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Friday, January 28, 2022

Pune: A day before schools reopen, principals unsure of student turnout

🔴 On Tuesday evening, the district administration allowed schools to reopen for in-person classes for primary students.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune |
Updated: December 16, 2021 7:22:41 am
Sanitization worker cleans the primises of New English School as the schools are set to reopen from 15 December. (Express Photo by Ashish Kale)

A day before primary schools from Class I onwards reopen across Maharashtra on Thursday, school principals and managements are unsure how many students will turn up due to fear among parents of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

On Tuesday evening, the district administration allowed schools to reopen for in-person classes for primary students. With barely a day left for making preparations and seeking consent from parents, principals are unsure about the student turnout on Thursday.

Meena Rane, principal, Secondary and Higher secondary section, Muktangan English School, said on Wednesday that all teachers will be present at school and messages along with consent forms have been sent to parents. “We had distributed consent forms earlier and according to that, a large majority of parents are ready to send older children — above Class V — to school. I think as far as the primary section is concerned, there are still some reservations. Our teachers come to school everyday and conduct classes from here through laptops,” she said.

“Tomorrow, we have decided to keep it in hybrid mode, open for whoever wants to attend physical classes. Since the first week of October, we have been holding in-person classes from VIIIth to Xth but attendance has not exceeded fifty per cent even though enthusiasm is high. Going by that, we don’t think crowding will be a problem though the actual picture will be clear by January,” she added.

Chandrika Banerjee, principal of Magarpatta City Public School, said, “Since we have only a few working days left before the Christmas holidays, we have decided to defer reopening till January. Enthusiasm among students and parents is really high and I am sure many want to return to school. But there are a number of planning issues, like consent forms, calling students in batches and reorganising teaching staff accordingly. We need to train students, especially younger ones.”

She added, “If we start school now and take a break in a few days, not only will momentum be lost but it will lead to disappointment in students. We are also not sure how many parents will consent to send children, so we need a few days for planning and consulting with them.”

Instead of in-person classes, some schools have planned co-curricular activities as an ice-breaker session. Jayshree Venkatraman, principal of SNBP School, said younger students will be called for some poetry, drama and sports events. “Though government has given permission, it might not be possible for schools to open in December. Instead, at our school we decided to have cultural activities and then plan for starting primary school in a phased manner,” she said.

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