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Can’t share food: West Bengal students prepare for new normal as schools reopen for students of Classes 9 to 12

As the West Bengal government decided to reopen schools for classes 9 to 12 and colleges, the threat of Covid-19 still looms with the state of late reporting around 800 cases daily.

Written by Santanu Chowdhary | Kolkata |
Updated: November 16, 2021 10:13:15 am
west bengal schools reopenA classroom being sanitised at a Kolkata school on Monday.

Samayeetra Maitra, 17, feels relieved and fortunate that she will finally be able to catch up with her classmates on Tuesday — after a Covid-induced closure of schools across the state for 20 months. But to her chagrin, she like other students is not allowed to share food, mingle with batchmates, engage in sports activities and use carpool to reach school as part of Covid protocols.

The student of Delhi Public School, Ruby Park in Kolkata, was initially sceptical that she would miss her final year of schooling.

“The last time I went to school was in December 2019 to appear for the mock board exam for Class 10. It was pre-Covid time. Since then, the school life has changed a lot. Now there will be no mingling with friends, no canteen food and no interaction with classmates. But I am glad that I am going back to my school once more before taking my Class 12 board exam next year. I hope to get a farewell too,” says the Class 12 student.

As the West Bengal government decided to reopen schools for classes 9 to 12 and colleges, the threat of Covid-19 still looms with the state of late reporting around 800 cases daily. With the country yet to begin vaccination of children, the state has directed education institutions to strictly enforce Covid protocols.

Meanwhile, students have got used to the new normal — wearing masks, using hand sanitisers and steer clear of crowds.

“I used carpooling to reach school. Now to minimise the contact, I have decided to either walk or take a rickshaw to school. I will also miss the games and outdoor activities in the school as they have been suspended to reduce physical contacts,” says Samayeetra, who lives within a two-km radius of the school.

However, those who live at a distance from school say they will travel by private vehicles or public transport.
To boost the immunity of students, parents are nudging their children to eat healthy food.

“As vaccination for students is yet to start, I have ensured that my daughter takes multi-vitamins and immunity booster ingredients like tulsi, honey and citrus fruits. We have cancelled carpool services. I have also brought another pair of school dress for her as she needs to change it everyday,” says Nipa Chakraborty (45), mother of class 9 student Aradhya Chakraborty of DPS.

Aradhya complains that she will not be able share food with friends. “A lot of things will be new. We now cannot share food with each other. Mask and hand sanitiser are must. Face shield and gloves are optional. There is still a mental block against physical classes as we are now used to studying online. But physical classes will definitely help us study better,” says Aradhya.

Aditya Adhya, a class 10 student of Collins Institute in north Kolkata, believes that in-person classes will prepare him better for the board exam.

“Online classes are helpful but not to that extent. When it comes to preparation for the board exams, physical classes are an absolute necessity. I can clear my doubt with teachers in a face-to-face interaction. I am really looking forward to taking physical classes once again,” says a happy Aditya, who will carry home cooked food as the school canteen will remain closed.

But all students are not lucky to return to school.

Amit Sarkar of THK Jain College expressed his displeasure at not being being able to attend his final two years of schooling. “I was in class 11 when I last attended school. Now I have cleared my board exam and have taken admission in a college. I am sad that I missed my final year in school. I am excited and nervous to start my college life.”

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