Re-opening of Schools: What are the latest guidelines amid fear of pandemic?

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Our life has changed from the past several months. We are still counting that when it will get back to normal. This is because of the spread of an infectious disease named COVID-19. It has brought everything to a halt including school education. Now, the government has announced the re-opening of schools under unlock 5.0 guidelines. In this article, we will discuss the latest updates and how schools will be opened amid the fear of ongoing pandemic. We will also find what preventive measures need to be taken for the safety of little ones. 

What are the impacts of the pandemic on school education?

Since the beginning of the year 2020, the outbreak of coronavirus has been creating havoc in the whole world. People are suffering a lot because of it. Initially, people face a challenging situation like lockdown. In India, people suffered from starvation and inflation on common commodities. People got stuck, away from their families without work and food. Pandemic also impacted the school education across the globe. Schools are forced to shut for more than 6 months In India. It has affected the entire process of teaching, admission, examination, results, etc.

Modifications in school education during the pandemic

Life seems to get stopped but people didn’t lose hope. They found another way to live their life. People changed their way of living and adapted themselves according to the need of the situation. They started most of their work through online platforms. Many occupational and academic work is running through the mode of internet technology. Nowadays, people are conducting online meetings. The retail businesspersons also started delivering essential items and services digitally via different applications. The education sector has also found some new ways of teaching and learning. Educational Institutions are running their classes through e-learning.

The use of e-learning applications for official and educational purposes has increased rapidly in the past months. Applications like Zoom, Microsoft Team, Google Meet, LinkedIn, Coursera, BYJU’S, Vedantu, etc. make the work easy for teachers and schools. Teachers can conduct meetings, make video calls, take online classes efficiently with these e-learning apps.

After several months of working digitally, we have observed some changes. On one hand, people are getting benefits by continuing their schooling from home even in the lockdown. On the other hand, some health concerns have also arisen by excessive use of technology and long-time screen exposure. In fact, in many places, several people are not able to access technology. Some people do not even have the required devices at all to enable digital learning. So, students are facing both the positive and negative impacts of e-learning.  

SCHOOLS

The latest update about re-opening of schools

People are now eagerly waiting for this pandemic to end to get their life back on track as soon as possible. Towards this motive, the Indian government had already made some changes under the several Unlocking schemes. In India, the government permitted the re-opening of schools under Unlock 5.0. However, schools received the permission for re-opening on September 21, 2020 . This only permitted teaching/ non- teaching staff and students on a voluntary basis. But, now according to the latest update of the Ministry of Affairs (MHA) schools shall be re-open from 15th October 2020 in a graded manner. The MHA first consults with the respective schools/institutions (which will be going to re-open) about the situation after assessing it.

Though schools/ learning institutes should follow the conditions mentioned below for re-opening:

  1. Schools should not make attendance mandatory.
  2. A student who does not want to attend physical classes but is willing to attend or continue online mode of classes should not be forced to attend school.
  3. Online classes or distance learning shall be continued.
  4. Student only comes to school after the written consent of his/her parents.
  5. Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSE) of Indian Government will issue a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to States which they have to follow and prepare their own SOP by keeping the local requirements in view.
  6. Schools that are going to re-open have to follow the SOP issued by the State government / UTs.
  7. The decision regarding the timing of re-opening of Higher Educational Institutions/ Colleges shall be given after the consultation with the Department of Higher Education (DoHE). Till then online classes will be preferred as the mode of learning.
  8. Permission for opening Higher Education Institution will be given from 15th of October 2020 only for the research scholars (Ph.D.), Postgraduate students (science and technology streams) for laboratory and practical experiments.
  9. The Head of Centrally funded Higher Education Institutions first satisfies himself/herself that there is a genuine need of research scholars (Ph.D.), Postgraduate students (science and technology streams) for laboratory and practical experiments.
  10. As per the decision taken by the State Government/ UTs, other Higher Education Institutions (State Universities, Private Universities, etc.) will get re-open only for research scholars (Ph.D.), Postgraduate students (science and technology streams) for laboratory and practical experiments.

This update brings hope and becomes a matter of concern also. The positive aspect of this news is that the students can learn efficiently and effectively in a proper way. This is because learning is better in person as compared to virtual classes. Learning requires a practical touch. Learning we acquire in schools is fairer than online learning as it develops the better and authentic communication between teacher and learner. The clarity of concepts is more in school learning. E-learning is not beneficial for the learners who reside in remote areas or the parents who are technologically backward. School learning maintains regularity and also keeps the children away from the destructive or addictive habit of internet use. School gives better exposure to children. It provides an ample amount of opportunities in different fields. It also enhances the personality and makes the student creative.

But this creates a series of questions that what will happen when schools get re-open:

  1. What will happen if a student refuses to wear a mask?
  2. How social distancing will be maintained if children will play together?
  3. What controlling measures would be taken by schools regarding with coronavirus?
  4. How much a child is at risk to become COVID positive if he/she goes to school?

All these questions create panic among parents. So, the re-opening of schools might bring some relief but it may be also dangerous for the community since the virus has not gone away. The final decision is in the hands of the government. For more clarification, we have to wait for the next update.

Note: For more information about the guidelines issued by MHRD regarding re-opening of schools, click on link given below-

https://www.mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/SOP_Guidelines_for_reopening_schools.pdf

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the valuable information. The need of the hour is to open school as the Learning schedule is Highly impacted by this Pandemic. In my family, Children started using mobile for study but in reality they are being addictive to mobile they started plaing games and use social media. Without Personal intervention of teacher Learning is difficult for small children upto class 8.

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