Bengaluru: Karnataka schools and pre-university colleges reopened for students on Friday with strict Covid-19 safety norms.

While regular classes began on Friday for class 10 and second year PUC (class 12) students, who will be facing board exams; students from grades 6-9 came to campuses for the Vidyagama programme, which enables continued schooling.

Following all precautions and safety norms, students wearing masks with consent letters from their parents were seen entering the classes after thermal checks and sanitising their hands at schools and PU colleges across the state.

The students were seen seated maintaining social distancing inside the classes too.

According to reports so far, with Friday being the first day, also New Year, not all students attended classes.

While the government’s decision to reopen schools and colleges faced some opposition from certain sections about opening schools and PU colleges amidst prevailing pandemic situation, others including Education Minister Suresh Kumar were of the opinion that opening of schools and colleges along with preventive measures were necessary for students, especially in rural areas, with online education mostly not available and cases of them being forced into labour.

Schools and PU colleges have remained closed in the state since March just ahead of the national lockdown was first enforced to combat Covid-19.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said the school and colleges are restarting in the interest of educational progress of the students.

"Happy New Year to everyone. In the interest of educational progress of the students, from today class 10 and 12 will start, also Vidyagama will restart for class 6 to 9 students. All the necessary arrangements have been made for the safety of the students. Compulsorily use masks, maintain social distancing, cleanliness and cooperate with the government," he said in a tweet.

Anxious parents were seen accompanying their children to schools; while teachers were seen welcoming students and guiding them regarding safety protocols that need to be followed.

Classrooms and premises of schools and colleges were sanitised ahead of classes resuming on Friday.

Minister Suresh Kumar, who visited schools and PU colleges at various places, also inspected the arrangements and interacted with students said, parents need not worry as all the necessary precautionary measures are being strictly followed.

"There is scene of celebration and joy at school premises...the worry that is there among some parents will not go easily in a day it will be there, so I'm saying two things, those who still have worries send your children to schools once it is resolved, as it is not compulsory, and those sending to schools don't worry, precautionary measures are in place," he said.

"About the worry around the second wave and UK variant, I have spoken to expert committee members, there is no need for worry, it is not more dangerous than the earlier Covid variant, same precautionary measures will hold good and the vaccines that are getting ready will be able to address it," he added.

Expecting attendance of 40-50% on Friday, the Minister also said we are not expecting good attendance on the first day itself, as attending classes are not compulsory, also (Friday) being a New Year many may want to come to classes from Monday.

He also said that the department was mulling over setting up a vigilance team at all districts to visit schools and to check about precautionary measures and look into shortcomings if any.

(With inputs from agency)