After a gap of almost two years, West Bengal has decided to fully reopen schools from Wednesday following an improvement in the COVID-19 situation.
Schools had reopened earlier this month but only students of Classes 8 and upwards were allowed into the premises; those in junior classes were to be taught in the open under the ‘Paray Shikshalay’ programme.
“Government of West Bengal has decided to re-open schools on campus for the students of all classes of primary and upper primary schools, including SSKs/MSKs (Shishu Shiksha Kendra and Madhyamik Shiksha Kendras), with effect from February 16, maintaining all COVID-19 norms and protocols,” a government order issued on Monday said. The order was accompanied by a set of guidelines issued by the Department of School Education on the reopening.
The order instructed heads of institutions to ensure sanitisation of schools by Tuesday and also asked all teaching and non-teaching staff to report for work on campus. “Hostels may be reopened wherever necessary as decided by the concerned head of institution, strictly maintaining safety and COVID norms. Cooked mid-day meal to be served to all students attending the classes. Consequently upon opening of the schools of all classes, ‘Paray Shikshalay’ will be discontinued w.e.f. February 16,” the order said.
‘Paray Shikshalay, under which students from Classes 1 to 7 were to be taught in the open as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, was turning out to be a headache for heads of institutions as many had difficulties finding an open space and in getting their teachers shuttle between schools and the outdoor venues. Parents, too, did not like the idea of their children stepping out of the safety of the school premises.
“We, as teachers, are glad that classes are going to resume for the younger ones. This was what we were all waiting for. Though ‘Paray Shikshalay’ was a novel concept, it is always good to get back the children in schools, where they have a more familiar environment and ambience. With proper safety measures in place, we hope that schools will now operate with the same fervour as they did before corona struck the planet. Happy times are here again!” said Krishnakoli Ray, headmistress of Dhakuria Sree Ramakrishna Vidyapith for Girls in Kolkata.