Relief for students, parents still wary as Odisha schools reopen

Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said attendance is expected to rise as parents want their wards to continue classes in offline mode
Students maintain social distance as schools reopen at Jagatsinghpur | Express
Students maintain social distance as schools reopen at Jagatsinghpur | Express

It was a mixed feeling for both students and parents as schools across the State reopened on Monday after remaining closed for over three months due to the second Covid wave.

Donning neat uniforms and masks, students entered the classrooms in strict adherence to Covid safety protocols as the joy of meeting friends after such a long hiatus was writ large on their faces. In many schools in Balangir and Ganjam, students were greeted by staff with flowers.

In tribal-dominated Koraput district, over 35 per cent students attended physical classes on the first day. Of the total 310 secondary schools across 14 blocks and four ULBs in the district, 290 opened on the day. 
The authorities had put in place a standard operating procedure (SOP) before the reopening schools. The students were made to undergo thermal screening, hand sanitisation besides keeping physical distance prior to their entry into classrooms. Only 20 students were allowed to sit in a classroom in adherence to the social distancing norm. 

Subhasree Padhi, a Class X student of Jeypore girls’ high school, was genuinely happy to be in the classroom. “As the authorities have put in place proper safety arrangements, we are not worried about Covid-19 transmission on the campus.”

Her mother Manasi was a bit apprehensive but was glad that classroom teaching has resumed. Many parents echoed similar sentiments. Government schools in Sambalpur witnessed a thin attendance. On the first day, GM Junior College resumed classes with around 30 per cent students. The Women’s College also resumed classes with only 40 per cent students on the first day. 

However, private schools in the district are yet to resume classes. Sources said the private school authorities are waiting till discussions are held with parents on the issue.  In Jajpur, around 34 per cent Class X students turned up to attend classes in schools across the district. Of the total 36,692 students enrolled in Class X in the district this year, 11,719 attended school on the first day. Jajpur has 487 high schools in 10 blocks and two urban local bodies. 

Rudra Narayan Debata, a Class X student of Odanga high school was clear in his feelings: “We were attending online classes but classroom teaching is altogether a different experience and cannot be compensated.” 

However in Malkangiri, the turnout on the first day was a meagre 21 per cent. Of the total 5,313 Class X students in 111 high schools, only 1,117 students attended classes. Similarly, attendance of Class XII students in 16 higher secondary schools was very thin. Students were seen attending classes wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. 

Additional Director of OSEPA Kalpana Hembrum visited the schools in Motu, MV-88, MV-81, MV-79, MPV-6 and Kalimela to ensure that the Covid safety protocols are strictly followed.

In Jagatsinghpur, 52 per cent of the total 12,848 Class X students attended classes in 263 high schools. Angul saw 38 per cent of the total 17,000 Class X students turning up for classes. However in Balangir, over 80 per cent students attended classes on the day. In Sundargarh, the attendance of Class X students in different schools varied from 30 per cent to 62 per cent. The attendance of Class XII students in some junior colleges was as low as 14 per cent. 

In Bhubaneswar, students reached at least 30 minutes before opening of school gates and were prevented from crowding. Students and staff who entered the campuses also underwent thermal screening. 

School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash said taking safety of students into consideration, State government has kept the provision of online classes open for all. Besides, schools have also been asked to encourage online learning, Dash said. 

He, however, said the attendance is expected to increase over a weeks’ period as a large number of parents want their students to continue classes in offline mode. 

First day attendance

The average turnout of students for Class X and XII in State remained around 45 to 50 per cent (pc)

  • 35 pc students attended physical classes in Koraput
  • In Jagatsinghpur, 52 pc of total 12,848 Class X students attended classes in 263 schools
  • 52 pc attendance in Cuttack where 481 high schools reopened
  • 38 pc of total 17,000 students turned up for classes in Angul
  • 80 pc students turnout in Balangir

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The New Indian Express