The Telegraph
Saturday , April 26 , 2014
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Summer break starts early

- EC to take over many private schools for polls

Summer vacation at several schools in Calcutta will start about a week before the normal mid-May schedule because of the Lok Sabha election.

The Election Commission (EC) will take over the campuses either to set up polling booths or to accommodate security personnel.

The schools where booths will be set up will have to be handed over to the EC a couple of days before polling while those housing election-duty security personnel will be taken over several days in advance.

Summer break usually starts around May 15 in Calcutta schools.

Many state-aided schools have already switched to vacation mode because of the extreme heat and Lok Sabha election.

Vacation starts at Mahadevi Birla World Academy and Future Foundation School on May 9 while it will be the last working day at Calcutta Boys’ School and National Gems Higher Secondary School before the break.

Holiday begins at the junior section (nursery, kindergarten, Class I and II) of Calcutta Boys’ on May 3.

“We had mentioned in the school diary that May 17 will be the last working day but we have to close at least a week before schedule because of the elections,” said Raja McGee, the principal of Calcutta Boys’.

Most schools are unlikely to tweak the reopening dates but not Apeejay School Salt Lake where summer holidays begin on May 1 because barracks will be set up much in advance for paramilitary personnel. The premises will be handed back to the school on May 15.

“We have to open earlier than schedule… or else, we will be missing about 15 days of classes. We have the syllabus to complete and have to achieve 220 working days,” said Reeta Chatterjee, the principal of Apeejay Schools.

Calcutta votes on May 12 while counting is slated for May 16.

The schools where booths would be set up were contemplating holding classes on the days between polling and counting.

Some schools were averse to the idea of giving their campuses to the EC during polls. They complained that on earlier occasions schools were turned into a mess of paan stains and food packets strewn all over.

“The betel stains are so bad that we had to scrape and whitewash the walls. Clearing the trash and cleaning the premises take more than a day,” a principal said.

The EC’s hands are tied because no state or city has spare facilities large enough to set up poll booths and accommodate a sizeable deployment of security forces.

“Force deployment is done two days before the polls and polling personnel reach the booths a day in advance,” said Saibal Barman, a senior election official. The EC also conducts drills to ensure that all arrangements are ready.

Security personnel move in days before polling because they need to familiarise themselves with the surroundings, a police officer said.

Heat effect

The heatwave has forced several schools to tweak their timings. Mahadevi Birla World Academy will give over at 12.30pm from Monday while Frank Anthony Public School will conduct its nursery and preparatory classes on alternate days from 7.30am to 10am.

Classes I to IV will begin at 7.30am and end at 11.20am while classes V to XII will be over at 11.50am.