Students finally return to school after almost one year
Kohima, Feb. 8 (EMN): There was aura of excitement around educational institutions in Nagaland on Monday as schools reopened for classes 6 to 12, after a gap of almost one year. Students and teachers finally engaged in traditional classroom teaching after schools were closed in March last year to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
Principal Director of School Education, Shanavas C described the first day of school re-opening as a “very happy day”.
He expressed hope that schools will strictly follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Education department, as physical classes resume, to ensure the safety of children, teachers, and even parents at home.
Shanavas said that students could be excited to meet their friends after long time but requested them to follow all safety measures to ensure the safety of everyone.
It may be mentioned that re-opening of school is “voluntary” and no students will be compelled to attend classes. Parents can send their children to schools when they are “ready” and “confident”.
When asked whether parents welcomed the decision to resume physical classes, the principal director of School Education said parents were receptive of the initiative, keeping in view of the importance of education. Parents were not restricting their children from going to school; yet they must ensure that their children wear mask, he added.
He however said that “voluntary attendance” is only for students and not for the teachers. If students don’t come to school, teachers have to find other ways and means to make sure that education reaches them.
Lower classes have to wait
As for resuming of classes for below class 6, the principal director said that they would wait for at least one month and observe whether students are safe and schools are taking precautions. Once the department is confident enough, it will take a call for the lower classes, he added.
‘We are taking a calculated risk to re-open schools for class 6 to 12. If we are all careful enough nothing will happen; normalcy can return to our state even if it is slow,’ he said. But, if proved otherwise, it will be a risk, which in turn might affect the entire state and society including parents and elders at home, he added.
He appealed to all teachers, parents and students to take SOPs seriously until vaccination drive is successfully completed and the world returns to normalcy.
Principal of Mount Sinai Higher Secondary School, PJ Nathan said that the school had prepared for students to return after almost a gap of one year on Monday.
On preparations, he said that they had planned meticulously on how best to cater to the educational needs of the students considering the SOPs issued by the government.
Since the school has good strength in higher classes and higher secondary (Arts stream), students of classes 6 to 10 (the new batch) were divided into two groups. He said that students were allotted classes based on odd and even roll numbers.
Accordingly, one group of each class and section will have classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the other group on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays (three days of class per week for each student).
In a day, there will be five periods for classes 6 to 10 students with a short break after the third period. Classes will get over by 12:30 pm and students have been advised to come with their own lunch boxes and water bottles, Nathan added.
As for the higher secondary students, all the sections of class 11 and 12 have been divided into two groups each; one group of classes 11 and 12 comes in the morning—9 am to 12:30 pm and the other group from 12:15 to 2:45 pm, the principal informed.
Classes start at 9 am but students have to reach the school by 8:30 am for the necessary SOPs; teachers have to assemble students class-wise and section-wise in line with proper social distancing. Classrooms are fumigated and teachers have to sanitise their hands and check temperatures, he added.
The principal said that thermal guns and hand sanitiser are not issues but the time they need to spend for the SOPs because every child’s temperature has to be physically monitored. Generally, following SOP is a challenge keeping in mind the children coming to schools after almost a gap of a year, he added.
As for students, they were excited to come to school in the first place and one could see from the smiles on their faces in the morning meeting. “That excitement should not lead to chaos and therefore it was challenging and it will be challenging for some time. Nevertheless, we will go any mile to make use of the time that is given to us,” Nathan said.
He stated that they had prepared a roster in such a way that all major subjects are given equal importance and all the groups have access to same teaching materials. He also pointed out that physical distancing is still a challenge and will take some time although government has been insisting on it from time to time.
Roshan Rana, Assistant headmaster of Mezhür Higher Secondary School (MHSS), Kohima, maintained that all safety measures were strictly followed on the day of school re-opening. In the morning, students underwent temperature test, passed through disinfectant tunnel, and sanitised their hand before entering the classrooms.
‘For classrooms, we have divided three sections into five sections so there is enough social distancing within them. Students were also encouraged not to share their lunch boxes, water bottles or hang around closely,’ he said.
He said that parents were “eager” about the re-opening of school and that attendance was “extremely good” on the first day, which exhibited parents’ willingness to send their kids back to schools.
To Rana, it was a bit of challenge as classes are being divided into different sections unlike in the past and teachers have to take classes in smaller groups to maintain social distancing. However, he expressed happiness as it was for the benefits of students.
Additional classes for teachers
With classes and sections being divided into smaller groups, teachers are now compelled to increase the number of classes per day. Some of the teachers opened up about how they have to cope with this new challenge.
Noami Sinsong, who teaches English for class 10 at MHSS, said that teachers have to take many classes now but they do not mind because it is for the safety of students. Initially, they have three classes but now they are having six classes in a day.
‘We feel a bit burdened’ but as teachers, ‘we try to manage because we are here to guide and help students,’ she said.
A high school teacher at Mt. Sinai HSS, Viwhekhonuo Vielie, thought students would not be co-operative after the long break but found them to be attentive and more disciplined. She added that the excitement in students showed that they were willing to learn.
Senti Makritsuh, English teacher from classes 8 to 10 at the same institution, said that it has been little challenging after the pandemic as teachers have to be extra vigilant about the students, ensuring that they follow all the SOPs.
Some students shared how they felt about returning to school after a long gap.
Kekhrieser, a class 7 student from Mezhür HSS, said it was “amazing” to be able to come back to school.
Cheryl Losou, a class 6 student from the same school, said returning to school was a great feeling. To her, it was good to talk with friends and play with them (while maintaining social distance). She went on to add that she could now ask doubts from teachers but said maintaining social distancing was ‘not fun’. She however expressed hope hopes that things will get better soon.
Sania, class 10 student at Mt Sinai HSS, said that there are new protocols like maintaining SOPs that students have to follow, though they are not used to it. However, she said students are learning to strictly follow them with time.
She also shared that re-opening of school is good as they can now interact with teachers.