The government sources on Monday said that no decision has been taken yet on a time frame for re-opening of schools. The sources added that the time of reopening of schools will depend on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. So far, only Chandigarh has expressed its intention of open re-opening schools.
In a meeting of the Ministry of Education Parliamentary Standing Committee, the officials of the ministry said that according to the guidelines, online classes are not allowed for students till Class 3. The parents of students up to class three can participate in online classes. However, limited online classes can take place for students from Class 4-7. The Ministry of Education officials informed that schools will be opened on the advice of the states.
Some members of the committee also raised the matter that children were denied mid-day meal at many places during the period of the coronavirus pandemic. The officials said that the state governments have been asked to give food or ration to the children.
During a discussion on online class in the committee, some members said that many children don’t have the facility of mobile and laptop for online classes. In such a situation, radio should be distributed to poor children so that children can study through community radio.
The Committee chairman and BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe suggested to the government that a ‘Question Bank’ should be created to relieve the stress of college students and questions from this should be asked in the exams. The government said that this can be considered. It was also said that there will be no zero year in college which means that at the end of the year there will be an examination.
In July, the Ministry of Education had released circular asking states and union territories to seek feedback from parents when they will be comfortable with reopening of schools. The Department of School Education and Literacy had sent a circular also asking the expectations of parents from schools once they reopen.
The Department of School Education and Literacy has directed education secretaries of all states and union territories to revert with the feedback by July 20. “I am directed to refer to the subject matter with a request to furnish feedback of parents of school-going children on the following points by 20.07.2020 (Monday) positively:
i. What is the likely period when they will be comfortable with reopening of schools —August / September / October 2020
ii. What are the parents’ expectations from Schools — as and when they reopen?
iii. Any other feedback/remarks in this regard,” the circular from the HRD ministry said.
It may be recalled that all educational institutions across the country have been shut since March 24 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The “extraordinary situation” which has arisen due to the COVID-19 crisis has also forced the Centre to slash the school syllabus up to 30 per cent for students of classes 9 to 12. Justifying the decision, the ministry had said that courses will be rationalized to lighten the load of the students.
The ministry has been asking schools and colleges to adopt online teaching instead of classroom teaching during the coronavirus pandemic. It has also issued guidelines for online classes by schools and suggested that schools should impose a cap on the duration and the number of sessions in a day for students.