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Schools reel under dengue attack

Schools are conducting extra classes, holding re-examinations and counselling parents to help students cope with unprecedented absenteeism following the dengue outbreak.

The authorities of St. James’ School said several students had stayed away from class for varying durations because of dengue or the fear of having contracted the disease over the past month. The situation is similar on most other campuses, too.

“Over the past month, I have been signing two-three applications daily from students rejoining classes after recovering from dengue or symptoms associated with the disease,” said Terence Ireland, the principal of St. James’ School.

In several other schools, at least 10-12 students in each class are down with dengue or viral fever.

At Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Mahadevi Birla World Academy (formerly Mahadevi Birla Girls’ Higher Secondary School), the authorities will conduct special tests for those who are missing their terminal exams because of illness.

“The assessment for the middle section starts on Friday and I have already received applications from eight or nine students who are suffering from dengue and will not be able to write the papers. We will conduct a test for them later,” said Malini Bhagat, the principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy. Bhagat said around 40 students of her school, mostly in the middle section, are infected with the dengue virus. “I have not seen such an outbreak and such absenteeism because of one disease,” she added.

St. James’ School and La Martiniere for Boys will not hold any re-test but have assured the ailing students missing the exams would not be penalised during the annual assessment.

“About six-seven students are unable to write their half-yearly exams because of dengue. Close to 30 students have contracted the disease this season,” said Sunirmal Chakravarthi, the principal of La Martiniere for Boys.

La Martiniere for Girls is holding additional classes for students who could not attend school because of illness. “The extra classes are being held after school and on Saturday (the school is usually closed on Saturdays). The children are being asked to share notes,” said principal Lorraine Mirza.

The school has also launched an awareness drive against dengue, with student-members of the Nature Club writing to all parents offering tips on how to prevent infection. A dengue awareness session with doctors followed by a walk will be conducted on Friday afternoon.

At The Heritage School, about 20 students from classes V to XII could not write the first-term exams that ended recently. “Some parents had said their children were insisting on writing the papers despite being down with dengue. They were allowed to take the test at home,” said principal Seema Sapru.

The school follows the system of giving 20 per cent weightage each to the results of the first-term exams and that of the weekly tests, and 60 per cent to the performance in the final exams. The students who missed the first-term test, including those who wrote the papers at home, will be assessed on an 80-marks scale, instead of a 100-marks one.

At St. James’, parents of students who had stayed away from classes for two-three weeks are being urged to meet the subject teachers. “The teachers will advise the parents on what the student needs to do to make up for the missed classes,” said Ireland.

The South Point management has advised parents not to send their children to school if they are running a temperature.