Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Thursday issued an official notice preponing the summer vacation in state-run and aided schools by three weeks to May 2, except in the hill areas, due to the prevailing sweltering heat conditions. Summer vacation in schools was originally scheduled to start from around May 24-25. The school education department in the notice asked both primary and secondary boards to prepone the summer vacation to May 2 in the schools under its control until further instructions.
Schools in hill areas exempted from the order
The schools in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts are exempted from the order, which said the existing academic calendar will be adhered to in these hill areas. The notice made it clear that the teaching and non-teaching staff of the institutions will also be on leave as a special case during the preponed vacation period and will have to “make suitable arrangements for conducting extra classes after the reopening of the schools to make up the loss due to the early closure of schools.”
Steps taken to protect students
The state government was mulling such a step on the advice of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to protect the health of students in the hot summer, Education Minister Bratya Basu said on Wednesday. Various leading schools in the city have already taken steps to help the students and will abide by the government’s orders.
La Martiniere for Boys and La Martiniere for Girls spokesperson Supriyo Dhar told PTI that classes in the two schools are already suspended till April 17. “We will take the appropriate decision after the schools reopen, considering the health hazard for the children due to the heat Classes in both junior and senior sections will be suspended as students in both age groups are children. We have full respect for the state government and appreciate the spirit of this notice.”
Principal of BD Memorial International School, Bijoya Choudhury told PTI that as the entire school building is air-conditioned, the students may not be facing the hot conditions inside it. “However, the students may face difficulty in coming to the school. As far as we are concerned, we respect the directive of the government and will take the call at the right time after discussions.”
Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association general secretary Ananda Handa told PTI that the government decision was taken in an arbitrary manner without holding discussions with teachers, academics, weather scientists, doctors, and guardians.
“We hear the decision has been prompted by the chief minister. But has the government weighed all the factors? How much has the temperature risen? Is there a real need for advancing the summer vacation by three weeks? Few people cannot assume the role of meteorologists. How did the government arrive at the conclusion that the temperature will cross the tolerance limits from May 2 onwards?” he asked.
Heat wave in Bengal
The government could have instead considered the proposal to hold classes in the morning – from 6 or 7 am to 10 or 11 am and left untouched the summer vacation schedule, Handa said. The IMD eastern head Sanjib Bandopadhyay when contacted said according to the forecast presently available heat wave conditions will prevail in south Bengal till April 17. The city hit the 40-degree Celsius mark for the first time this season on Thursday.