Schoolchildren in Ranchi are ferried home late on Wednesday afternoon. They may gain some respite from Thursday as timings change. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Midsummer days are blistering and mid-noon always records the highest temperature.
To protect schoolchildren from the harsh sun, district administrations across the state have directed cradles to wrap up classes by 11am. Doctors have welcomed the move, but at the same time sounded an alert on early school.
In their bid to compensate for loss of class hours, many premier schools in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Bokaro and elsewhere have revised starting time to around 6.30am from May 1. It effectively means that parents will have to wake up children between 4am and 5am depending on the distance between home and school. Crunching sleep hours, paediatricians stress, is most detrimental to child health.
CHHANDOSREE tries to find out viable solutions to this tricky situation
Abridge class hours
Dr Bhavya Jain of Orchid Medical Centre says schools should consider cutting short study time instead of sleep time for students.
“A child must eat and sleep properly before being sent to school. Many parents don’t follow the early-to-bed-early-to-rise mantra. There are few homes where children dine by 7pm and sleep by 8pm. In most cases, they are in bed only at 9pm, sometimes even later. If they wake up at 4am, they barely get 7 hours of sleep. In the rush, they don’t have breakfast properly.”
Result: children reach school hungry and without adequate sleep. “How will they replenish their energy, which is sapped in this peak summer? Three hours of classes is enough in this season. Syllabus can be finished through extra classes”
Dr P.N.S. Munda of Rani Hospital, a heal hub only for children, says it is sheer torture to ask children to come to school in this heat in the first place.
“I appreciate the decision to wrap up classes by 11am. But, I would have been even happier if schools declared vacation already. Every day, we are seeing at least 10 kids in the OPD complaining of dehydration; at least five are being admitted. Studies are important, but not at the cost of anything more precious.”
Dr Munda said if schools could not settle for early vacation, they must crunch hours. “As a doctor, I would recommend 8am to 11am school till the weather cools down”
Munch on breakfast
Dr Suhas Teterway of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences points out that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and children must not be forced fed in a rush.
“You can’t wake up a child at 4am, make him gulp food and pack him off to school by 5am. It is punishment. A child needs to munch on a healthy breakfast without which chances of sunstroke increase manifold. An empty stomach will never complement the brain. Learning will take a back seat.”
Dr Teterway too is of the opinion that three hours of classes, till the mercury plummets, would do less harm
We are helpless. If we announce a vacation now, there will be a section of parents complaining that children are not being taught properly. If we reduce class hours, they will still have the same gripe. So, we shall begin at 6.20am for juniors and 7.15am for seniors. We will call it a day by 10.30am for KG to Class V and noon for Classes VI to XII
Raju C.A. Singh (on behalf of principal Fr Ajit Xess)
St Xavier’s School, Ranchi
I agree the schedule is a problem. We have toddlers falling asleep in class. But then, we can’t cut short class hours because of syllabus pressure
Swarna Mishra, principal, Dayanand Public School, Jamshedpur