Heatwave conditions in Kolkata forced many schools to opt for an early summer vacation but now that it’s time for schools to reopen, the weather is once again uncomfortably hot and sultry. Determined to prevent learning loss, schools are adopting a string of measures from suspending outdoor activities and shifting to online mode to air-conditioning classrooms to ensure students stay safe from the sun.
The good news, however, is that the daytime temperature is likely to decrease in south Bengal districts gradually from June 19. Conditions are also slowly becoming favourable for further advance of the monsoon over south Bengal, according to a notification issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on June 15.
Caps, water and light diet
Schools that are resuming offline classes are encouraging students to cover themselves adequately to prevent direct exposure to the sun. Healthy dietary habits and proper hydration are also being promoted.
"The school is reopening on June 19 and the children will be encouraged to wear caps in the sun while travelling. They will be advised to sip water during classes to keep themselves hydrated. Parents will be requested to give light tiffin to their children so that they do not feel uncomfortable in the heat,” said Rupkatha Sarkar, the principal of La Martiniere for Girls.
Orchids The International School (Acharya Tulsi Academy), New Town, has made it mandatory for students to drink water every 40 minutes. Teachers have been asked to ensure that students follow the drill.
“The extreme weather condition in West Bengal has compelled many schools to extend their summer holidays, but getting away from academics will hamper studies. We have not extended the vacation since our classrooms and buses are air-conditioned. We also have an infirmary in school with two trained nurses. If any child feels dehydrated or ill, we are equipped to provide all necessary medical facilities," said Sharmili Shah, principal, Orchids The International School.
Stay indoors, stay safe
Most schools have withheld all outdoor activities to avoid prolonged exposure to heat. Physical education and games classes are also being held indoors.
The Heritage School has planned the week’s routine in a way to avoid outdoor activities.
“We have scheduled project-making for this week. All students make their summer vacation projects in school. So we reopened today and students will be in the classroom, completing their projects. That's it. No going out. They travel in air-conditioned buses to school and back,” said Seema Sapru, the principal of The Heritage School.
La Martiniere for Girls School has also suspended outdoor activities. “We shall have all outdoor activities in the shade with proper ventilation and air circulation. PT classes after 11.30am will be used for indoor activities like reading, quizzes etc," principal Sarkar said.
Bratati Bhattacharya, secretary general, Shri Shikshayatan School, also confirmed that the children will be kept indoors until weather conditions improve.
Birla High School (BHS) reopened for all students on June 16 but has been making all efforts to keep them safe. Principal Loveleen Saigal said: "No physical education classes are being held on the ground. Announcements are being made on the public address system, asking students to stay hydrated at all times."
Schools are engaging in several activities to raise awareness about climate change, encourage students to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and plant more trees.
Several schools have also decided to upgrade their infrastructure to fight the heatwave.
Modern High School for Girls will install air-conditioners in many classrooms. “We have to come to terms with the fact that these conditions are here to stay. We have decided to air-condition most of the classrooms and work has already started on this. However, we have been through the routine and will keep our children safe without compromising on our school goals in any way. Let us hope that the rains arrive by June 19 when we reopen!" said Devi Kar, director of Modern High School.