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Social distancing a distant dream in Kolkata schools

Rule difficult to implement and follow during tiffin break and dispersal, say teachers

Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 05.04.22, 06:20 AM
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Representational image

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Distancing is a distant possibility at a time in-person classes have resumed in full strength, and more so during dispersal, said parents and heads of several schools.

A number of schools have started classes in the new session and some will do so in the next few days. Several school heads said that with all students on the campus together again, it would be impossible to maintain physical distance, which public health experts have been urging all to follow to keep Covid at bay.


The school heads this newspaper spoke to said the norm was almost impossible to implement when classes end for the day or students play on the ground, or during the tiffin break, when students tend to share food.

Several schools are doing away with hybrid classes - a mix of online and offline classes - and all children are back on campus.

“When there is 95 per cent attendance, there can be no distance between students,” said a teacher.

“We are working full strength and the children will be sitting one beside another (unlike in the hybrid model where some students attend lectures from home),” said Satabdi Bhattacharjee, principal, The Newtown School.

On Monday, parents were seen crowding outside many schools, waiting to take their children back home, a sight that was missing over the last two years.

Some schools have only one gate, which makes it difficult for the authorities to maintain the distancing norm when students leave for home.

“It is hot now and parents are in a hurry to take their children back. Despite the staggered timings, maintaining distance is a challenge,” said Anjana Saha, principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.

“How much can a teacher supervise during breaks? Also, it is not right to do so continuously,” said Purnima Chatterjee, vice-principal of MP Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School.

Several schools said they were doing away with hybrid classes because teaching two sets of students — one in class and another at home — was leaving the teachers with divided attention.

“If we have to maintain the distancing norm, hybrid classes are the alternative. The benefit of regular in-person schooling has to be prioritised at a time when Covid numbers are low,” said Amita Prasad, director, Indus Valley World School.

“In fact, the urgency is more because we have to make the most of the window we are getting.”

Terence John, principal of Julien Day School, Kalyani, said they would insist on maintaining hygiene, washing hands and wearing masks.

“Full-fledged school”, he said, cannot resume if the distancing norm is to be maintained.

Schools have asked parents not to send their children to class if they are suffering from any Covid symptoms.

“If a child runs a temperature or has a runny nose, the parents must not send him or her to class,” said Bhattacharjee, of The Newtown School.

Last updated on 05.04.22, 06:20 AM

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