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Goa: Flowers, gifts, and red carpet as students return to school | Goa News

PANAJI: Atharv Manjilkar is enrolled in Class IV at Prabhodan Prathamik Vidyalaya, Porvorim. But on Monday, it was only his second academic year attending school, as students from Class I to XII in Goa returned to school after two years of learning online during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Atharv reached his school on Monday morning to find his teachers standing with an aarti thali to welcome him and his classmates.
Schools across the state were found decorated with flowers and rangoli, and many handed students balloons, sweets, chocolates, pens and notebooks as a welcome gesture.
“I am very happy to come back to school. I didn’t even know the names of my classmates. I learned their names today,” said Atharv.
Ashraf Khan, headmaster of Unity High School, Valpoi, made students walk the red carpet on their first day.
“Around 200 students from Classes V to VII attended school on Monday, while those in Class VIII to X will report on Tuesday. PTA members appreciated the school authority for giving a warm welcome to their children by decorating the main gate with flowers and balloons and handing children pens, pencils, notebooks and sweets as gifts. Students were made to walk the red carpet,” Khan said.
Most schools reported over 80% attendance on day-1, as students were divided into batches to maintain social distancing. The second batch will begin school from Tuesday.
Some institutes that had the required infrastructure chose to operate at full capacity on Monday itself. Shri Shantadurga High School, Bicholim, saw its entire enrolment of 1,300 attend physical classes on the first day.
School buses were also seen plying across Goa at reduced capacity.
Students were allowed inside schools after carrying out temperature checks and seated one per bench as a precaution against Covid.
“Most students who have been called to school have turned up. Only some who were attending online class from their native places outside Goa could not attend physically because of the short notice. As days go by, attendance will improve further,” said Suhas Sardesai of Mushtifund Saunstha, which reopened its schools from Classes I to XII on the first day itself, at reduced capacity.
“Every nook and cranny” of the school has been sanitised for the children’s return to school, he said.
Several students turned up in casual clothing as the directorate of education relaxed the uniform rule for school reopening. However, wearing masks was made mandatory by schools.
A full five-and-half hours of schooling was held on the first day itself in many institutes, with only primary school students allowed to go home early on the first day.
“Classes for students from Classes V to X were held from 8am to 1.30pm, as usual. For students from Class I to IV, classes will be held up to 10.30am during the first week, and we will increase this time by an hour every week to allow the younger students the time to adjust,” said headmaster of LD Samant Memorial High School, Mahlsakant Deshpande.
He said this time, parents were kept outside the school gates to avoid crowding at the institute’s entry point.
“We saw over 95% attendance. We received good support from parents. We have created different entry points for each section of the school as we have everything from primary section to college at our premises,” said Deshpande.
There were, however, institutes in the state where students of only Classes III and IV of the primary section were told to attend during the first few weeks, while online sessions will continue for Class I and II during this period. Most pre-primary schools also did not open on the first day, stating that the directorate of education’s instructions on reopening were not clear.
Parents of a Panaji-based school said they could not send their children to attend offline class on Monday as the institute informed them about the timetable as late as 9.30pm on Sunday.
RPR Soundhekar High School, Bandora, was among institutes that began on Monday by conducting an orientation session to inform children about the importance of social distancing and the norms to be observed in post-Covid schooling.
Founder chairman of Ideal High School, Pilgao, Ramchandra Garde, said it is a happy moment to see students back at school.
Parents of some Canacona schools said that though physical classes have resumed at the fag-end of the academic year, they were happy that at least a start to offline interaction has been made.
(With inputs from Afaq Khan, Pritam Chodankar & Albert Fernandes)

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