Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

A 12-year-old Class VII student of Phuentsholing Lower Secondary School (PLSS), Shrijana Khatiwara, was overjoyed yesterday.

She was returning to school after about five months of online studies.

“I am extremely happy to be back to school,” she said. “I met my friends after a long time. I kept in touch with them during the lockdown.”

She said learning online was difficult. “Learning in the classroom is much better. Teachers can guide us and also explain lessons better.”

Phuentsholing went into lockdown on April 17. Although partial relaxations were given depending on the zones, the town didn’t see full relaxations until August 10. All schools were closed.

While students from Classes IX to XII were relocated to Punakha last month, students of pre-primary to class VIII learnt online.

Since Phuentsholing Higher Secondary School (PHSS) and Phuentsholing Middle Secondary School (PMSS) premises are used for Covid-19 related purposes, students of these schools have been accommodated at Sonamgang Middle Secondary School (SMSS) and Phuentsholing Lower Secondary School (PLSS) respectively.

The schools are operating with strict Covid-19 protocols prepared by the Southern Covid-19 Task Force (SC19TF).

The principal of PLSS, Chimi Rinzin, said the school is operated as per the SC19TF standard operating procedure (SOP).

“Our campus is also used by the PMSS students,” he said.

The students of the two schools have different entrance and timing so that the students do not crowd. The morning assembly is also not conducted. Students directly attend the classes.

The principal of PMSS, Tshewang, said the students are happy to return to the school.

“As per the SOP, we also have a counselling room, a health room, and an isolation room,” he said. “There is a difference of 30 minutes. Our students come after the PLSS students are already in the classes.”

Meanwhile, it is exactly a month now Phuentsholing has not seen Covid-19 case from the community. On September 13, 410 samples were collected from enhanced surveillance areas, flu clinics, communities and quarantine facilities in Phuentsholing.

The samples received from other dzongkhags also tested negative as of yesterday.

Edited by Tashi Dema