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Schools re-open for grades I-V in Gujarat

| Updated: November 22, 2021 20:57

Education minister’s decision hits unprepped schools on a Sunday with only a 24-hour notice

Gujarat Education Minister Jitu Vaghani announcement on re-opening schools for Grades I-V caught most school authorities by surprise, coming in late in the afternoon on Sunday, November 21. 

The minister stated that virtual modes of education will be ongoing and it will not be not mandatory for students to attend physical classes.       

The concession was a relief for most school authorities, who are yet to figure out the modus operandi for these grades to function. 

“We have provided health safety guidelines to all schools. We are planning regular inspections to ensure the standards set for the safety of students are met,” said Hitendra Sinh, DEO of Ahmedabad Urban Schools. 

Only a handful of schools in Ahmedabad had started functioning offline today following COVID-19 safety guidelines. But even with such restrictions, the excitement to attend physical classes was visible on Monday. “Both teachers and students are very excited about physical classes resuming and attending school. The students have come all dressed up in their uniforms,” said Fr Xavier Amalraj SJ, Principal, St Xavier’s High School Loyola Hall.

The St. Xavier’s administration was among the first schools to respond positively to the consent form as soon as it received the notification. Many parents had also responded positively. The school saw 10-15 students per class. 

Father Amalraj said he expects the attendance in offline classes only to increase. “Young kids, especially first and second graders, were very excited to come to school – this was their first time, after all! They are now well-versed in the Covid-19 precautions since we have been living amidst the pandemic for quite a while now,” he said.

“We will be reopening the school for the grades I to V in two days; we are yet to send the consent form back to the state authorities,” said Noopur Desai, principal, S.H. Kharawala, A.G & L.D. Primary School. Children have to be trained to adjust to this mode of school, with the COVID-19 protocol in place, “sooner or later”, she said. 

“We are planning on reopening the school on Thursday. We already have all the precautions in place,” said Chandana Das, principal, (Primary Section), The H. B. Kapadia New High School.

Das said that physical activities will be on hold for a while, until the school figures out a safe way for these young children. The school has just restarted P.E. classes for the higher grades.

Other schools like Udgam, St. Kabir and Maharaja Agrasen are yet to decide on when they would re-open.

Sheetal Solanki, whose ward studies at Amrita Vidyalaya, said she still feels “apprehensive” about sending her daughter to school. “I would prefer her studying online because there is no vaccination available for children,” said Solanki.

Sheetal Solanki with her daughter Kavya

In July, the Supreme Court had ruled that the decision to re-open schools rests with state governments. The Gujarat State Education Board rolled out the circular to re-open schools for Grade VI to Grade VIII from September 2. Prior to that, schools were re-opened for only Grade IX to Grade XII.  

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