After staying at home for more than nine months, students on Monday got back to schools and colleges in Gujarat that recorded thin attendance.
As per the data recorded by the state education department and accessed by The Indian Express, the state recorded an overall attendance of 35 per cent for Class 10, while it was 38 per cent for Class 12.
“This will change over the coming days as a few schools did not upload their attendance on Monday,” said a senior education official.
According to Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, “Across the state, schools recorded an attendance of 35-40 per cent, while colleges and higher education institutes recorded 40-50 per cent attendance. The figures are encouraging after a huge break of nine months, as usually on the first day after Diwali or summer vacations, the attendance would be similar. We are exepecting the numbers to increase after Uttarayan.”
“Attendance was low in colleges as examinations are going on in most of the universities, including the Gujarat University (GU) and Gujarat Technological University (GTU). Where there were no exams, the attendance was nearly 40-50 per cent. Picture will be clearer by next week,” said Anju Sharma, Principal Secretary Education.
Not compromising on standard operating procedures (SOPs), a few students who reached Government Secondary and Higher Secondary School in Makhtampura, Juhapura, without consent letter were sent back by the teachers.
“My parents are out of station and I could not get the consent letter signed,” said Sanya Chauhan, Class 10 student of the school. She was sent home to get the letter signed by her elder siblings.
“We have been instructed not to allow any student without the consent letter… we have already communicated the same on WhatsApp groups,” school principal Nirmalaben Parmar told The Indian Express.
On the arrangements made, the principal said that the school was sanitised by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) on Sunday.
Sanya returned with the signed form soon and was led to her class by Nirmalaben and her class teacher, Vinod Magarwadia. With a seating arrangement of 20 in a classroom against the normal strength of 60, the school staff ensured social distancing and other SOPs. Posters with instructions were placed across the school, which is also a designated Covid vaccination centre.
The school reported an attendance of 15 per cent where 27 students in Class 10 and 18 in Class 12 attended school on the first day. “We were expecting at least 30-40 per cent per cent students to attend the school. But even this is not bad,” Nirmalaben said.
“With 23,631 students out of 79,470 total students for Class 10 and 12 enrolled in 690 schools in the district area, the attendance was 29.73 per cent. To check the arrangements, a team of 150 visited more than five to six schools each. The feedback received is very positive,” said district education officer (DEO) Ahmedabad rural, Rakesh Vyas.
Teachers who conducted a survey among parents last week reported queries from parents on reopening of schools. “Most of the parents who are daily wage labourers wanted schools to be reopened. Since everyone could not afford a smartphone to attend online classes, even students were eager to return to school,” Neha Shah, a higher secondary teacher, told The Indian Express.
At Delhi Public School (DPS) in Bopal area of Ahmedabad, 20 students reported on the first day. The school, affiliated to CBSE, resumed only Class 12 science and commerce streams for which the school has strength of 350 students. The school will resume Class 10 from January 18.
The school had elaborate arrangements, including portable machines for fumigation, a medical room, social distance markings everywhere, including the playground.
“Majority of the parents wanted school to resume from February 1, while many agreed on January 18,” DPS Bopal principal, Surender P Sachdeva, told this paper.
Adding that there is excitement among students, while parents are apprehensive, he said, “Parents are not sure but children are insisting that they sign the consent letter to attend classes.”
“This being my last year in school, I did not want to miss a single day after the state government allowed schools to reopen. We missed the campus and classes. I am happy to be back in school with my teachers,” Kashvi Shah, a Class 12 student.
The school also plans to start the school bus service from January 18, initially with 15 buses.
In Surat, schools recorded 40 per cent attendance on first day. Surat District Education officer HH Rajyaguru said, “We got good response from teachers, students and parents. The attendance was 40 per cent and we hope it will go up after the Uttarayan festival. We have made six teams to carry out surprise checks in at least 40 schools every day to ensure the SOPs are followed.”
At Vanita Vishram School, authorities had made seating arrangements on the ground where open classes were held for language and social science. For Maths and Science subjects, they were allowed inside the classroom.
Anisha Mahida, principal of Vanita Vishram School, said, “We had 70 per cent of Class 10 and 12 students of both Commerce and Science stream attending classes today. Not only the students but teachers were also happy to see the students after such a long period. There are 750 students in Class 10 and 224 students in Class 12. From Tuesday, we are hoping 100 per cent attendance. Several parents who came to check the arrangements were satisfied.”
Dipak Rajyaguru, president of self-finance schools association in Surat, said, “We all happy with schools reopening. Students were made to sit maintaining social distancing, while during interval, we kept an eye on them. We are hoping to see 100 per cent attendance soon. We have got consent from 90 per cent parents to send their children to schools.”
The districts with highest attendance in Class 12 included Bharuch with 56 per cent followed by Botad with 55 per cent, Bhavnagar 53 per cent, and Dangs and Navsari with 52 per cent each.
Ahmedabad reported over 29 per cent attendance on the first day in 690 schools — 49 government, 250 grant-in-aid and remaining majority self-financed schools — in the district.
Districts that reported the highest Class 10 attendance were Bharuch with 49 per cent and Navsari 48 per cent followed by Sabarkantha 47 per cent and Tapi 45 per cent.
Minimum attendance for Class 12 was recorded in Ahmedabad and Junagadh with 24 per cent followed by Dahod with 28 per cent. Dahod, Chhota Udepur and Dangs reported the lowest Class 10 attendance in the state with 22, 25 and 26 per cent, respectively.