A day after the state education department announced theing of classes 1 to 9, education department officials said they were in touch with schools to check if they reopened following the Covid-19 protocol and also ensure that parents are not being forced to send their child to attend offline classes. Many schools are resuming classes from Thursday, while others said they would reopen next week as they would require more time to sanitise classrooms and put safety measures in place.
A senior official from the education department said that they were coordinating with all school heads and have briefed them on the precautions that need to be taken. “Schools with high student strength are told to divide the students in batches for offline classes and wearing of masks will be mandatory while attending classes,” said the official, adding that schools were also asked to see if they can check body temperatures of students while they enter the school premises and provide masks if possible.
Schools reopened for classes 10 to 12 on February 1 and students who had received the first dose of the vaccine were allowed. All educational institutions were shut in Haryana on January 10, following the third wave of the pandemic, which saw a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases.
On Tuesday, Haryana education minister Kanwar Pal had announced that classes 1 to 9 will reopen across the state from February 10. “The Covid-19 situation now is under control and schools have been issued to open. But it will be optional for students to physically visit the school campus to attend classes and they can continue with online mode. All arrangements have been made for both offline and online classes,” he tweeted.
Several schools said the response from parents is rather suppressed so far because younger children are not yet eligible for vaccination and few have shown interest in letting their children switch to offline classes. Only those aged between 15-18 years are eligible for the vaccine.
Principals of government schools on Wednesday said that turnout in classes 10 to 12 is as low as 40% due to Covid-19 related apprehensions.
Anju Sharma, the principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Basai, said that last year parents were still ready to send their wards and were waiting for the classes to resume, but this time parents of 70% of students have not sent their consent. “We are facing a challenge even for the board classes. Most students are not taking their doubt clearing classes seriously and internal exam results are also not up to the mark,” she said.
Suman Sharma, principal, Government Model Senior Secondary School at Sector 4 and 7, said that many parents were concerned about the decision to reopen the school for junior classes as students are yet to be vaccinated and they are at risk. “We will focus on hybrid learning (offline and online sessions) and are requesting parents to send their rewards to make up for the learning loss. We will also be holding doubt clearing sessions so that all queries of students are addressed before the final exams,” she said.
Some schools, however, said that they expect high attendance from Thursday. Soumya Taneja, who heads the junior section of Summer Fields School, said, “We received an amazing response from parents who are eager to send their children back to school. They told us that their children suffered a lot as schools have been closed for a very long period. We hope that a good number of students will attend offline classes and we are gearing up to ensure that Covid-19 appropriate behavior is strictly followed,” she said.
Nidhi Tewari, principal, Ridge Valley School, said, “Many surveys and reports show that the outcome of two years of learning loss will reflect in the future. Students are completely exhausted with online classes, and so are parents, especially, working parents who have to go to work are facing massive challenges with nobody to monitor the kids during the online sessions.”
Tewari said a lot of learning happens with peers through interaction, deliberations, and discussions. “A huge learning gap is created. We also need to look at the emotional compass of our children. As far as India is concerned, we were the first one to close schools and the last one to open. The western countries opened their schools a long time back. We must at least open our schools in bubbles, otherwise, we will have a generation of undereducated children with no understanding of 21st Century skills,” she added.
Neeti Kaushik, director/principal, Mount Olympus School, said that they are reopening from Monday and have received consent from more than 50% of the parents.