Odd-even vehicle permits may hit school attendance
SHILLONG: Breaking the COVID shackles, schools in Meghalaya are all set to reopen on September 21 and that students of Classes 9-12 would have to return to classes after a gap of six months.
But there is an issue. Both parents and schools principals feel that the odd-even vehicular restrictions are a big obstacle. They want the restriction to go for enabling all the students to resume classes without hindrance.
State Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui, however, has other thoughts. He is not on the same page with school principals and parents, at least for now. Principals of schools in Shillong have expressed concern over the non-lifting of the odd-even arrangement of plying vehicles in the city.
A parent said, "I have an odd-numbered vehicle so how can I drop my child to school every day?" adding that it is not safe to use public transport at this time and she is not going to expose her child to that risk.
St Edmund's School Principal, Br Solomon Morris said, "We are ready to reopen schools. Parents too have given their consent for students of Classes 9 and 10 to attend classes. We are taking full precautions for social distancing and have adequate space for that. However what is worrying is how the teachers and the parents of students will come to school every day if the odd/even arrangement persists. On my part I have given the teachers a certificate on the school letterhead saying that they are teachers of St Edmund's School and they have to come to school daily. This is just in case someone stops them from plying their vehicle."
Other school principals who did not wish to be named said most parents are still unsure about how safe it is to send their children to school now at a time when the pandemic is just spiking.
They said since the government has ordered reopening of schools they have to keep the schools open but cannot guarantee if students will come to school.
The principal of a leading institution said, "If the odd/even arrangement has been lifted elsewhere why not in Shillong city. The idea of opening schools is also to move towards normalcy so why apply the abnormal odd/even arrangement which will make it difficult for students and teachers?"
When this correspondent wanted a response from the Education Minister, he said, "We can take one decision at a time. We are living in an abnormal situation and have to learn to adjust. Let the schools start classes and we will observe the situation and take decisions accordingly."
As things stand now, schools will reopen as scheduled, but there may be depleted attendance both on account of COVID situation in the town and the odd-even restrictions on movement on vehicles.