Delay in declaring holiday for schools in Ernakulam under scrutiny

Kochi: Just days after taking office as Ernakulam District Collector, Dr Renu Raj has come under fire after failing to timely declare a holiday in the district despite the incessant rain in the region.

Though a decision was finally made that the schools will indeed remain shut for another day, students had begun their classes by then.

"Did the collector fall asleep?", read a post from a frustrated parent on the Collector's social media page. 

What further complicated the matter was Raj's alteration of her earlier statement which allowed schools to continue lessons if the students had already reached.

What perhaps was made as a gesture to avoid students having to make another difficult journey in the pouring rain was seen by many as Raj being "inefficient".

Schools in the district had made a choice of their own without having to depend on the Collector's order.

While some declared a holiday, others, in areas deemed safe and accessible, continued their lessons as usual.

It must also be said that the Collector did in fact declare a holiday for schools, but it was limited to a few sub-districts in the eastern part of the district.

Kerala is witnessing a spell of heavy rain these past days on account of a cyclonic circulation over the central-west Bay of Bengal.

A red alert was declared in eight of the 14 districts - Ernakulam is one of them; while an orange alert has been sounded in five.

The District Collectors of Alappuzha, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Thrissur had declared a holiday for educational institutions timely.

Now, a petition has been filed with the Kerala High Court against Ernakulam District Collector Renu Raj for failing to timely declare a holiday for educational institutions in the district.

The petition also urged the District officials to prepare a guideline for declaring holidays.

It has also sought a detailed report from Raj on the events that unfolded in the morning.

Minister K Rajan also held the view that a holiday for schools should be declared well in advance, thus saving the parents and especially the students a slew of difficulties.

He said the State will look into the delay in declaring a holiday in Ernakulam and take appropriate action.

A complaint has also been lodged against the Collector at the office of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

A parent recounts today's confusion

With her daughter's school management announcing that classes will resume as usual on Thursday and no word yet from the District Collector, a parent from Kaloor was compelled to send her seven-year-old to Greets Public School.

"Very reluctantly," she narrated. "There were heavy gusts of wind and rain since Wednesday midnight."

However, almost an hour and a half later, the teachers informed her that a holiday has been declared and asked that she come pick up her daughter.

"A needless complication. The entire situation could have been easily avoided if we had received an announcement by at least 7 am," the parent told Onmanorama.

She is only one of the many parents in Ernakulam who had to weather Thursday's confusion.

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