Attendance low on first day of schools operating at full capacity

Many of them are now planning to conduct open-air classes

Despite upper primary and high schools opening their doors to all students and operating at 100% capacity for all of Friday, attendance remained low, especially in private schools. Many managements had also decided not to operate for the entire day because of lack of adequate infrastructure.

To address the problem and allay fears of children contracting COVID-19 in packed classrooms, some schools have decided to conduct classes outdoors. “We do not have adequate classrooms to maintain social distancing among students. Open-air classes is one solution,” said the principal of a private school in Bengaluru.

Many other schools also decided to run classes only for half the day as they felt that managing children and ensuring that they followed COVID-appropriate behaviour during the lunch break and short break would be a challenge.

Mansoor Ali Khan, member of the board of management at Delhi Public School, said they would start physical classes after the Dasara holidays. “We are considering conducting classes in open spaces such as playgrounds and basketball courts,” he said.

D. Shashi Kumar, general secretary of the Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, also reported low attendance on Friday. “We expect students to come to school after the Dasara holidays as parents are worried about the viral flu that is in the air,” he said, adding that many of its member schools were planning to conduct classes in auditoriums, rooftops, and playgrounds. “We are running out of time as the academic calendar has been disrupted. So we will conduct full-day classes and utilise all the infrastructure we have. Once primary classes reopen, we will find it challenging to maintain physical distance among students,” he said.

Most parents are open to the idea of classes being held in outdoor spaces, according to principals. Ranju S., whose son studies in class VII, said, “As children are not vaccinated, I will be more confident about sending my child to school if classes are held outdoors. I will give my consent only if this is done. I have told the class teacher that my son will not enter the school building,” she said.

BMTC to operate 100 more buses

Starting Monday, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) will run an additional 100 buses on various routes for the benefit of students and other commuters. In a press release, the BMTC said that it has been gradually increasing services after the State government lifted lockdown restrictions. At present, it is operating 4,953 buses. However, a majority of the AC buses in its fleet are still off the roads.

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