JAIPUR: Schools in Rajasthan opened for classes 9 to 12 on Monday, 10 months after they were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only a handful of students returning to classes.
Students were given a warm welcome at schools, which were sanitised on Sunday, and teachers ensured they wore masks and maintained social distancing.
Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra along with various officers visited schools in Sikar and Jaipur to check compliance of government guidelines.
The state government has allowed schools to reopen with 50 per cent occupancy permitted in each classroom and students attending classes with the consent of their parents.
"The turnout of students was quite low today, particularly in classes 10 and 12. Hopefully, it will increase over the next few days. Parents are in a wait-and-watch mode before allowing their wards to attend regular classes," said Sanjay Parashar, the spokesperson of Subodh Public School here.
"Fifty per cent strength is allowed at a time in a class and all arrangements have been made to ensure compliance of social distancing, sanitisation, etc. Students were allowed to return only after getting written consent from their parents," he said.
Parashar said though schools have opened, online classes are also being held regularly which is another reason why not many students turned up.
Besides, the syllabus of classes 10 and 12 has already been completed and pre-board exams are going to be held in the next few days, he said.
"Since the syllabus has been completed, many students of classes 10 and 12 came to clear their doubts. The turnout of students of classes 9 and 11 was higher as compared to those of classes 10 and 12," he added.
B L Sharma, principal of Yash Public School in Sodala area here, said nearly 30 per cent turnout was recorded on the first day.
Other schools also recorded a similar turnout.
The manager of another school here said, "The school has been sanitised and all other arrangements made as per the government guidelines but it will take a few more days for the situation to normalise."
Speaking to reporters here, Dostara said two teachers of a government school in Sikar were put under awaiting posting orders (APO) after they were found violating the government guidelines.
The minister said when he reached the school in Bawdi, the two teachers were seen sitting on chairs and basking in the sun instead of taking classes.
They did not even pay attention to his arrival.
"They violated social distancing norms and were without masks so they were put under APO status," Dostara said.
"When we went to the principal's room, it was surprising to see that there was a permanent arrangement for making tea. It was 11.30 am and tea was being prepared for 20-30 people. A show-cause notice was issued to the principal," he said.
Coaching institutes across the state also opened on Monday.
The Rajasthan government had on January 5 announced the decision to open schools for classes 9 to 12 and coaching institutes, which were closed on March 21 last year to check the spread of COVID-19.
According to a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the government, wearing face masks, social distancing, sanitisation and thermal scanning, etc. must be ensured in all schools.
Students of coaching institutes coming from other states will have to get themselves tested for COVID-19 a day before joining classes, according to the SOP.
All coaching institutes will have to send details of their students to the nodal officer appointed by the district collector, the SOP stated.