All government and private schools for classes 9-12 have reopened in Tamil Nadu from September 1 and a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was also made by the Department of School Education which asked the educational institutions to follow Covid-appropriate behavior such as physical distancing, wearing masks and use of hand sanitizer.
Despite the SOP, over 100 students across the state were tested positive for coronavirus infection since September 1 and few schools were also shut and fumigated after the students got infected. The government has also ordered to conduct random RT-PCR tests in schools to detect the Covid-19 positive cases.
However, the government has not considered providing proper transportation for the students, who are depending on public transport, to reach their schools. Most of the buses, during the peak school hours, are extremely crowded, thus, making the students more vulnerable to the infection. While physical distancing is being maintained in the classrooms, the purpose is defeated during the time of travel as the buses are jampacked.
Ground reports by News18 suggest that starting from the capital city Chennai to districts like Cuddalore, the situation is the same. “I can’t miss the bus as I have to reach the school at the right time. I will have to wait for another 40 minutes to get the next bus. I don’t mind about coronavirus. I don’t want to miss this bus even if I want to travel in the footboard," said Palani, a Class 11 student from the Dindigul district.
Expressing concerns about the spread of the Covid-19 infection, Dr. Shanti Ravindranath said, “They won’t know even if they are infected by Covid-19 if they are asymptomatic. They will be carriers of the virus strains and pass it on to others unknowingly. Let it be inside a cramped bus or in other places, especially they are less than 18 and not vaccinated yet."
Days before the reopening of schools, Tamil Nadu Transport Minister Raja Kanappan had said that students can avail free transport just by showing their school ID cards if they are wearing the uniform.
However, the government failed to operate more buses at the time of peak hours, especially in the routes where many schools are located that put the school students in danger.