remained shut on Monday.
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