‘Schools can function in shifts if they do not have adequate classrooms’

Minister speaks about measures to be taken ahead of reopening classes VI to VIII

With the State government deciding to reopen classes VI to VIII from next Monday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister B.C. Nagesh spoke to The Hindu on the plan ahead and measures to take to improve attendance.

There is improvement in attendance in high schools, but not II PU. What will be done to improve attendance?

Department officials and teachers have told me that after any long vacation, it takes 15 days for attendance to stabilise as students would have gone to their hometowns. In this case, many parents are observing the measures taken by schools and colleges. We are certain that attendance will improve in the next few days.

Will schools face shortage of infrastructure, particularly classrooms, if upper primary classes reopen?

Although most schools will have adequate classrooms, we want to be extra careful and ensure there is physical distancing between students. Large schools with adequate classrooms can function easily. Schools which have shortage of classrooms will have to ask classes IX and X to come in the morning and classes VI to VIII in the afternoon.

Why did the government decide not to reopen lower primary classes, despite demand from stakeholders?

All stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, and school managements, want primary schools to be reopened as these students have not attended physical classes for more than one-and-a-half years now. But with cases rising in Kerala, we will wait and watch and will decide after Ganesha Chaturthi.

Has the government tested students attending offline classes?

Samples of 6,472 high school and PU students were tested for COVID-19. While we are yet to obtain the results of all the students, so far, only 14 students tested positive. The Department of Health and Family Welfare did the survey and our department will analyse this data and take appropriate measures this week.

Are all high schools and PU colleges following SOPs laid down by the department?

Majority of the schools and PU colleges have followed all the details laid down in the SOPs. Only 10% of schools have not and our officers are asking them to comply with all the measures so that the safety of students is not compromised. It has come to our notice that some schools are not maintaining adequate distance in the classrooms as they do not have sufficient seating arrangements.

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