CHENNAI: The acute water shortage and scorching heat are putting city children at the risk of several health and hygiene issues. With many private schools in Chennai grappling without water, students are being forced to use dirty toilets and carry extra water bottles for washing.
“Many schools have granted holidays for primary classes, some asking students to leave midday,” says KR Nandakumar, president of private schools association.
“Several schools are asking students to carry extra water bottles for toilet use,” says Nandakumar. “We tried requesting the government to help, but there is very little they can do as well.”
“The toilets are always dirty and buckets empty,” says a Class-V girl studying in a CBSE school in Chromepet. “We have no choice... Some days, I wait all day and use the toilet only after getting home.” Not just water, the searing heat has been impacting academics in several other ways.
Many schools are avoiding sending students to the ground for PT classes. Some schools have even started holding the morning Assembly indoors.
“Many students started fainting during warmup sessions. So we had to cancel outdoor PT classes,” says S Suneera, principal of a private school in T Nagar. On Wednesday, Crescent Matriculation school in Nungambakkam worked only half day.
"We have instructed children not to run around the campus till weather improves," says the PT teacher of a girls' school in Nungambakkam. "As the PT period is mostly scheduled at the end of the day, and the heat is the worst afternoon, students run the risk of getting dehydrated. So we are trying to engage them with indoor activities."
Struggling to cope with heat and water crisis, Crescent Matriculation School in Nungambakkam worked for just four hours on Wednesday. All classes post noon were cancelled. "Classrooms get very hot and there isn't enough water in toilets, so we asked parents to pick up their wards by noon," says a teacher working in the school.
Not just Crescent, many schools in Chennai and Kancheepuram have decided to work only half day till the situation improves. Kathri Matriculation School in Kancheepuram announced it would work only half day on Wednesday due to water shortage. However, they later decided to function full day as water was made available.
Anusha Lakshmi, Principal of Chettinad Vidyashram, told Express that their management had also advised students against loitering unnecessarily on campus. "We have cancelled all sports and outdoor activities including assembly programmes. We have closed the swimming pool as it is outdoor as well," she said. A School Education Department official said schools can decide on cancelling outdoor activities.