Kolkata: After several months, schools across West Bengal reopened on Tuesday (November 16) for students of classes 9-12, with strict COVID-19 restrictions in place. The pandemic had forced schools to stop physical classes. While students of junior and middle schools will continue in the online mode for the time being, state’s Education Minister Bratya Basu has said that efforts are on to gradually bring all pupils back to the classrooms.
Most schools in Kolkata and districts of West Bengal undertook massive sanitisation drive and put in place Covid protocols that all students, teachers and non-teaching staff will have to follow. “We have put up signages directing students and teachers on dos and dont’s on the Covid protocols. Outside each classroom there is a sanitiser placed and students will have to undergo temperature checks and sanitise their hands at the entry into the school,” said Lt. Col Brij Bhushan Singh (Retd), Principal, The Bhawanipur Education Society School.
This apart, a few schools in Kolkata have also set up isolation rooms in case a student or a teacher shows temperature. “We have set up an isolation room where we can keep the students and teachers to wait incase if they show temperature. The idea is not prevent them in coming in contact with others if they show any symptoms of Covid-19. We can have them picked up by their family members,” added Singh.
Students queued up at school gates across West Bengal since morning as per the schedule announced by the state government for holding classes in different timings for secondary and higher secondary sections. This segregation was undertaken to minimise mingling to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Teachers and staffers welcomed the boys and girls with hand sanitiser and thermal guns to check their temperature and advised them to wear masks at all times throughout the school hours. Basu has said that no student would be forced to attend physical classes and it is up to them and their parents to take a call on this.
“As our surrounding world is inching towards normalcy, schools are opening their gates for students once again. My love and wishes to dear students; study well and maintain safety protocols,” state minister Partha Chatterjee tweeted.
Some parents, though happy over the reopening of schools for physical classes, expressed apprehension whether their wards will adhere to the guidelines for COVID safety since the students will be seeing each other and sitting in classrooms together after a very long time. Educational institutions were closed for physical classes in March, 2020 after the central government announced a countrywide COVID-induced lockdown.
Though the lockdown was later lifted, schools and colleges continued to remain closed in the state owing to the pandemic situation.
Colleges and universities also opened their gates to students on Tuesday, although authorities of some of these institutions have said that different days will be scheduled for various faculties to reduce crowding and mingling on campuses. “I am thrilled to be back in school after such a long time, interacting online can never be as good as talking to friends and teachers face to face,” said Sohini Mukherjee, student of a private school in south Kolkata, told .
Students have been asked not to share their tiffin and to adhere to social distancing norms. “Though I have asked my son to adhere to the norms, I really do not know how far they will actually maintain these, given that they will be meeting after such a long time,” said Partha Biswas, parent of a class 9 student, to the news agency.