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Happy hours to unsure times

- Fate of a school and profile of four youths involved in the early morning Short Street firing

Students reached Young Minds International School as usual on Monday morning, only to return home with parents worried about when they could send their children back to school, if at all.

The school headed by Mamta Agarwal, who was arrested earlier in the day, has 75 children on its rolls .

“Yes, I am worried about my son, I don’t know which school to send him to now. I can vouch for the fact that there cannot be a better montessori school than YMI in Kolkata,” read a Facebook post of a mother whose son is a student at the playschool on Short Street.

Parents of the children say Agarwal was the only point of contact for them and Monday’s turn of events have left them staring at uncertainty. “It is mid-session,” pointed out a parent, expressing concern over whether her child would get admission to any other preschool.

Playschools help children get accustomed to the concept of school and prepare them for admission to high school. Young Minds offers “preschool, Montessori, kindergarten and early primary school” training children from one to eight years and parents were happy with its teaching methods.

“For newly admitted children, a parent would be allowed to sit in the classroom for a week to get the child used to the new environment,” said the father of a two-and-a-half-year-old.

The school boasts a healthy teacher-student ratio. “For 15 students in my son’s class, there were two teachers and two helpers,” said a parent.

The school has four classrooms, a hall and a playroom with different kinds of cars that can be paddled or dragged by feet, a tree house and other toys, a sandpit and a playing area with plastic see-saws and slides.

Children are also given toilet training and taught how to eat properly and interact with people. The school fee is Rs 11,500 per quarter, including a tuition fee of Rs 3,000 per month and material fee of Rs 2,500 per quarter.

The school, parents said, also believed in flexible timings. “Though it is supposed to start at 9am, we could also take our children at 9.15 or 9.30 as it is a playschool,” said a mother whose son is in preschool.

Parents said they had been called to a meeting on September 17, two days after an attack on the school, to discuss security issues.

“It was after the meeting that CCTV cameras were installed on the premises and a guard posted outside the gate also. When parents said she could have armed guards, the principal was not willing as that would scare children,” said a father who attended the meeting.