Schools that were traditionally fastidious about how students dressed have slightly relaxed their norms for the children returning to school physically after 20 months.
Mental health professionals said it was essential to wean children out of the home mode.
Girls have coloured their hair and the teachers are looking the other way. Boys are wearing their hair long but the school barber has not been called into action.
Students have also outgrown their uniform and school heads are allowing them to wear what they have because the last time they used their winter cardigan was when they were two classes junior.
The last time a Class IX student wore a blazer or a cardigan was when they were in Class VII. Schools that wanted their children to be prim and proper are now extending a leeway.
Modern High School for Girls had told students to stick to the school colour of the cardigan but they could wear what they have at home. “We are going easy on them. It is fine if they maintain the school colour till the time they get their size and fit of winter uniform,” said Damayanti Mukherjee, the principal of the school.
The Heritage School and South City International School are allowing students to wear their regular or sports uniform.
“We cannot burden children or parents by being strict,” said John Bagul, principal of South City.
In several traditional boys’ schools a barber would be called in if the hair is not in place.
But now Calcutta Boys’ School said they would “go slow”. The warning will still be there but not the penalty, a school official said.
“We believe in total academic and personality development. Slowly and gradually we will re-inculcate discipline and grooming and restore the urge for self improvement and development in our students,” said Raja McGee, the principal of Calcutta Boys’.
Mobile phones were a strict no-no in school and students who would sneak one in their bag had to deposit it in the school office if caught.
Rules have changed now.
“Many of them are using private vehicles. They need to contact parents or drivers during dispersal,” said Sonali Sen, the principal of Delhi Public School New Town. Carrying the phone does not mean students are allowed to use it at will, the schools insisted.
Early mornings are back. But the school is not closing the door five minutes before assembly. “We are not going to be too strict at present. It is important that we make them feel welcome and wanted,” said R.S. Bhattacharjee, the principal, South Point High School.
Something that a few students would earlier dare dream of: hair colour.
Many schools are allowing children time to return to their natural colours rather than coming down heavily on them.
“All these months students have been at home and we are considerate of that. We are not being as stringent because we understand they have gone through a difficult time,” said Rupkatha Sarkar, principal, La Martiniere for Girls.
“We are being empathetic…. We understand they were in confinement,” said Nupur Ghosh, the vice-principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.
Schools will have to be more flexible about rules to wean them off the ways of home, said psychotherapist and school counsellor Farishta Dastur Mukerji.
It could take a while for children to be able to get used the physical school system, mental health professionals said.