Ahead of reopening, several schools yet to finish clean-up, ready buses

Ahead of reopening, several schools yet to finish clean-up, ready buses

 Thiruvananthapuram: Schools across Kerala are set to reopen on November 1 after a long shutdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The authorities have already issued a comprehensive set of guidelines for all stakeholders for ensuring smooth and safe conduct of classes. But a slew of issues is set to hobble the school authorities despite making all out efforts to restore a belated academic session.

A total of 1,625 primary schools do not have permanent head teachers. Also, the Parent–Teacher Association (PTA) is not actively involved in several schools.

Some other issues faced by schools include the following:

Cleaning drags

Several schools are yet to complete the cleaning. The local bodies and the PTAs have to take the initiative to carry out the clean-up drive. Though directives were issued to reorganise the PTA, it has not been implemented.

No estimate of mid-day meal

Though directives have been issued to provide mid-day meals from day 1, there is still no clarity on how many students will come to schools.

Unsafe structures

The High Court and the Child Rights' Commission had ordered that the roof should not be made of asbestos, aluminium or tin sheets. The time given to replace these, as per the order, has lapsed. Citing this, the local bodies have not issued the fitness certificate to over 2,000 schools.

Apart from this, building construction is ongoing at several government schools. Parents are concerned that these would pose a threat to the children's safety.

A total of 37 hi-tech schools in the Kannur district are yet to receive the fitness certificate, while 18 schools in the Kottayam district were found to be unfit.

Buses await fitness

Of the total 22,000 school buses in Kerala, only 2,000 have been issued fitness certificates so far. Though there are over 200 school buses in Alappuzha district, only 30 have got approval. Though 100 school buses have been issued fitness certificate in Kottayam district, less than 10 buses were denied permission.

More than half of the school buses in Malappuram have not applied for the fitness certificate. Among the 2,600 buses of the 800 schools in Kannur district, only 430 buses have been issued the fitness certificate. As the buses were kept off the roads for 19 months, the tyres and batteries have been fully damaged. A total of 329 school buses are registered in Kasaragod district. Of this, 35 are outdated. Of the remaining 294, only 84 have received the fitness tag.

KSRTC BOND service out of reach

Though the KSRTC had declared that it would start the bus-on-demand (BOND) service, doubts are being raised in which all areas it can be practically implemented.

Though five schools in Thrissur district contacted the KSRTC for the BOND service, the institutions backed off on coming to know of the rates. A total of 36 schools in the Kannur district have sought the service, but 135 buses will be needed just to operate the services for the schools and the KSRTC depot in the district has just 212 buses. Only two schools in Malappuram have submitted the application.

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