A section of students till Class VIII has become less agile and even lethargic, said teachers who have been observing them as they return to campus after almost two years.
Some students have been slouching in class. Many of those who would earlier bound up and down the staircase now seem to trudge along, leaning on the handrail and at times gasping for breath.
The head of a school said they were making a deliberate effort to get students up from their seats and back to the field.
Students did attend physical training in the last two years, when campuses were shut and classes were held online as a precaution against Covid, but in a limited space and on concrete floors in front of the computer screen.
Many teachers said that could hardly be called physical training.
“The lack of physical exercise has made them less agile. We have started physical training classes in school and every class is mandatory,’’ said Sunita Sen, principal of The BSS School.
Sen said children would run up and down the stairs two years ago. Not any more. “There is a definite drop in their energy levels,” she said.
At one school, a Class V boy struggled to bend down to touch the principal’s feet. At another, students are often found slouching in their seats, prompting teachers to constantly urge them to sit straight.
Jessica Gomes Surana, principal of Loreto Convent, Entally, said: “The children are sluggish and lethargic. As they climb up the staircase they lean against the wall or handrail. While walking they seem to be dragging their feet.”
She has noticed that many kids lack the characteristic verve even when talking.
A typical school day consists of a lot of physical activity, something that was completely missing when classes were held online.
“In school they have to climb up and down the stairs and run on the playground. They often have to change classrooms. They did nothing of that sort over the past two years. Rather, when they attended classes from home, they even had the liberty to snack in between classes,” said a teacher.
The father of a Class VII student has noticed changes in his son in the last two years. The 13-year-old would earlier play cricket or football for an hour every day after school. That stopped following the closure of schools.
“He has gained weight and we have to push him to even get up and fetch something from another room. He has become lethargic,” said father P. Sinha.
Nabarun Chattaraj, a sports teacher at a school, said: “When they attended classes at home I could not have asked them to do exercises that I normally do with them. At home they attended classes on the terrace or concrete floor. They would have hurt themselves if I had asked them to do those exercises.”