After 11 months, schools across Telangana Friday opened to physical classes for students of classes 9 and above
Students of classes 9 and above stood in long queues, in their respective demarcated circles as part of social distancing norms. Hands sanitised and faces covered with masks, the next step was to undergo a temperature check. While this is the new normal in the post-COVID era, behind the masks were anxious faces happy to reunite with friends and teachers in the school. After 11 months, schools across Telangana Friday opened to physical classes for students of classes 9 and above.
At Hyderabad‘s Government High School-Rajbhavan, Kavya, a class 10 student, was elated to be back in school. Though she has been in touch with all her classmates – thanks to WhatsApp, throughout the months of COVID-induced shutdown of schools, she said the feeling of meeting everyone again and sharing the classroom brought some relief and comfort. Kavya and her classmates were promoted to class 10 without an exam in the wake of the pandemic last year.
Sharing her thoughts, she said, “Initially, we were very happy to stay at home. We did not have to write the final exams for class 9 and all of us were promoted. Soon we realized what we were missing.” Months of being indoors, away from friends, took away from them a year of all the fun that they could have otherwise had at school, all her classmates unanimously agreed.
“I was very happy that I was promoted without an exam but the thought of having to attend class 10 board exams this year when we have missed physical classes was haunting. It is difficult to study for class 10 without attending school,” said Shivatmika, another student in the same class.
Others quipped they were anxious about covering the syllabus as well as preparations for final exams. “There is a lot of work to be completed. We are happy to be back in school but scared about the exams that are just months away,” said Anand, another student in the class. As they said they are not scared of coronavirus, all of them also agreed that sitting inside the classroom wearing a mask was not a very comfortable experience.
After the first two hours of school in the morning, principal VAS Karuna Sri was in serious discussion with a couple of teachers about a new timetable to accommodate different subjects as per new norms. Finalising the time table has become the latest challenge. “Earlier, we had three sections each for classes 9 and 10. Now, with the COVID protocol in place, we have doubled the number of sections to ensure social distancing. But we have only 14 teachers for all 12 sections and all of them may not be available all the time,” she said, adding that teachers have to also find time for students who have opted not to attend physical classes.
On Monday, only 66 of the 112 students in class 10 and only 68 of the 136 students in class 9 were present. Of the 1100-odd students in this school, 620 are in classes 6 to 10. “We are hoping more students will turn up in the coming days. Teachers are trying to find out if there is any disconnect between students and the syllabus,” the principal said.
Between September 1, 2020, and January 30, 2021, only about 30 percent of the syllabus was covered, and the school, following guidelines from the state government, has plans to cover another 40 percent more in the next 60-odd working days before SSC exams scheduled to start on May 17.
S Surender, who teaches Physics and Chemistry for classes 9 and 10, said he has planned to revisit the topics virtually taught in the last few months. “I have covered five lessons during the lockdown. In the first 15 days of February, I will revise the topics and then hold a formative assessment test. By April, we will finish four more lessons. Three other lessons are kept aside for project and activities,” said Surender, stating that there is sufficient time in May for a full revision of topics.
The principal added that teachers have been asked to differentiate the topics that required their full attention and support to students from the topics that can be learned by students on their own. “Government has given some relaxations regarding syllabus and teachers are doing their bit of planning to cover the syllabus,” she added.
According to the School Education Department, the first day of school reopening in Telangana recorded an attendance of 45 percent across schools under different managements. Of the 9,59,914 students enrolled in classes 9, 10, intermediate first, and intermediate second years, across these schools, about 4,43,507 were present on day one.
There are 11,976 high schools in Telangana. This includes 4668 schools run by the local bodies and the state government, 6373 private schools, 452 KGBVs, 289 Residential schools, and 194 Model schools. The report shared by the Commissioner and Director of School Education Sri Devasena revealed that only 41 percent of students of class 9 and 54 percent of students of class 10 attended school on February 1. Among intermediate students, only 25 percent and 17 percent attendance were recorded for the first and second years, respectively, on day one.
On Monday, Chitra Ramachandran, the special chief secretary to Government for Education department, asked all district collectors to ensure all preparatory plans namely, sanitation plan, medical plan, logistic plan, and hostel residential plan for reopening schools are fully implemented. Now that the schools have reopened, officers in the School Education department are deputed by the Director of School Education to visit all schools in different districts every week and review the implementation of guidelines.
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