COVID fear, incessant rain hit attendance in Assam schools

GUWAHATI: Attendance in Assam’s schools and colleges, which reopened after six months for high and higher secondary students on Monday, has been low.

If the pandemic fear made guardians reluctant to send their wards to the institutions on the first day of resumption of classes on Monday, the situation on Tuesday turned even worse with moderate but incessant rain since early morning preventing many students from stepping out of their homes.

The Assam government had last week released standard operating procedures for 15 days, and in accordance with the staggered schedules, each of the four grades (classes 9 to 12) are to have three classes per week.

Classes for grades 9 and 12 have been scheduled on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while those for standards 10 and 11 are listed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

“Yesterday, about 30 per cent from classes 9 and 12 had attended classes while some who were without the mandatory consent letters were sent back. The attendance today is even thinner, with a total of 32 students from grades 10 and 11 present in the classes,” Sozimuddin Ahmed, principal of PR Government HS and MP school, in Goalpara, told The Shillong Times.

“Apart from the COVID-triggered indecision, incessant rain since early morning has prevented many students from attending classes. However, we believe things will improve next week once we adapt to the new normal. As it is, we have all precautionary measures, from thermal scanners, sanitisers to pulse oximeters, in place,” Ahmed said.

Nearly all the private schools here, however, remained shut even as the government had asked them to take a call on their own in regard to resumption of classes.

As it is, more or less, all students from the primary to high school levels in private schools of the city are attending online classes for about five to six days a week.

The state education department had also stated that the online classes will continue along with offline classes for classes 9 to 12.

South Point School at Barsapara here was one among the few private institutions resuming offline classes from Monday.

“Attendance has been poor, hardly about 10 per cent, for all the four grades in the two days so far. However, as confidence grows among guardians and students regarding the COVID safety measures taken up by school authorities, we believe more students will attend classes,” K Chanda, principal of South Point School, said.

Meanwhile, the scene at Ulubari Higher Secondary School in the heart of the city on Tuesday morning was abysmal with incessant rain flooding the entire premises and preventing authorities from holding any classes.

“Teachers were present but classes could not be held. A few students who had come in the morning had to return after being unable to enter the waterlogged premises,” said an employee of the school.

It may be mentioned that students from economically disadvantaged sections have not had proper access to online classes over the past five to six months as not all families have Internet connections or smartphones to facilitate such sessions.

“Yes, the resumption of offline classes has been a big relief for those who were not able to attend online classes. Most students who do not have access to the Internet or smartphones have been unable to clear their doubts. Besides, broadband connectivity in most rural areas too is by and large poor,” said a parent here.

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