High schools in Andhra Pradesh finally reopened for classes after a gap seven months. While nearly all government schools were reopened across the state, except Visakhapatnam district, less than 50 % attendance was recorded by students on Monday. Schools have reopened only for students of classes 9 and 10, along with junior colleges (classes 11 and 12), colleges and higher education institutions.
Nearly 98.84 % of the high schools were opened in the state, with 87.78 % of teachers attending school, according to a press statement issued by state Minister for Education Adimulapu Suresh. The attendance among class 9 students was 39.62 % overall, across 13 districts, while the number was slightly higher among class 10 students (43.65 % of Class X students).
Most private schools have also resumed face-to-face instruction for students of classes 9 and 10, according to president of Andhra Pradesh Private Unaided Schools’ Managements’ Association (APPUSMA) M V Ramachandra Reddy. “Earlier, when the government planned to reopen schools in September, we had asked the government to reconsider the decision as parents were not keen on sending their children to school. Even today, most schools are seeing student attendance of 20 % to 30 %,” he said.
Ramachandra Reddy, who is the director of Saibaba school in Kadapa, said that teachers are dividing their work between conducting online classes for most students and teaching at school for the rest. According to Unlock 5 guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, students can only attend schools or colleges with the written consent of parents. Remote learning provisions have to be continued for students who choose to learn from home.
In Andhra Pradesh, schools and junior colleges have been partially reopened for students of class 9, 10 and intermediate, so they can meet teachers and have any doubts cleared. Since then, a few instances of COVID-19 infections among students have surfaced.
On Monday, according to the Education Minister’s press note, most districts did not register any “untoward incidents”. However, in Nellore district, a watchman of AP Model School in Nandavaram village of Marripadu mandal tested positive for COVID-19. In the same district, two students of the Zilla Parishad High School in Pathavellanti also tested positive for COVID-19.
While nearly 100 % schools have been opened in most districts in Visakhapatnam, around 86 % of the high schools in Visakhapatnam were reopened. Reports from tribal areas of the district are awaited, the press statement said.
Visuals from many schools across the state showed students being asked to maintain safe distance from each other, and masks have been made compulsory along with frequent use of sanitiser.
For now, students of class 9 and 10 will have half-day school, on alternate days. After reviewing the situation in 3 weeks, depending on the situation, Classes 6, 7 and 8 would begin on November 23 on a half-day basis. Classes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 would start from December 14.
Freshly cooked mid-day meals have also been made available once again, starting from Monday. With schools being shut, students had been receiving dry ration in place of mid-day meals over the past few months.
As a part of the Jagananna Vidya Kanuka kits given to school students earlier in October, along with text books, school uniform and school bags, students also received 3 masks each.
“To make up for lost academic time, we have shortened the syllabus and number of working days. With a plan of completing this academic year by April-May, we are reopening schools today,” Minister Adimulapu Suresh said.
Watch: Schools and colleges reopen in Andhra Pradesh with COVID-19 precautions