Even as confusion prevailed outside the premises of Padma Sesahadri Bala Bhavan in K.K. Nagar, on Saturday morning, over a parent-teacher meeting, many said they had come hoping that the school would tell them exactly what transpired on Thursday.
Several parents voiced concerns about the swimming session. While some parents said they had been keen that their children learn swimming, until the accident involving M. Ranjan, many others said they had voiced concerns about the class right from the start.
A parent of a class four student said her child was afraid of swimming, and attended the classes reluctantly. Students are initiated into swimming at the end of class II, and it is compulsory until class VII. “I put him in a private swimming class, where I tag along, so he would learn to swim and not fret about it in school. A year ago, a few parents had appealed to the principal asking for better trainers, and she gave us a patient hearing. But nothing has changed,” she said.
One parent said he would not want the school to discontinue swimming classes, instead they must step up safety measures and employ better trainers. “Many students have not overcome fear of water despite attending classes for over a year. I do not know for how long it is acceptable to push a reluctant child into the water,” he said.
Parents said students were exempted from swimming only on medical grounds. The module should be made optional, many parents said. A student of class four said while he enjoyed swimming, many of his classmates continued to stand on the edge of the pool.
Another parent of a class IV student said there should ideally be one trainer for two students, and in the case of beginners, parents must be allowed to accompany the child. Many parents said they had little knowledge of the safety measures in place.
“Until now, we placed complete faith in the school because they had been running a swimming class for so many years, and nothing untoward had happened,” a parent said. He did not take it seriously when his son expressed fears about swimming because he felt every child went through that phase, the parent said.
Some parents, however, brushed off Thursday’s accident as a one-off incident, and said they wouldn’t mind if swimming classes resumed. The police have, so far, questioned Indira Vaidyanathan, principal of the school, and Usha Srinivasan, the class teacher. They have also made enquiries with Ranjan’s parents and his uncle.