Corridors rang out with the chatter of students meeting up with their friends and teachers after 10 anxious months on Thursday, as schools in the state reopened with strict Covid regulations.
Though many students attended school with letters of consent from their parents, some chose to continue education online with their guardians anxious about the Covid situation and the emergence of a new strain of Covid.
Jalandhar and Patiala government schools reported a mixed response with around 50 per cent of students joining classes physically, while Amritsar reported a low turnout with the overall student strength in most of the government schools remaining below 2 per cent. However, private schools in both the districts struggled to bring students back.
At Government Middle School, Ravidas Nagar, Jalandhar, in-charge Jasveer Kaur said: “Of the 117 students in Classes 6-8, as many as 60 came to attend classes today. Majority of the parents are reluctant to send their wards to school. As it was a Parents-Teacher Meet today, we assured them that all safety guidelines are being followed. Later, they also signed the consent forms.”
The head teacher of Government Primary School in Anand Nagar, Jalandhar, said: “Only 13 of the 29 students came to the school today. We had informed the parents about the reopening of schools over phone after the Education Minister’s announcement.”
Suresh Kumar, principal, Government Elementary School, Amritsar, said: “We are calling PTMs to inform parents about the safety measures being taken. Classes were held till 2 pm and 10-12 students were seated in each classroom to ensure social distancing.”
While students of Class 9 onwards had been attending classes since October 15, private schools were seen waiting for parental consent before calling in students.
Dr Anita Bhalla, secretary of Sahodaya Schools, Amritsar, said: “Thorough planning will be done. We will consult everyone to make time table, sitting plans in classrooms with social distance and a meeting in this regard was held today. Students will be called only after taking parental consent.”
Excited at rejoining the school, Tamanna, a Class-8 student, said: “It feels like almost a year since we met our teachers and classmates. Owing to unavailability of unlimited Internet and a smartphone, I had to skip many of my virtual classes. Most of the chapters also remained unclear. However, now I’m expecting to cover the syllabus in the presence of my teachers.”Ishu, another student, said: “Online classes can’t replace the experience of offline classes. The longer screen time strained my eyes. Poor Internet connection remained a major constraint.” Jalandhar District Education Officer Harinder Pal Singh said there was a turnout of nearly 60 per cent students in the government schools today.