THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government plans to conduct special counselling sessions at the school level for parents and students to allay fears regarding the reopening of schools amid the pandemic.
The sessions planned in association with the health department will be held before November 1, the date announced for reopening of schools.
In addition, the government will also initiate an awareness campaign online to assure parents and students that classes will be conducted in a safe and secure environment, strictly adhering to the Covid protocol.
General Education Minister V Sivankutty said on Sunday that a comprehensive action plan for reopening schools will be prepared by the department. He said online classes will be held in parallel to offline classes even after the reopening of schools.
General education secretary Mohammed Hanish said the counselling sessions will be part of the comprehensive action plan.
“The government is giving top priority to the safety of students. As the first step, we will conduct counselling sessions at schools online. The concerns of parents and teachers will be addressed,” Hanish told TNIE.
Reopening decision evokes mixed response from students and parents
“Besides, we also plan to hold an awareness campaign for students and teachers. All safety precautions, including strict compliance with Covid protocol, will be ensured. The vaccination of the schoolteachers is nearing completion. A meeting will be held on Thursday with all stakeholders to ensure that the reopening of schools will be done smoothly,” said Hanish.
The seating arrangements inside the classrooms will be changed to make sure that proper distance between students is maintained.
“Students may tend to huddle together. So, we will also ensure that the social distancing norms are maintained properly,” Hanish said.
Suggestions in front of the education department include alternate day working pattern with 50% attendance and two shift per day with 50% attendance.
The government will also exempt students with comorbidities from attending the classes.
Random testing camps in schools to check Covid spread is also part of the plan, it is learnt.
Meanwhile, the state government’s decision to reopen the schools has evoked mixed response from parents and students.
Though a majority of students expressed happiness, some students and parents raised apprehensions.
“Children, especially in the age group of six to 10 have the tendency to play and sit together in classrooms and on school premises. The teachers or caretakers cannot attend to each and every student of a class. So, there could be a chance of super spread,” said G Jayakumar, a parent.
Some others believe reopening of schools will help put an end to the digital divide which is driving students belonging to the weaker section away from proper learning.
“I am happy that I can finally meet my friends and classmates. For the past one-and-ahalf years, I could not see most of my classmates. Though we communicate through digital platforms, the physical presence and communication will make a difference,” said P Anikha, a class XII student of a private school in the capital.
Doctors okay, if...
Doctors also support reopening of schools, provided necessary precautions are taken.
“It is known from studies and analyses that even if third wave comes, children will not be seriously affected. So, there need not be any apprehension in reopening schools. But we should adhere to Covid protocol strictly. Wearing masks, using sanitiser and following social distancing need to be a habit of students,” said Indian Medical Association Kerala chapter secretary Dr P Gopikumar.