Punjab: After 6 months, students back in class to clear doubts, amid strict Covid rules

With COVID-19 cases on the decline in Punjab for the past two weeks, private schools in the state have started opening up for students of classes X and XII. These students are being allowed to come to school to clear their doubts, but only with the written consent from their parents.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had on October 8 issued a detailed 55-page Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) document that its affiliated schools have to follow when schools are reopened.

Earlier on September 20, in partial modification of Unlock 4.0 guidelines in compliance with directives of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Punjab government had allowed students of classes IX to XII to visit their schools in areas outside containment zones on a ‘voluntary basis’, for taking guidance from their teachers, but only after written consent from their parents.

On Monday, DAV Public School, BRS Nagar and BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar in Ludhiana, welcomed board class students after a gap of nearly six months since the lockdown was imposed in March-end.

At DAV Public School, BRS Nagar, students of class XII were welcomed amid chants of Gayatri Mantra and showering of flower petals. Principal J K Sidhu, speaking to The Indian Express, said, “We received consent from parents of 23 students of class XII. However, today only 16 of them arrived. All students were wearing masks and sanitized their hands before entering classrooms. We checked their temperatures with thermal screening and other vitals with oximeters before allowing them inside classrooms. We have divided days for class X and XII. From Mondays to Wednesdays, class XII will come and from Thursdays to Saturdays, class X students will come. The doubt clearing classes are for 2 hours 30 minutes only so we did not allow eatables. Also, one boy/girl was allowed to go to the washroom at a time.”

She added: “We have almost 300 students in class XII, but parents of only 23 students have given their consent for attending doubt clearing classes. For class X, we have received consent of the parents of 32 students. After seeing today’s arrangements, maybe more parents will give their consent in the coming days.” She further said that each student sat individually on one bench and cross marks were put on benches to follow social distancing. “We are waiting for Punjab government orders to resume classes for other standards,” she said.

Meanwhile, students who arrived on their school campus after six months, shared that it was a different feeling altogether as they could not contain their excitement to get back to school again after such a long time.

At BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar, a total of 150 students from class X and XII turned up on day one of the doubt clearing classes. Principal Paramjit Kaur said, “We have divided class X and XII students in two batches, who will come on alternate days and in two shifts. Not more than 12 students are made to sit in each classroom. They attended classes for two hours, the canteen was not opened and they had to carry their own water bottles. There was thermal screening, mandatory wearing of masks and hand sanitisation. We have opened for board classes only and they can come for two hours to clear their doubts on a voluntary basis with written consent of parents.”

Some other schools are planning to open only after October 15, as per the MHA Unlock guidelines issued on September 30.

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Navita Puri, principal, Kundan Vidya Mandir, Civil Lines, Ludhiana, said that they will be opening their school for class X and XII students from October 20. “We have decided to open for board classes from October 20 onwards. We have received consent from parents of 300 students till now and the process is still on. Not more than 20 students will be allowed to sit in each class and all guidelines issued by CBSE will be followed.”

A detailed SOP document issued by the CBSE for schools to follow has been made available on its website. Part 1 refers to the health and safety aspect for reopening of schools as per the instructions of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with regards to health and safety protocol. Part II refers to learning with physical/social distancing and aspects related to delivery of education, such as curriculum transactions, instructional load, timetables, assessment, emotional and mental health of students etc.

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