Ensure social distancing, DPI tells govt. schools


With government schools in all districts barring Bengaluru set to resume classes for students from Classes 6 to 8 from Monday, finding space to ensure that social distancing norms are being followed has become a priority. Heads of government schools have been instructed to use libraries, staff rooms, laboratories and auditoriums as classrooms.

Shortage of classrooms has always been a problem in government schools, where often students of different grades sit in the same room. However, officials admitted that this practice will have to be discontinued in the wake of COVID-10.

Many schools are refurbishing their classrooms by dipping into their existing funds and mobilising funds through the School Development Monitoring Committee. According to DPI’s data for the 2018-2019 academic year, there are as many as 2.08 lakh classrooms in 43,492 government primary schools. Of these, 65% of the classrooms are in good condition. Meanwhile, in as many as 4,696 government high schools, only 49% of the total 23,318 classrooms are in good condition. According to the department’s data, besides the regular classrooms, there are 8,163 rooms that are available in the school campuses.

V. Anbu Jumar, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said he had instructed district level officers at a video conference last week to ask school headmasters to utilise all spaces on school campuses. “We will also send senior officials of our departments to inspect schools and to ensure that they are following all the SOPs,” he said.

H.K. Manjunath, president, Karnataka State High School Assistant Masters’ Association, said that in addition to the areas listed by the department, headmasters are considering using corridors of schools and open spaces within the compound walls in rural areas. “In schools where the student strength is high, teachers are planning to write to department officials to allow them to conduct classes in batches. Some government schools have more than 60 students per section and it is impossible to find space. Schools want to run classes in batches once upper primary sections open. But by doing so, the working hours of teachers will be stretched, so we request the department to depute lower primary teachers to work in upper primary classes for the time being,” he said.

Sulochana S., a domestic worker whose daughter studies in a government high school in North Bengaluru said, “The government should use the pandemic as an opportunity to improve infrastructure in our schools. It should ensure that student strength in each classroom remains below 30 even after the pandemic so that all of us can get individual attention.”

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