Confusion, safety concerns, lethargy mark first day of school reopening

Very few students turn up for classes after an almost 18-month gap

Under a mango-leaf decked arch, a line of students — some in uniform, some in regular clothes — walked behind drummers as they entered the Mandal Parishad Primary School in Rayalapur on Wednesday for the most unusual and memorable welcome after an 18-month gap.

“Some of the children are seeing a school for the first time in their life. Our staff members thought up the idea yesterday and we implemented it today. The student strength of the school is 81 and 35 turned up,” said Siddi Ramulu, the school headmaster.

But confusion, safety concerns and lethargy turned school reopening in Hyderabad into a tame affair. Schools across the State had been shut for the past one-and-a-half year due to COVID-19 lockdown and concerns. At prayer time around 9 a.m., at the MPP Primary School, Hyderguda, only three students turned up for classes. One boy cycled into the school to ask when the school will start functioning and then pedalled home to return in uniform. “Attending classes is better than online classes as we get to study as well as play and meet friends. I like to study in school; at home, it is different,” said Gnaneshwar, a Class V student, who returned to school after studying Class III.

“I am sending across text messages and parents are calling up to ask about reopening. Parents got confused as the High Court orders for residential schools were misinterpreted as extending to all schools,” said Suhasini, the headmistress of the school in between attending multiple calls from parents.

At Upparpally Primary School, five children turned up around prayer time. “Where is your mask? Take it from the table,” said Manjula, a teacher, to a student who ambled in around 9.25 a.m. “We have made arrangements for additional masks and sanitiser for students. It is still early, once students turn up in numbers, we will ensure that they sit at a distance from each other,” said the headmistress, who teaches students of Class I at the school.

In private schools, the buses stayed parked in bus bays and only the teaching and non-teaching staff turned up. “We don’t have consent from parents for reopening of the school. There is a lot of confusion about when we can start offline classes. We are now planning to start classes from Monday,” said K.K. Kousallia, a correspondent of Priyadarshini High School in Golconda area.

“The school has made it clear that if my child becomes ill, it will not be their responsibility. I decided that I will not take any chances and therefore, didn’t send my son to school. He is attending online classes,” said a parent whose ward is in Class VIII of Sri Vidyaniketan in Rambagh Colony.

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