Multiple reputable private schools in Kolkata have decided to keep a watch on the situation before calling students back to the campus because of the rising number of Covid cases.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had on Monday announced that Classes IX to XII at state-run and state-aided schools would reopen across Bengal from November 16. The decision doesn’t strictly cover private schools, an official said.
The heads of several private schools said that even if they resumed in-person classes, only a small number of students would be called to the campus.
The authorities of a number of schools said consent forms, which parents need to sign before sending their children to school, would be sent only after Diwali, following
an assessment of the Covid situation.
“It is an important step and we have to reopen. But it would have been easier had the Covid numbers not risen. We will go slow, be watchful of the situation…” said Rupkatha Sarkar, principal, La Martiniere for Girls.
Even if in-person classes resume, Sarkar said, students will be brought back in “small numbers” because “crowd breeds the virus.”
La Martiniere for Boys and La Martiniere for Girls will not call Classes X and XII before the onsite semester 1 exams.
Modern High School for Girls is concentrating on the board exams and “securing the sanitisation for the board exams”, as of now.
Loreto House and St James’ School will assess the Covid situation before taking a decision, officials of both institutions said.
“The children are not vaccinated. Hence, parents are apprehensive of sending them to school. As of now online classes will continue,” said Aruna Gomes, principal of Loreto House.
At St James’ School, internal exams of Classes IX and XI are to be held soon. The authorities are deliberating whether to hold them on the campus.
“We will have to assess the situation before making any decision and we need parents’ consent, too,” said principal Terence Ireland.
Krishna Damani, trustee of South Point School, said: “There are still three weeks to go. If the numbers tell a different story, we will have to rethink. We won’t be taking unnecessary risks. But students need to attend practical classes.”
At Jadavpur Vidyapith, a government-aided school, Classes IX to XII are being divided into smaller groups and seating arrangements are being tweaked so in-person classes can be held complying with the Covid protocol.
“We have created smart classrooms. While a class is on, lectures will be streamed live for students at home,” said headmaster Parimal Bhattacharyya.
State-run and state-aided schools in the city are preparing to reopen the campuses from November 16 following the nod from the chief minister. Some of the schools have decided to discontinue online classes once in-person classes resume.
An official of the education department said staggered hours for arrival and dispersal of students would be followed. The decision was taken at a meeting attended by senior officials, including education secretary Manish Jain.
But not all government schools have enough resources to continue with blended learning.
“We will start on-campus classes. The students who cannot come to the campus will have to manage on their own because it won’t be possible for us to run in-person as well as remote sessions,” said Papiya Singha Mahapatra, headmistress of Sakhawat Memorial Govt. Girls’ High School.