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Kohima: With COVID-19 cases on the decline in Nagaland, state schools are expected to fully resume by November after the state government permitted reopening primary schools in rural areas from November 1. 

Schools across Nagaland have started resuming in a phase-wise manner for different classes, a school education department official informed EastMojo on the condition of anonymity, “As of now, no cases have been reported from schools across the state.”

Classes I-IV would resume in rural areas under Unlock-8 guidelines. The government has authorised the district task forces in urban areas to consider the reopening of schools for the said classes as per the situation in the respective districts.

As per the official, re-opening primary schools is the ‘right step.’ “Experts have advised the opening of schools for primary school children. Most of the states are doing the same, and it is about time to open schools,” the official said.

A headteacher from one of the government primary schools in a rural area said the school has already resumed for the lower classes even ahead of the government’s order to re-open schools for class I-IV.

“Somehow, we are managing classes with local restrictions as the village is free from COVID-19. It’s done secretly since the village is surrounded by lofty hills on all four sides,” the teacher, who wished to remain anonymous as he was not authorised to speak to media, said. 

The teacher said students in rural areas are struggling to cope up with online lessons. “Online classes are not possible here. Most of the parents do not have smartphones, and there is very poor internet connectivity as well. Most parents are illiterate and are not able to guide the students at home even if we distribute notes,” the teacher said.

Learning disparity has increased, the teacher said. “We cannot compare students in the rural area with those in the urban areas. So along with the village council, we decided to resume classes,” the teacher added.

The teacher informed that accordingly, the village decided that the residents will not be allowed to visit high-risk zones and only vaccinated persons will be permitted to move in and out of the village. The teachers are also required to stay in the village.

“People here have understood that following COVID-19 appropriate behaviours and doing away with unnecessary movements outside of the village will prevent the spread of the disease and keep the village free from COVID-19,” the teacher added.

As far as reopening schools for the primary section ahead of November 1 is concerned, a government official said that it has not been brought to the knowledge of the department.

Vikiyeto Noel Jimomi, a father of three from Kohima, said, “As a parent, I was apprehensive over reopening schools from a health perspective. Children still cannot take care of themselves as much as adults. When nearly half of the adult population are still ignorant and careless, I do fear that safety protocols may not be followed properly, not at the school itself as such, but in transit, such as buses, or the interactions with other people.”

“But, it is necessary and important for offline classes to resume because online teaching does not suffice. The lack of study discipline is noticed during online classes. We need classroom atmosphere for all-round development and discipline along with systematic and routine activities,” Jimomi said.

When offline classes resumed for his elder two children, he said that the parent-teacher duty has eased as there were daily tensions over bad network connectivity, even in the state capital. “Nagging children for letting them complete schoolwork in time is not there anymore, as they do their schoolwork in the school itself. Our blood pressures are back to normal”, he added with a smile.

Jimomi’s eldest son is a class-IX student from Vineyard School in Kohima and his two daughters are students of class 6 and class 1 at Rev Dr Neiliezhü Üsou Memorial School in Kohima. “COVID-19 is here to stay with us and we all have to gradually accept the fact that anyone can be infected. The only thing that matters is that our children, as well as adults, need to be well-trained and take proper care, be hygienic, follow all protocols,” he said.

While schools for Class 5 and above resumed in September, Jimomi is apprehensive of sending the youngest child to school. “I wish the primary section does not re-open soon. The primary students will be unable to take care and even follow protocols. I wish the government allow the primary section to finish the academic year online as we are in the last term and then take a decision only for the next academic year,” the parent said.

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