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Shillong: After many months, the Don Bosco Square in Shillong came to life again with students crossing the streets with friends, often laughing or discussing with each other. Reason? Schools opened in Meghalaya starting September 1, and although the number of students was low, it was nevertheless a welcome change to see them out in the streets again.

The Don Bosco Square in Laitumkhrah is considered the education hub since most schools are in adjacent areas. Students returned with the customary face mask, which is almost part of a school attire now.

Davinson, a class 10 student of Shillong Public School, said that it was hard during lockdown with no teachers to teach them. “I am happy that today after many months, I got to meet my friends and also consulted with my teachers about the doubts I had,” he added.

Also Read: Schools, colleges can be reopened from Sept 1: Meghalaya education minister

He added that online classes are a barrier due to the connectivity issue. He added that in a classroom teachers can explain everything using a whiteboard, which cannot happen with online classes.

Kevin Rynjah, a class 12 student of Shillong Public School, concurred with Davinson. Kevin said that it is difficult to understand the explanation online, and they understand better in the classroom.

“We do get more time indeed (at home). It is an advantage but there are certain disadvantages too. I’m glad that once again the school is open now we can go and attend classes regularly,” said Rynjah.

Most of the schools witnessed the same schedule of classes starting at 9 am and continuing up to noon. Rynjah also said that he doesn’t fear coming to school since he is fully vaccinated.

S Kharmih, another student at St Anthony’s School, said that she has not been vaccinated since she is not eligible. “I feel blessed since it is an opportunity to get back to class and clarify my doubts with the teachers. Online classes were not that hard. I was able to manage, but coming to school is better. Hoping things will come to normal,” said Kharmih.

Asked if her parents were reluctant to send her to school, she replied in the negative. “It’s my responsibility to take care and follow the protocols,” she added.

Also Read: Meghalaya ‘worst’ in school education but things will improve, says minister

Wantina Kharkongor, a Commerce teacher at St Anthony’s School, said a classroom cannot be replaced. During the pandemic, there were several problems, but they had to take the alternative and keep the students involved.

“Today, when I came to the classroom, it was the best experience looking at them and having a face to face teaching it can’t be replaced.

“In our school, we have students from different backgrounds. There are students from areas where there is no electricity. Let alone internet, they don’t even have a smartphone. But somehow, we could pull through. Even mental stress also goes away when they are in the classroom,” mentioned Kharkongor.

Asked if most students have been vaccinated, Kharkongor said that they have seen most students have taken the vaccine. She added that she has been fully vaccinated.

Also Read: Meghalaya may reopen schools, colleges after mid-August: Education Minister

“They have a lot of hesitancy concerning vaccination. They have a lot of questions. But I also believe faith and science should go hand in hand. I have taken the vaccine for my students and family,” mentioned Kharkongor.

After the first wave of COVID-19, Meghalaya closed educational institutions in March. After the cases came down, the schools partially reopened in December 2020. The schools were again closed when the second wave hit the state in May 2021. The Meghalaya govt had recently decided to allow the schools to reopen with protocols.

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