Schools in West Bengal are ready to welcome students after nearly 20 months and last-minute preparations are under way to ensure a COVID-safe environment.
Staggered entry, trained teams to oversee safety protocol, online submission of classwork and homework and floor stickers to ensure distancing are just some of the measures being adopted in Kolkata schools ahead of the November 16 reopening.
Four schools share their details of the preparations:
Chairs marked in a classroom at Birla High School to ensure distancing among students. Source: School Birla High School
The school on Moira Street has decided to stagger entry of students through its various entrances.
“The whole school has been sanitised, every member of the staff is double vaccinated. Now, we are gearing up to ensure that the students follow strict COVID protocol on the campus. We will be using staggered entries through different gates post thermal check. We are keeping extra masks handy. The school canteen will have only dry food, sharing food will not be allowed and students have been asked to bring their own water,” said Loveleen Saigal, the principal of Birla High School.
The school is also keeping an isolation room ready for any student showing COVID-like symptoms.
Students will initially attend school by rotation. The school will adopt hybrid mode of teaching and only 50% students will attend offline classes at a time. “We have invested a lot in cameras and tripods to ensure that we can livestream lessons. To begin with, we will split the students across 15 large classrooms to ensure distancing,” Saigal said.
Apeejay Schools on Park Street and Salt Lake are ready with the required infrastructure to ensure COVID-s19 safety protocol.
“All our teachers and staff are fully vaccinated. We have been preparing for months for the reopening in keeping with government guidelines. For offline exams, we are following the norms laid down by the state government. Besides, we have trained administrative teams who will keep strict vigil on hygiene measures, including handwashing, respiratory etiquette, physical distancing measures, cleaning procedures for facilities, and safe food preparation practices,” said Kiranjit Singh Pannu, chief executive officer, Apeejay Schools (Kolkata, Haldia and Bhubaneswar).
Both the Apeejay Schools in Kolkata have a drawn up a special plan to welcome students and ease any feelings of anxiety or fear. “The well-qualified and experienced faculty, including counselling teams at both our schools, have planned in-classroom circle time and sharing sessions for students to be able to express themselves. With 20 months of online teaching-learning and very little outside connection, the students have been deprived of peer engagement and development. The Apeejay Schools has planned sessions, activities and customised support groups to ensure that every child feels connected, gets moral support and feels happy to be back,” Pannu said.
An isolation room has been kept ready at Lakshmipat Singhania Academy for anyone showing COVID-like symptoms. Lakshmipat Singhania Academy
Lakshmipat Singhania Academy
Lakshmipat Singhania Academy director Meena Kak has been personally overseeing all preparations at the school.
Many parents have shared their apprehensions about sending students to school, hence the school has decided to begin classes in hybrid mode.
“Stickers with footprints have been put all around the common areas in the school to ensure that students do not crowd any place and always maintain distance. Each classroom has COVID-related rules to be followed, posters related to the same have been put up in every classroom. Those using elevators, too, have to follow certain rules. Additionally, we have three isolation beds and a nurse on standby,” Kak said.
Modern High School for Girls
Several rounds of fumigation done, the school is ready to welcome students back. Principal Damayanti Mukherjee has given strict instructions to ensure that no one removes their mask in school.
“We will not be encouraging any work that involves contact. For example, even when a child attends physical class, classwork and homework will be submitted online. We are keeping every safety measure in place,” Mukhejee said.“All of us are excited to welcome our students back to classroom. Our teachers are really happy that schools are finally reopening.”