The students belonged to classes 9 and 10, and were from four private schools.

Students in uniform having their hands sanitised before entering a schoolImage for representation/PTI
news Coronavirus Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 15:01

At least 27 students attending private schools in Andhra’s Kurnool district have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The students belonging to classes 9 and 10  were from four different private schools in Sunnipenta of Srisailam mandal, and the District Collector has issued orders to shut down all four schools for ten days and to sanitise the surroundings. While schools are yet to reopen in the state, schools and junior colleges have been partially reopened for students of class 9, 10 and intermediate (class 11 and 12) from September 21. 

With the state gearing up to reopen schools for all classes from November 2, Kurnool District Education Officer (DEO) Sairam said that the district administration is willing to withdraw recognition for private schools where any deviations from stipulated COVID-19 protocol are reported. “Special care will be taken towards private schools, as all the cases (reported on Tuesday) are from private schools,” the DEO said. 

“Preliminary reports suggest that due to mobility of children through autos, they were infected.

All 4 schools where cases were registered will be closed (for ten days), and all teachers and students who attended the school will undergo COVID-19 tests. The students have been isolated and are undergoing treatment,” the DEO said. He said that nearly 25,000 to 30,000 high school and junior college students are attending schools in the districts with parental consent. 

The students who tested positive for the virus were attending DAV, Balasubramanyam, Wisdom and Srisailam Mata schools, according to Deccan Chronicle. While schools are yet to reopen in the state, schools and junior colleges have been partially reopened for students of class 9, 10 and intermediate (class 11 and 12) from September 21. 

The reopening of schools has been postponed by the government multiple times, with COVID-19 infections continuing to increase. However, on Tuesday, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy reiterated that schools would reopen on November 2. Speaking about the standard operating protocol (SOP) to be followed in schools, Jagan said that classes will be held on alternate days for students. 

While students of classes 1,3,5,7 will attend school on one day, students of classes 2, 4, 6, 8 will attend on the next day. “If the school has a strength of more than 750, classes will be held once in three days,” Jagan said, adding that schools will only have a morning shift, and students will be served mid-day meals. 

This will be the temporary protocol to be followed for the month of November, and depending on the situation, the protocol may be changed from December. 

Students will be asked to attend classes only with parents’ consent, and online classes will be conducted for those who are not willing to attend the school.

Similar guidelines had been issued for the secondary grade students who are currently attending schools to have their doubts clarified with teachers. Schools were asked to provide sanitisers and ensure use of masks. However, multiple instances of students testing positive for coronavirus have surfaced recently. 

Earlier in October, around 27 students of classes 9 and 10, who had been attending government schools in Vizianagaram district, tested positive for the virus. In another instance, around 13 children attending the same tuition classes tested positive for the virus in Guntur district

Commenting on the Guntur incident, state Education Minister Adimulapu Suresh told TV 9 in an interview that while it was unfortunate, teachers must ensure protocol like maintaining distance of 3 feet between students, and use of masks and sanitiser. As part of the school kits given to students under the Jagananna Vidya Kanuka (Jagananna Education Gift) scheme recently, three masks per student have already been distributed, the Minister said. 

“The SOP is being prepared, on placement of benches and protocol to be followed during mid-day meal time,” he said, adding that the syllabus will also need to be cut down to make up for the lost academic period. 

Read: No morning assembly, classes in shifts: What AP schools may look like when they reopen