Schools in Kerala reopened on Monday, November 1, after remaining closed for 20 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown. One million of the 4.2 million students in Kerala reportedly returned to the classrooms on Monday. Attending offline classes is not compulsory. Schools have been directed to strictly follow the bio-bubble model (sanitise, safe and secure environment) besides other COVID-19 protocols.
Kerala Education Minister V Sivankutty inaugurated the state-level inauguration of a 'back to school' programme at the Cotton School Girl's School in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. Similar inaugurations were seen in the other 13 districts of the state as well, while some schools held their own functions to welcome students. In a Kozhikode district school, a robot welcomed every student with a sanitiser and a balloon
Minister Sivankutty said since the COVID-19 threat is not fully over, all mandatory protocols have to be strictly complied with. "For around two weeks, it will be a readjustment to the school and classrooms. We will be observing how things are and have regular meetings to discuss and debate on how the situation can be improved, even while caution is maintained. For the time being everything will be under a close watch," he said.
Across the state, there was one common factor â€” school students were happy to be back. "We had started to get bored of the online mode of study so are happy to be back, though our smiles hidden behind the masks. Now we wait for the classrooms to be full, as, at the moment, it's only half or less than that," said a group of students in the capital city.
State Agriculture Minister P Prasad, who came to drop her daughter at a state-run school in Thiruvananthapuram, said, â€œI'm here as a parent of my daughter Aruna of Class 5. We all are happy that the children are back. The government has ensured that things are in place as the schools reopen after the long break."
A teacher in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala said she could not wait to get back to the classroom and be with her students. "It's probably the first time that we are having a celebration like this, as Monday also marks Kerala's 65th birthday. All of us are really excited and happy to be back," she said.
Popular comedian and character actor Jagdeesh said that his granddaughter is attending her class in the state capital. "We have come to know that of the 25 students in her class, only nine parents have given their consent for physical classes."
For the time being, in many schools, students of each class have been divided into different bio-bubble groups and each group will have to come to school either twice or thrice a week.
Even though it is mandatory for all teachers and non-teaching staff to be vaccinated, according to the latest figures, as many as 2,282 teachers in the state are yet to get vaccinated.
However, while most of the schools have reopened, 25 schools in the Kuttanad area in the Alappuzha district could not, owing to heavy rain. "We were all ready to return, but then our teacher called up asking us to wait as all the classes are submerged. We are sad," said a student who is impatient to return to school.
Meanwhile, the tailoring shops witnessed a heavy rush with students and parents walking in to either get new uniforms stitched or get the old ones altered.