Ooty’s famous boarding schools now turn quarantine centres


Once a summer season palace of the Maharaja of Baroda, the 15-acre junior faculty campus of the Good Shepherd International Residential School in Udhagamandalam (popularly often known as Ooty), will now operate as COVID-19 care centre.

Called the Fernhill campus, the over 100-year-old constructing overlooks Ooty Lake, making for a restful and scenic quarantine centre. “We had 180 students staying at the Fernhill campus, and a 100-plus bed facility,” says Brigadier Suresh Kumar (retired), senior vice-principal (administration) of the varsity. He provides, “From this academic year, we have shifted the junior school to our new campus in Palada. As it is shut now, we have handed it over to the district administration for use as a quarantine centre. Our students had vacated the campus and gone home once lockdown was announced. Now, they attend online classes.”

Although the Nilgiris was thought of Covid-free until June 15, it has been witnessing a spike in numbers. Over the final 36 days, a complete of 472 individuals have examined optimistic within the district.

To cope with the pandemic, the district administration has roped in as many as eight schools, together with the Laidlaw Memorial School at Ketti, Kendriya Vidyalaya at Wellington and Saint Jude’s Public School in Kotagiri, to transform the campuses as a centre for asymptomatic sufferers. Udhagamandalam is house to a number of the nation’s finest boarding schools, most constructed throughout British rule. The amenities and requirements of training are thought of amongst one of the best in India they usually proceed to attract college students from the neighbouring nations too.

“Because of building restrictions, there aren’t enough spaces like big halls to accommodate patients. We approached the boarding schools and took over some sections for quarantine facility,” says Ranjeet Singh, Sub Collector, Coonoor.

Six dormitories, and amenities together with a medical inspection room, on the Good Shepherd faculty campus have been handed over to the native administration since first week of May. “We had 180 beds, which along with social distancing came to 100. One batch of 45 patients who were quarantined have recovered. Now, we have another batch of 61. There are no positive cases at the facility. It’s our social responsibility to lend support,” provides Brigadier Kumar, “It’s a national crisis. All schools that have residential facilities must come forward. As of now it is under control. What if the numbers go up? Schools are best suited spaces for such care centres. We plan to provide support as long as they require.”

At Lawrence School in Lovedale, 72 individuals have been accommodated. Established in 1858, the varsity capabilities out of a sprawling 750-acre inexperienced campus.“It is our commitment to help the community,” says Ok Prabhakar, headmaster of Lawrence School. “As per the Disaster Management Act, we have allocated a few areas of our campus. We have rearranged a few things to make this possible.”

Mind issues

A typical day on the quarantine amenities begins with a session on yoga and meditation. “Though they are just carriers, there is fear. With most hospitals filled up, an isolated space does a lot of good to their psyche. Even the Government allows home quarantine for mild symptomatic or asymptomatic people. But, battling the stigma from neighbours takes a toll,” explains Singh.

Besides medical officers, a meals security officer has been appointed. Nurses, docs, safety guards, and help workers of the varsity are stationed there. The sufferers are suggested to remain contained in the dormitories. “We have tied up with restaurants to deliver food packets. Later, if the need arises we plan to cook on the premises.”

While the power is used to deal with major or secondary contacts, people who find themselves over 60 years previous and have co-morbid circumstances are referred to the ESI hospital in Coimbatore, the nodal hospital of the district. Says Singh, “We are not taking any chances. Even if there is a single positive case, we trace the primary and secondary contacts. Over 800 samples are lifted every day. We hope the numbers decline in the coming days. Self awareness, social distancing, and better hygiene are the only way forward.”

He provides, “As most schools are away from the town, there is no disturbance for the public. The charming location of the schools amidst the lush, green hills of the Nilgiris is naturally calming.”

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