Schools in Andhra Pradesh reopened after eight months on Monday but things did not go as planned. As many as 829 teachers and 575 students from classes 9 and 10 tested positive for coronavirus across 13 districts.
The figures are expected to rise as a total of 70,790 teachers and 95,763 students have undergone RT-PCR tests and most Covid-19 results are awaited. However, the education department highlighted that the situation is not alarming and that all necessary precautions are being followed.
"Most of the teachers and students were tested before schools reopened on November 2. So it is wrong to assume that most of the cases spiked after schools resumed. I request parents and media not to believe fake messages being circulated on social media," said Commissioner of School Education V Chinna Veerabhadrudu.
However, he didn't offer any explanation on why Covid-19 test results of teachers and students weren't checked before allowing them to attend schools.
According to statistics released by the state government, 98.92% schools have started operating since November 2 with a cumulative strength of nearly 4 lakh students of classes 9 and 10. Out of the 1.11 lakh teachers, over 90,000 attended schools. Officials said the maximum number of cases were reported from Prakasam district where at least four schools turned out to be Covid-19 hotspots.
The state education department has now set up a special task force to monitor the situation. "Only those who test negative will be allowed to attend schools. All Covid-19 positive teachers and students were isolated immediately. Schools are being thoroughly sanitised and standard operating procedures are being strictly followed." said Andhra Pradesh Education Minister Adimulapu Suresh.
Despite the rising number of cases, the state government said it will continue operating schools for classes 9 and 10 and Intermediate first and second year on alternate days only on half-a-day basis. Classes for 6-8 are set to resume on November 23 while those studying in 1 to 5 can start attending from December 14.