Published: 17th October 2020
Uttarakhand schools set to reopen from November 1, parents remain worried amid rising COVID-19 cases
School managements have said that they are prepared to resume classes while ensuring strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol including limiting attendance in the classes to 50 per cent per day
With schools set to reopen in Uttarakhand for classes X and XII on November 1 after a gap of more than seven months, most parents are feeling insecure as COVID-19 cases are still rising in the state. School managements have said that they are prepared to resume classes while ensuring strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol including limiting attendance in the classes to 50 per cent per day for the sake of social distancing.
However, they are not ready to take the blame if a student gets infected despite the precautionary measures. "While we will make sure that the SOPs are followed, I must say that the schools should not be held responsible if a student catches the virus," Chairman Doon International School D S Mann said. The reopening of schools has put parents in a spot as they do not want to expose their wards to the risk of catching the infection but are left with no choice as the option of studying online will no longer be available for the children of the two classes.
Children have spent half of the session attending online classes. There is no harm in letting them continue their studies in this manner for the rest of the session," said Asha Rawat, a resident of Nehru colony. "My daughter studies in class XII and used to go to school on a bicycle. It is better that she studies at home rather than venturing out and taking the risk (of catching COVID-19)," she added.
"The health of our children is paramount. Why should we take the risk of sending our children to school when neither the state government nor the school authorities are ready to take the responsibility of their safety," another parent in the Dalanwala area, who did not wished to be named, said. Some of the parents opined that the children should be called only for practical classes if that is a must and not for regular classes until a vaccine for coronavirus is found and every child is vaccinated.
Despite getting bored at home due to the prolonged closure of schools, the students too said that they did not want to to take a risk by venturing out. "I am not with the government's decision to reopen schools. I know it will not be possible to take all precautions once the classes resume," said Anushka Bisht, a student of class XII. However, Uttarakhand government spokesperson and cabinet minister Madan Kaushik said all precautions including safe transportation in sanitised buses with only 50 per cent occupancy, regular sanitisation of the premises, limiting the attendance in the classes to 50 per cent of their total capacity and hand sanitisation every now and then will be taken by the school authorities to protect the students.
Asked if someone gets infected despite the precautions, Kaushik said, "No one will be held responsible for that". The minister, who had tested positive for the virus recently, added, "I had also tested positive for COVID-19. Did I blame anyone?" Meanwhile, in compliance with the state cabinet's decision to reopen schools for Class X and XII, their managements have prepared an elaborate plan on how to go about it. "To limit the attendance of a class to 50 per cent, the odd-even formula will be followed going by the roll numbers of children, Doon International School Vice Principal Dinesh Barthwal said.
School buses to be run with only 50 per cent occupancy and will be properly sanitised before and after every ride and it will be mandatory for students to wear masks and maintain physical distance from each other, he said. Children will be allowed to enter the school premises only after thermal screening and there will be a ban on prayer assemblies and sports, Barthwal added.