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Schools opened but parents hesitant to give NOC, attendance in Silchar remains low

Following the government’s directive, the schools in Silchar have opened for classroom education on September 21. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has made it clear that the parents need to furnish their consent that they are willingly sending their children to the school.

At the same time, education institutions have been asked to not put pressure on parents for the non-objection certificates. Since the outbreak of Coronavirus induced pandemic in early March, the schools have remained shut. Some institutions used digital platforms to educate and prepare the children while few kept waiting for the government’s permission to open them again.

“First day we got no NOCs. On the second day, we got one NOC,” informs Mandira Dasgupta, Principal of Collegiate school. “We have prepared a format and have sent it to all the parents. Those who want to willingly send their children to school need to sign that letter of consent. The response we have got so far indicates that there is a lot of apprehension among parents,” Dasgupta adds.

She made it clear that Collegiate school is in no hurry to resume classroom education. “We are continuing with the online mode of education and will start classroom lectures once we get a sizeable attendance,” she adds.

Narsing Higher Secondary school has, however, stopped online education for the time being. “The teachers are reporting to school and we have started with classroom lectures. We cannot do both at the same time,” says Ratan Paul, Principal of Narsing School.

He adds, “The response, so far has been below expectation. The attendance remains lower than what we thought it would be. It is time we understand that the students need to step out and go back to the schools. Their mental peace is at stake. Staying at home throughout, they will get frustrated which will have a long-term impact.”

The principal informed that the classrooms and benches are frequently sanitised by the authority and the school has issued a set of protocols that the students need to follow. “We are accommodating 20 students in a classroom that has 20 benches. Maintaining distance, we can accommodate up to two students per bench. There are sanitisers and soaps in the school and the teachers educate the students about the protocols. They have been instructed to not share food or shake hands.”

Principal Ratan Paul shares that he has informed the joint director of health that they can conduct random tests whenever they feel. “We know prevention is better than cure and we have taken all necessary precautions so that the parents feel safe to send their children to school,” adds Paul.

Attendance has remained low in schools located in rural areas too. Jogendra Chandra Das, Assistant Headmaster of K.B.J.R Memorial High School shares that on the first day two students went to the school and the number rose to 15. “We had kept classes in two shifts, but since only 15 students reached, the second shift had to be canceled,” informs Das.

“The initial trend indicates that it would take time for us to get students back to the schools. The parents are not refusing to provide NOC but there is a lack of understanding in the rural areas. 30 per cent teachers will be on duty and therefore, we have chalked out the routine keeping that in mind,” Das adds.

In the school, the students are taught how to wash their hands with soaps and educated about the usage of sanitisers too, Das adds.

Overall, urban or rural, attendance remains low and parents’ apprehension stays high. Classroom education looks still some time away as fear prevails.

Jnanendra Das contributed to the story with inputs. 

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