The government has announced that from August 23, schools can be reopened for classes 9 to 12.

Students in a classroomRepresentational image/PTI
news Education Sunday, August 22, 2021 - 20:06

On August 16, the government released a circular permitting schools and Pre-University colleges to conduct offline classes from August 23 for classes 9 to 12 and had provided an SOP for it. The decision has been met with mixed response. While several parents felt that the decision to reopen schools was good as they felt that online learning couldn’t completely substitute the learning experience of a classroom, other parents expressed hesitancy to send their kids to offline classes without vaccination.

Manjula, a parent, said she felt that offline classes were needed for comprehensive learning but expressed concerns. “The last time schools opened around November 2020, I saw how poorly the SOP was being followed. The thermal scanner they were using was not working at all. Now even if the government has given all these things to follow, I doubt how well they will follow these protocols after some time,” she said.

Another parent named Keshav said, “When the children are at home, we can control how they are and even if they go out with us somewhere, we can have control on their behavior. But, in school even if we say that they follow all the protocols, some things aren’t easily controllable like when they have lunch, they will take off their masks and interact with their friends. Once they step outside the school gate, they might not follow COVID-19 protocols.”

Speaking to TNM, Mansoor Ali Khan, the general secretary of Management of Independent CBSE Schools Karnataka (MICS-K) said, “There is a lot of hesitancy from a lot of parents to send their children to schools with there being no vaccination program for that age group yet. We conducted a survey in the schools and we found that only 20-25% of parents are willing to send their kids to schools.”

However, when TNM spoke to Shashikumar, the general secretary of Association of Management of Primary and Secondary Schools of Karnataka (KAMS). He said that a huge number of parents were willing to send children to schools, referring particularly to schools that have students coming from the middle to low-income category.

“In our schools which mainly cater to the middle class and poor, we are seeing a mindset where parents are relieved that the schools are starting,” Shashikumar said.

The government had in its circular stated that “It is not mandatory for the students to attend the classes physically” and that students could attend classes online.

Shashikumar said that this will not be possible for the schools. He also said that KAMS is opposing this direction of the government.

Mansoor Ali also pointed out that this will be difficult as the schools don’t have enough resources or manpower to conduct both online and offline classes. “It is a catch 22 situation for the schools. With such a low number of children wanting to attend the offline classes, it becomes difficult for us to conduct classes both offline and online. This is because we can’t have two sets of teachers, one for offline and one for online. If we need to do that, the requirement of resources, infrastructure and number of trained teachers go up,” he said.

When asked how the schools plan to implement this, he said, “Some schools are planning to start schools to build confidence among parents to get back to a learning routine. There is one invisible crisis that is happening where learning is suffering. One method we are looking into is to start reopening in a graded manner where we call in classes 11 and 12 now and call class nine and 10 later. One more possibility we are looking into is where we record the offline class that goes on in school and send it to the other students who prefer online.”

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