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Business News/ Education / News/  Staggered classes, e-lessons may greet students when schools reopen
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Staggered classes, e-lessons may greet students when schools reopen

Schools may run longer but will hold fewer classes to stagger entry of students and to reduce crowding on premises

Young primary school students are likely to join classes much later than their secondary or senior secondary peers. (Reuters )Premium
Young primary school students are likely to join classes much later than their secondary or senior secondary peers. (Reuters )

Schools across the country shut their gates in March; when the students finally return, the process will be in stages—classes in shifts, older students resuming first, and classrooms complemented by online lessons.

According to two government officials familiar with the matter, the central and state governments are discussing the measures, besides general hygiene steps, as they ponder over how to safely bring India’s 290 million students back to schools. The final rules will be framed and notified later.

The staggered return of students, will see young primary students joining classes much later than their secondary or senior secondary peers. “Social or physical distancing among younger students is almost impossible and that makes this cohort a little difficult to manage. Besides, the learning loss for a nursery or standard two student when compared with a secondary or senior secondary student is limited," said the first person requesting anonymity. This is “certainly a key criterion to be accounted for while finalizing the rules," he added.

“For senior students, a blended learning model—physical and digital classroom instructions—will be explored at least in the first few months when the new academic session gets going. Besides, the schools may run longer hours, but fewer classes to stagger the entry of students and reduce crowding of the school space," the second official said, also requesting anonymity.

India’s 1.4 million-plus schools are closed since the third week of March.

The second official said under the Right to Education Act, no student from classes one to five can be failed, and amid the pandemic, young students should not be put at any risk. He, however, said the final rules will be framed after all safety issues are considered.

In May, the Union home ministry had said that educational institutions are expected to open after July, after consulting all stakeholders and following safety guidelines issued by the health ministry. The human resource development ministry has already held a meeting with state education officials, where most participants agreed that the safety of students and school staff need to be taken care of.

“Obtained valuable suggestions from state governments regarding issues related to school education. Our priority has always been the safety and security of students and teachers," HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal tweeted on Monday, adding that suggestions received by his ministry will be evaluated and sent to the home and health ministries for framing guidelines. he added that the syllabus and teaching hours may be trimmed this academic year to reduce the burden on students.

“In an Indian context, younger students joining schools later than their seniors will be a sensible idea. Schools are overcrowded and maintaining safety standards would be tough. Staggered opening of schools is a necessity in the present context, and parents are also demanding that it should happen when the coronavirus is under control," said Manit Jain, founder of Heritage School in Gurugram, and head of the school education committee at FICCI.

According to a recent survey by community platform LocalCircles, 76% parents said they do not want schools to reopen until there are no cases for 21 days in their district or vicinity. “Children, especially the younger ones, have a tendency to get in close proximity of each other and implementing any social distancing protocols will be a big challenge for teachers and school administration," the survey said.

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Published: 10 Jun 2020, 02:09 AM IST
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