Representational image. | A school in New Delhi. | Photo: ANI
Representational image. | A school in New Delhi. | Photo: ANI
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New Delhi: A week after schools reopened in the national capital, government schools are seeing higher attendance in classrooms even as private schools face a poor turnout.

According to government school principals, attendance has been in the 70-80 per cent range over the last week. Private schools said that the number is abysmally low at 10 per cent. While the former said improved weather conditions paved the way for better attendance, the latter blamed “hybrid learning”, fear of third Covid-19 wave and commute issues.

On 1 September, schools for classes 9 to 12, colleges and coaching centres reopened in Delhi in a phased manner. The move came 17 months after schools shut down in view of the pandemic.

Also read: 37% students in rural areas not studying at all as schools remain shut, survey finds

What government schools say

On the day of reopening, government and private schools witnessed a poor turnout due to rains. However, as the weather improved, so did attendance in government schools.

Sant Ram, the principal of Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in West Delhi’s Subhash Nagar, said attendance in classrooms has improved to the extent that he has stopped conducting online sessions for classes 9-12 completely. 

“We were facing major problems with online classes since most of our students do not have access to cellphones for learning. As of now our classrooms are witnessing up to 80 per cent attendance. So all classes for these grades have been shifted to offline mode,” said Ram.

He noted that the numbers for grades 11 and 12 are around 80 per cent while classes 9 and 10 are seeing 60-70 per cent attendance, respectively. Comparing it to January’s reopening, he said the response this time is much better due to regular classes now.

In South Delhi’s Jangpura Co-Ed Secondary School, Principal Harish Chandra said, “In Class 11 today (Friday), we had 34 of our 40 students come in, in Class 10 we had 39 of 58 students attend and in Class 9, we had 29 of 72 students attend.”

While Class 9 attendance is an area of concern for Chandra too, he has started extracurricular activities to “involve students doing tasks outside the classroom so that they don’t get bored”, in a bid to raise numbers.

Fear of third Covid wave, commute issues

Meanwhile, private schools are battling parents’ apprehensions and poor attendance.

Shalimar Bagh Modern Public School principal Alka Kapur told ThePrint that senior pupils have not turned up in “appreciable numbers”, with attendance even lesser in comparison to January.

“This could be due to the fact that previously we did not have the provision of hybrid classes. Our attendance for online classes has remained as high as 90 per cent and on the flip side it has dropped to 10 per cent for physical classes,” said Kapur.

“It is imminent that parents have grown apprehensive of a third wave of Covid endangering persons below 18 years of age as they have not been vaccinated. Another predicament the students and parents are facing is commuting…,” she added.

Ritu Mehra, the principal of Apeejay School in Sheikh Sarai, said, “We have seen up to 25 per cent of students turning up. The main reason for it is lack of transport facility.”

Mehra added that scattered Covid cases in schools across the country are also a cause for concern. “Though children enjoy coming to school, parents are too concerned to send them to school right now,” she added.

Meenakshi Kuhar, mother of a 16-year-old studying in Class 10 of a private school, said parents are still unwilling to send their children to schools. “We have asked our schools to give us data on the precautions they are following and the numbers of teachers who are fully vaccinated,” she said.

Kuhar, who is also the president of a school-parents association, said parents are concerned about a third Covid wave. “Not to forget that commuting has become a big problem. The school doesn’t provide for it and all the van drivers have gone back to their villages. How do willing parents send their children?” she said.

Also read: Bring kids back to schools or decades of progress will be reversed, warns medical colleges body


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