Bengaluru: Private schools in Bengaluru are considering levying an additional ‘Covid fees’ to cover the costs of sanitisation and disinfection necessary once students return to campus from 21 September under Unlock 4.
The Centre Tuesday had announced standard operating procedures for schools to follow, which included deep cleaning of premises that had been used as Covid facilities, sanitisation of other buildings, setting up markers to ensure social distancing, sanitiser stations at entry points, and so on. In the circular, the government also said schools could reopen only for Classes 9 to 12 in a phased manner and on a voluntary basis.
Private school managements in the state, however, say this places a huge responsibility on them to ensure the safety of their students if they choose to return.
For this, the schools added, certain costs will go up since mandatory Covid protocols state schools will have to clean and disinfect the premises every few hours. Furthermore, areas/surfaces that are frequently used by staff and students — such as railings, desks, chairs and equipment — have to be constantly sanitised.
“We plan to use 70 per cent alcohol wipes and good disinfectants to ensure the safety of our students. The housekeeping budget may go up by 5 per cent, but in the long run, only our children will benefit, “ said D. Shashi Kumar, general secretary of Associated Management of English Medium Schools, a private-run body that coordinates management of English-medium primary and secondary unaided schools in Karnataka.
Some schools said that charging the additional ‘Covid fees’ from parents will make them aware of the school’s exhaustive plans to keep children safe.
“It is a genuine expenditure, as housekeeping is going to escalate. We would need thermal scanners, disinfectants and necessary infrastructure,” Kumar said.
ThePrint reached Karnataka Education Minister Suresh Kumar via calls and text messages for a comment but did not receive a response until the time of publishing this report.
Schools to get parents on board
In the past few months, schools complained that fees of many students had not been paid for the current academic year. This could make collecting an additional fee a problem.
Due to the nationwide lockdown, several parents faced salary cuts or lost their jobs, resulting in the fee default.
School managements plan to discuss the proposed ‘Covid fees’ with parents to get them on board with the idea.
“Opening of schools is a big concern and we have to ensure absolute safety. We are in talks with agencies to ensure safety protocols, but we believe the schools should have direct control over maintenance. The costs are going to go up, but we are in talks with parents to get them on board,” said Mansoor Ali Khan, member of the management board, Delhi Public School, Bengaluru.
Despite the central government’s directions, some parents are still wary about sending their children to school.
Manasi Purohit, a 41-year-old mother of a Class 9 student, said that even though the Centre announced that schools could re-open, the safety concern remains.
“I would rather wait for the vaccine to be available before letting my son attend school,” said Purohit.
In the past 24 hours, India has recorded 95,735 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total tally in the country to more than 44 lakh cases.