CHENNAI: Bustling corridors, lunch-room chatter, and the excitement on the playground – it’s school time again! Except, the schools are opening on Wednesday amid a pandemic and the school experience might not be the same again. School Education Minister, Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi announced on Tuesday that schools can function from 9:30 am till 3:30 pm. More than 10 schools that Express visited, however, will be functioning only till 1 pm or 1:30 pm to avoid lunch breaks.
“It is impossible to stop children from interacting with each other and sharing their food if there is a lunch break. Moreover, it has been a couple of years since the students had come to the school and the excitement is so much. So, we have decided to have classes only till 1 pm with a 5 minute break,” said Nirmala Gowri, Principal of KA Ekambaranathar Higher Secondary School in Kilpauk.
Principals of most schools said they will be following the same plan and avoid lunch breaks. The intervals are being planned in such a way that students of no two classes will have them at the same time. For instance, if class 9 students have break from 10:05 to 10:10 am, class 10 students will have it from 10:15 to 10:20 am.
The minister also made it clear that there will not be any physical education classes and none will be allowed on the playground. Nonetheless, most students from classes 9-12 who Express visited have decided to come to schools despite there being an option to attend classes online.
“We have staggered timings for classes to ensure minimal contact. Since there has already been a lot of learning gap due to the pandemic, physical classes will help bridge that. Even parents are very keen on sending their children to schools,” said Eswari Bhoopalan, Principal of Lady Wellington Government Higher Secondary school in Triplicane. Meanwhile, there are a few schools that will not open on September 1, due to ‘logistic issues’. According to PG Subramanian, Principal of Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram, holding both online and offline classes will prove stressful for teachers.
Meanwhile, the Health Department would check whether college students and professors are vaccinated against Covid-19 as colleges are set to reopen on Wednesday.