TED NewsDesk, New Delhi: After six months of closure, the time to bounce back to the formal-schooling has come. Schools across the country are busy modifying their physical and academic infrastructure as per the norms laid by the government. In the view of COVID-19, the schools in the national capital are taking various steps to improve sanitation, health and educational facilities to contain the spread of the virus. Besides, they are defining an “effective” schedule for the curriculum to have a delayed yet smooth session.
In a recent order passed by the Centre, the schools and other educational institutions received a go-ahead for graded reopening from October 15. However, the states and union territories have the liberty to decide whether to reopen these institutions or not. As a result, Delhi government passed an order for the extended closure of the educational institutions till October 31 due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
In the past few weeks, some schools across Delhi and districts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh took the initiative to reopen schools from 9th to 12th grades. The decision came after the government made a provision for students to visit their respective schools voluntarily to sought academic help.
“The shift in the mindset of students, teachers and non-teaching staff is the primary impact of repeated extensions in school reopening. We will be fully supportive of the government’s decision, but assertiveness is needed amid these new guidelines and notifications,” told Sageeta Hajela, Principal, Delhi Public School, to PTI.
“The school management understands the major transition young minds will be going through with the amalgamation of online-offline studies and therefore, needs a certain time-line to prepare infrastructure and teaching staff accordingly. Once a definitive declaration is made by the government only then can we effectively plan conducting our exams and completing our syllabus,” Hajela added.
According to Nidhi Bansal, Pro-Vice chairperson of Pacific World School, the students and educators are used to the formal classes due to which the home-based learning process seems disconcerting. The pandemic resulted in a rapid shift of educational platforms.
“However, the news about reopening of schools is doing the rounds, but no firm decision has come through. The authorities have issued guidelines. We have revamped infrastructure and prepared our staff, but a definitive time-line is a must to get things going. It is only creating an atmosphere of confusion, which is affecting syllabus and the academic calendar planning,” Mrs Bansal stated.
Talking about a survey conducted by Modern Public School, Delhi, the Principal of the school, Mrs Alka Kapur said, “approximately 98 per cent of parents are not willing to send their children to schools yet, fearing that they would contract COVID-19.”
Concerning its order to reopen schools from October 15, the Ministry of Education released Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for a safe and secure transition from online to the offline platform, on Monday. These regulations include consideration regarding attendance, no assessment for a maximum of three weeks, proper and timely sanitization and cleaning of the premises.
While the schools are taking mandatory precautions as a precondition for the health and safety of children on the premises, the parents are still unsure regarding sending their wards to schools. The pandemic may affect the commencement of classes, thus making them unstable with less number of students. The schools will have no other option than to depend upon “blended learning”.
The schools decided to curtail 30 per cent of the syllabus as a means of relaxation to the students. Moreover, teachers will get enough time to focus on the significant concepts to provide a detailed account to the students.
“Virtual learning has been a drastic transformation for every student and teacher. Teachers have to strategize and rework on the already laid syllabus planning. The reopening announcement has been made for students of higher classes and they need more attention and preparation through pre-board exams. They need to understand a particular section’s weightage pattern and question-paper solving,” said the Principal of Delhi International School, Mrs Priyanka Barara.
She highlighted that the schools must focus on some alternative initiatives. However, the delay in dates of reopening is, time and again, leading these institutions to revise their curriculum to save time.
Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal, DPS Ghaziabad said that the decision to reopen is concerned with the board examinees, thus leaving them at sixes and sevens. She further outlined that the administration and teaching members have several other responsibilities at school like compiling, collating and sorting study materials.
“Major attention from teaching staff has to be on not letting apprehension get their way, but the repeated extensions are doing that,” she added.
The government implemented a nationwide lockdown since the outbreak of Coronavirus. As a result, the educational institutions were shut down on March 16 to avoid the transmission of the virus. In the past two or three months (since June 8), the country approached towards the process of “Unlock” through various phases. The schools and universities continue to remain closed despite the upliftment of restrictions from other fields.