KOLKATA: The authorities of city schools, where NEET was held, said the strict Covid safety protocol, followed while conducting the medical entrance test, gave them enough confidence to reopen their gates to students, once the state gives the go-ahead. Schools have been readying their SOP after the Centre issued a guideline, stating that the institutes can reopen from September 21, by bringing in teachers first and then Class IX-XII students.
The school authorities have also started seeking parents’ feedback on how comfortable they are to send their wards to schools. But with the education minister Partha Chatterjee saying on Wednesday that schools in Bengal would not reopen in September, the heads are waiting for the state’s directive. NEET was held at 66 centres in Kolkata and 16 in Howrah, mostly at the schools affiliated to CBSE, CISCE and the state board. They had to make safety arrangements on a large scale under the guidance of National Testing Agency, with some centres accommodating 450 to 850 candidates. Birla High School is gearing up to follow the same route mapping from its gate to classrooms — as it planned for NEET — when on-campus lessons resume. Lifts, staircases, passages and classrooms will also be sanitized in a similar way. The authorities will also ensure no rushing down the stairs, no loitering and no crowding at food counters. “NEET was more or less like a dress rehearsal and many of us workeds together to make the exam successful. We were jittery but pulled it off well because there was advance planning,” said the school’s principal Loveleen Saigal.
DPS Ruby Park, where more than 850 candidates took NEET, is now better equipped to handle students in their classrooms and labs. Most institutes are likely to resume their practical classes in small groups, if parents agree.
“We not only have a sanitization protocol in place but also the way small groups can be called in to start with. We are waiting for the state directive. During NEET, we noticed the frequency of sanitizer and the use of masks and gloves by children on campus and the experience will come in handy. We have realized that even if the temperature is high when people come in, a 15-minute rest helps bring it down and should not be mistaken for Covid,” said vice-principal Indrani Chattopadhyay.
At most NEET centres, furniture was arranged to ensure social distancing and the same planning is likely to continue in classrooms, staff rooms and other spaces. One challenge will be teaching with masks on and public address systems might be introduced to classes to give teachers’ lungs some respite.