Treading with caution

Uneasy calm prevails at school complexes in Kurnool and Anantapur districts with teachers and students attending classes for half a day amid virus fear

Anantapur-based Netaji Higher Secondary School principal D.B.S. Prakasha Rao was overseeing the arrangements for the conduct of classes for ninth and 10th standard students in both English and Telugu media adhering to all COVID-19 protocols, that too at a time when he is emotionally grappling with the loss of his elder brother a couple of days ago after battling with coronavirus for 84 days in a hospital.

An uneasy calm prevails at all school complexes in Kurnool and Anantapur districts with teachers and students attending classes for half a day amid the fear of getting infected with the virus and the recent experiences of people suffering from the disease in their houses or neighbourhoods is weighing down on their normal behaviour.

Thin attendance

Attendance among students has not crossed 40% on an average with Class 10 students coming in larger numbers daily compared to just 30% of Class 9 children making it to the classroom on alternate days from November 2. Six of the municipal schools in Anantapur were closed for a week again from November 5 to accommodate candidates of the Andhra Pradesh Diploma in Elementary Education Course first year batch year-end examinations that were rescheduled from August to November.

Another major factor for lower attendance is the absence of hostellers, as 20-25% of the children stay either in Social Welfare hostels or other government-run and private accommodations, which have not been permitted to open.

Villagers circumspect

Most of the municipal schools in Anantapur have students coming from neighbouring villages โ€“ travelling 10-15 km by bus or a common autorickshaw โ€“ and parents are disinclined to allow their wards to travel such long distances for fear of getting exposed to the virus and in turn spreading it in their villages, which have been relatively less affected (in absolute COVID positive numbers) compared to urban areas.

As of Thursday evening, out of the 56,453 students in the zilla parishad and government schools, 1,212 students took the test and 18 tested positive for COVID-19 and out of 16,736 teachers 14,424 were tested and 59 turned positive. In some schools, the Nadu-Nedu infrastructure improvement works are going on, affecting the smooth running of classes.


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