The students were brimming with excitement seeing friends and teachers after a gap of many months. But, strict instructions right from wearing masks, washing hands at frequent intervals to mandatory social distancing gave a formal colour to their first day in schools, when they reopened partially in Kerala on Friday.
As part of the government’s instructions, classes for 10th and 12th standards began in schools across the southern state with limited hours and a restricted number of students.
“I am really excited to be back in my school, I have never thought that I can spend time with my friends at this campus again,” a thrilled Akhila, a 10th standard student of a city school here, said.
Parvathy, another student, said she was fed up attending online classes and she had really missed actual classroom studies. “Online class is a good option at this time of crisis. But, it cannot give the feel and positivity provided by an actual classroom. Not just schools and classrooms, I really missed my teachers and friends,” she said.
But, the strict instruction of keeping a distance from other students and admission of only one student on a bench made some students a tad unhappy.
It was after a gap of nine months that the schools opened in the southern state, in compliance with strict COVID protocols.
All these months, students were attending online classes through the Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education’s (KITE)- Victers channel.
They were greeted with digital thermometers at the entrance of schools to measure their body temperature, which is mandatory as per the guidelines issued by the authorities.
They were admitted into the school campus only after collecting consent letters from the parents. Schools in Kerala was remained closed since the coronavirus-induced lockdown in March.
A recent high-level meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, had decided to reopen educational institutions, including schools and colleges, in adherence with COVID guidelines.
In its guidelines, the General Education Department directed that only 50 per cent of students be allowed at a time in schools and that classes be arranged as one student per bench in the first week.
It is better to allow 25 per cent of the students at a time in schools, where their strength exceeds 300 in number in classes 10 and 12, according to the guidelines issued by the Director of Public Instructions (DPI).
In the detailed instructions given, the authorities have asked the school managements to ensure masks, sanitizer, digital thermometer and soaps in their institutions.
Students should be asked to maintain a distance of two metres between each other and classes may be conducted in shifts of limited hours if necessary, it said.
Articles in classes should be disinfected every two hours and children should be admitted in classes only with the consent of parents.
As per the present plan, the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) and Higher Secondary (HSC) second year board exams would be held from March 17 to 30 in strict compliance with COVID protocols.
At the college level, graduate and post-graduate classes and classes at the Universities of Agriculture and Fisheries would also begin in early January with a limited number of students.
It was also decided to start classes from the second year in medical colleges, official sources added.
Meanwhile, an official statement said here that a total of 1.75 lakh new students have taken admission in classes 1 to 10 in state-run schools this academic year.