After five months of staying shut, schools across Tamil Nadu reopened on Wednesday for classes 9 to 12. In Chennai, students made a beeline to their school gates, forming neat socially distant queues before making their way to classes — the new system in line with strict COVID-19 SOPs, in the aftermath of the second wave.
Schools like St Bede’s in Santhome deputed staff to ensure that returning students were arranged in spaced outlines before admitting them to classes, line by line. The focus was clear for all to see: no crowding at any cost.
Across the city, other well-known schools like the famous Madras Christian College Matriculation Higher Secondary School and Lady Andal followed suit in admitting students, on their return.
While announcing the reopening of schools from September 1 onwards, the Tamil Nadu Government mandated that only 50 percent of classroom capacity could be used to conduct lessons.
Further, the government also stipulated that all teaching and non-teaching staff be fully vaccinated before classes resume. Most if not all schools complied with these orders, on reopening.
“There are no safety concerns as things stand today since all our teachers have been vaccinated as per the government order,” said Jayanthi Christopher, principal at the BMS Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Shenoy Nagar. The school saw 90 percent of its students return from the COVID-19 break, as they were seated in classrooms of 20 students each.
“I’m really happy to return to school and see my friends again; we missed being here,” said Divyadarshini, a student of Class 12 at BMS Matriculation Higher Secondary School, “After spending a day here, I can vouch for the fact that the classroom environment is better that online classes.”
Her friend, Nagakeerthika, agrees. “It was really nice to see our teachers again, and learn from them in person,” she said, “This beats online learning.”
The government has emphasized on maintaining a strict set of safety regulations for returning students, including compulsory mask-wearing at all times. However, after school hours, several students making their way home were spotted mask-less. In order to emphasize the importance of mask-wearing, several schools in the state have been distributing masks on campus to their students.