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Government schools in Andhra Pradesh officially started online classes for upper primary and secondary grades on July 12 for the first time since the pandemic began.

A teacher in Mumbai takes online classes of class 10 amid rising coronavirus cases in February 2021Image for representation/PTI
news Education Sunday, July 18, 2021 - 10:14

Andhra Pradesh is expected to reopen schools from August 16. Meanwhile, the online classes have begun for classes 6 to 10 from July 12. Government schools have officially taken to online classes for upper primary and secondary grades (classes 6 to 10) for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Education officials and school administrators said that while teachers are attempting to conduct lessons for as many students as possible, lack of access to devices and the internet continues to remain a challenge. 

Through most of the previous academic year 2020-21, lessons for government school students were mainly broadcast through the DD Saptagiri television channel. Andhra Pradesh was one of the first states to reopen schools between the first and second waves of COVID-19, with students of class 9 and 10 allowed to return to schools in November 2020. In a phased manner, by February, primary schools were also reopened but had to soon be closed due to the second wave of COVID-19. Online classes officially began for the current academic year 2021-22 from July 12. This time, there are no TV lessons being broadcast. Visakhapatnam District Education Officer Lingeswara Reddy said that the department is focusing on motivating teachers, having oriented them on how to conduct online classes. 

“Teachers are trying to find the availability of electronic devices among students, and dividing students into groups based on access and other criteria,” the Visakhapatnam DEO said. He claimed that around 80% of students are able to access lessons online. “For the remaining students, we have asked teachers to do home visits. Worksheets will also be given in a couple of days, so teachers can hand them over to students,” he added. Guntur DEO Ganga Bhavani said that wherever possible, teachers have been trying to tag students with classmates who have access to the internet, and students of classes 4 and 5 will also be taught online wherever possible. 

A school administrator from the Krishna district, however, said that less than 20% of students are able to attend online classes as their parents end up taking their smartphones to work. “Teachers are connecting to the internet from school and attempting to teach, but are not able to reach out to most of the students,” he said. 

Teachers have been advised to do home visits wherever possible, but that has been insufficient in allowing proper learning, he said. While worksheets are shared online and in person in some cases, following up on each student has also been difficult, the headmaster said. Moreover, teachers are also grappling with the huge loss of learning over the past year. Currently, the basics of the previous academic year are being taught, the Guntur DEO said. 

Earlier in June, the Municipal Administration department had first announced steps to introduce online classes through video-conferencing apps in municipal schools for classes 4 to 10, with a focus on high school students. The decision was opposed by the Municipal Teachers’ Federation leaders who said that having classes telecast on Doordarshan or uploaded on YouTube would ensure relatively more equitable access. 

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