VIJAYAWADA/ VISAKHAPATNAM/ GUNTUR/ KURNOOL/ TIRUPATI: A fortnight after reopening of schools, students’ turnout in many schools across Krishna district is good despite fear of a third wave of the Covid pandemic. The state government reopened the schools for class I to X on August 16 with strict implementation of Covid protocol. The district has over 4,000 schools.
When TNIE conducted a ground-level inspection at APSRMC High School, Krishna Lanka, on Thursday several parents were seen accompanying their wards to the school. The school staff displayed COVID-19 precautions on the premises and all the children were seen wearing masks.
The total student strength is 350. Prasanna Kumar, a class X student of the school, said that it took a couple of days for him to get adjusted to the situation. “The school management is allowing us to enter the school premises only after checking our temperature and sanitising our hands. Earlier, the student strength stood at 40 per class, however, following the guidelines from the government, only 20 students are allowed to sit in a classroom,” he said. However, he prefers offline classes to online classes. “The advantage of offline classes is that any student can get their doubts clarified with the teacher and it is easy to understand the subject,” he reasoned.
B Somu Sundar, Physical Science Teacher and in-charge headmaster said that students turnout was low during the initial days, but it reached 70 per cent now. Krishan district educational officer Tahera Sultana said of the 4,444 schools in the district, 60-70 per cent attendance was registered. She added that 73 Covid cases emerged in the schools in the district— 51 students and 22 teachers.
High alert in Guntur
Four students tested positive for Covid in Guntur district in the first week. Since then, the health department is conducting random tests at schools as a precautionary measure.SKKBMC Municipal High School at Agraharam has a strength of 1,100 and classes are being conducted on alternative days for students as only 20 are seated in each classroom. However, 80-85% of attendance is being recorded every day. All the 38 teachers in the school got administered with Covid-19 vaccine. Incharge headmaster Vijay Kumar said wearing a face mask and carrying a sanitiser is a must for students.
G Lakshmi, an English teacher, said it is a bit difficult for children to wear face masks all the time and avoid contact with their friends. “So we are extra cautious and advice them to carry their own things including water bottles. Class leaders are given specific instructions to make sure every student in the class is following Covid regulations,” she said. Anjali, a parent of a student, said that his son was very upset before reopening of schools. He is very happy now,” she added.
Students feel safe at school
Most government school students and their parents find school as a secure and safe place. KDPM High School in Vizag has been conducting classes on alternate days. Every day around 400 students come to school. Out of them, approximately only 100 students are opting for mid-day meals. The school authorities said that many students are bringing lunch in view of Covid-19. Both the teaching and non-teaching staff have been fully vaccinated.
“A majority of the students come from Jalaripeta. Most of their parents head for work everyday. So, for them, school is the safest place,” said T Sridevi, Headmistress of KDPM High School. “At present, around 70 per cent of the children are attending classes. Some parents didn’t want to send their children to school initially. But they came on board after seeing the precautions taken at the school,” said principal of AU High School M Chandrakala. “Of course, I want to come to school, I can see my friends,” said Yamuna, a class 9 student, when asked.
Less attendance in Kurnool
In Zilla parishath high school at Pasupula village of Kurnool mandal, only 73 students attended classes on Thursday against the total strength of 191. Due to non-availability of classrooms in the school (only three rooms including staff room), the school management has decided to run classes on alternative days. School head mistress Y Anuradha said they are following strict Covid protocol.“Though my parents are not interested in sending me to school, I am keen to attend classes,” said a class 10 student. When TNIE visited the school on Thursday, violation of Covid protocol was found. There was no physical distance in the classrooms and at least 30 per cent of the students were not wearing face masks.According to district educational officials, 4,36,444 students attended classes on Thursday against the total strength of 5,56,681. Only one Covid positive case was reported from Kurnool schools.
50% turnout in Tirupati
In several schools in Tirupati, attendance continues to hover below 50 per cent. Teachers attribute the low turnout to apprehensions among parents and reports of many teachers and students testing positive for the coronavirus.On Thursday, TNIE visited the Mahatma Gandhi Municipal Corporation (MGMC) school in Bairagipatteda. On August 31, 57-year-old teacher B Madhusudan Reddy working at school tested positive for Covid. He had taken two doses of Covid-19 vaccine. GMC School Head Mistress V Aruna said, “Immediately after the teacher tested positive for the virus, the school campus and premises were sanitised by the corporation health staff.”Although the state government clearly stated that only 20 students should be allowed to sit in a classroom, at least 25 students were seen sharing a classroom at the MGMC school on Thursday.