More than a thousand people gathered at Babesa HSS for admission of class XI students on April 24. Many raised concerns about the safety of schools and called for stringent measures.

Chhimi Dema 

More than 1,000 students, parents and teachers gathered at Babesa Higher Secondary School, Thimphu for admissions in the four government high schools in the thromde.

Thimphu education officials had called all students seeking admission in class XI in the four government schools of the thromde at Babesa HSS on April 24.

Soon after the meeting began, pictures of the crowd surfaced on social media and many condemned the thromde office for blatantly flouting the health ministry’s Covid-19 safety measures. Many blamed the thromde and the education ministry for the poor planning.

Desuups had to intervene to ensure those at the gathering complied with the Covid-19 safety protocols.

Kuensel learned that six desuups, who were posted at the school for daily Covid-19 safety protocols enforcement, were stationed at the school and after the crowding, additional desuups joined to help manage the crowd.

Kuensel also learned that neither DeSuung nor the police were informed about the gathering for admission that day.

A thromde education official said parents accompanying their children doubled up the number of people, which they overlooked while planning. “We did not foresee every parent accompanying his or her child. That surprised us,” the official said.

According to the plan, students were divided into four groups, the official said. “We thought it was manageable. It was one compound but there were four buildings to cater to each group.”

The official said that the admission could not be conducted in different schools because it had to be based on merit ranking.

“People are saying that we could have done the admission differently but there wasn’t time. Results were declared only a week ago,” the official said. “We were given a few days to plan out.”

The official claimed that the Covid-19 protocols were strictly followed.

A Babesa resident, Tshering, said she was surprised by the crowd when she went to drop her son. “It was no different from normal times,” she said.

Alarmed, she said the thromde should have ensured safety protocols are in place. “I was worried Covid-19 virus would spread too fast if one was carrying it.”

The mother of three said her son waited for the whole day in the crowd, only to be told to return the next day. “And yesterday, they asked him to fill up a form.”

She said the son will carry the form and go to his previous school today. “I hope there won’t be a crowd there too.”

The admission for the science and commerce stream students was done on the day and students opting for the arts stream were told to come the next day. However, it was later notified that students opting for arts stream were to register online.

“It appeared that we’re called there to fill a form for the thromde’s convenience otherwise, everything on the placement was done online already,” another parent said.

In the country, four new positive cases were recorded yesterday taking the number to 94 positive cases. Regionally the cases are rising with about 400,000 positive cases in a day in India.

Another parent raised concerns that if there was a case of local transmission then there would not be enough space in the hospital.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering expressed his disappointment at the incident during the education ministry’s midterm review meeting yesterday. He said that those responsible for the meeting should be held accountable if any person of those who attended the admission meeting tests positive for Covid-19.