Schools were closed since March 2020 following the outbreak of novel Coronavirus. Later, the Government of India imposed and extended the lockdown. As a result of this, schools and other educational institutions also had to close their premises. Students as well as teachers suffered because of this immediately enforced shutdown. All the educational activities came to an abrupt halt. But the hope to fight against the deadly pandemic persisted. People also modified their way of defense to control the infection caused by Covid-19 and started living a new normal life. In education also, people shifted their mode of studying from offline to online and accepted the idea of e-learning. Later, in October 2020, the government announced the reopening of schools in different phases for senior classes. Now, several state governments are reopening the schools for classes 6 to 12 after 11 months of shutdown.
When the government first granted the permission to reopen schools and other educational institutions for higher classes, students needed written permission from their parents to attend these schools. It was strictly mentioned in the official notice that no educational institution will pressurize students to attend physical classes. If students wanted to attend virtual classes, then it will be taken into consideration. Similarly, now when state governments are planning to reopen the schools for primary classes as well, all the schools have to follow the prescribed guidelines.
Dates of reopening of schools according to states:
The Union government has permitted the reopening of schools in phases after October 15 2020. However, individual state will decide the actual timing and manner of reopening. According to senior officers in the Education Ministry, the union government had already indicated its preference by permitting senior students of classes 9 to 12 to meet their teachers in schools voluntarily. However, if a state wants to bring back the younger students first, the Education Ministry will not interfere. So, the decision about the students relies on the guidelines issued by the state they live in.
Given below is the state-wise list of reopening of schools for classes 1 to 12th–
The Rajasthan government has decided to reopen schools from
Class 6 to 8 from February 8th 2021 with proper guidelines. State government also resumed classes for first and second-year undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The Chief Minister’s Office of Uttar Pradesh states that the classes for 6 to 8 grades should be resumed as per the guidelines of the Government of India from 10th of February. While students of class 1 to 5 will attend the school from 1st March. However, schools for 1 to 8 classes will reopen only twice a week. UP CMO took to Twitter via their official account to confirm the same.
The Bihar government has reopened the schools for classes 6 to 8 in the state from February 8. Schools of Bihar earlier reopened classes 9 to 12 with 50 per cent attendance. Moreover, colleges for first, second and third year have resumed physical classes.
For classes 6 to 11th, The state government has issued an ordered to resume offline classes from February 8.
The Odisha government also reopened the schools for classes 9 to 11 from February 8. For a month, schools of Odisha are conducting offline classes for students of 10 and 12 Classes. Schools will conduct the classes for six days in a week between 8.30 am and 10.30 am from February 8 to April 30.
The Tamil Nadu government has started the classes for grade 9 and 11 from February 8. Colleges and universities in the state have also been reopened for undergraduate and postgraduate classes.
Telangana reopened schools for physical classes with all precautionary measures because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Students of 9th standard and above have returned to regular classrooms following all safety guidelines. Moreover, schools in Puducherry, Pune and other urban and rural areas of Nashik city have reopened in a restricted manner.
What will be the criterion of attendance?
The Education and Home Ministries have categorically said that educational administration does not force students to attend classes in school. The Ministry’s guidelines for reopening also states that attendance is not mandatory and it entirely depends on parental consent. Those who choose not to go back to school can attend online classes. Those schools that lack an ICT-enabled environment will instruct their teachers to interact with students and parents on the phone. Teachers will discuss on-going learning in the class and keep track of students through interview mode.
Benchmarks for reopening of schools:
The need to reopen schools is felt by students, parents, teachers, and academicians nationwide. Students are facing several difficulties in learning whether they are learning through online mode or not be able to attend physical classes. Students who live in the areas where server connectivity is poor had also faced many problems. Now, when the Indian government started the vaccination campaign, the state government also allowed schools to conduct regular classes. However, educational institutions will simultaneously provide online learning facilities. Schools and even other higher educational institutes have to follow some guidelines. To ensure the health, safety and well-being of students and teachers, the state government has asked all the authorities to follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) and COVID-19 precautionary guidelines.
Schools Reopen Guidelines
- If parents are sending their children to attend the classes, then it is not compulsory to attend the school daily. Attendance could be rotational, on alternate days, or every two days.
- The day on which students are at home, teachers will ask them to self-study the chapters that are important and easier to understand.
- In case of high enrolment numbers, schools can run the classes in two shifts. School administration can also reduce the time duration per shift so that it can manage the classes with the same staff.
- School administration will call 50 per cent of the students in every class on one day and the remaining 50 per cent on the next day.
- The school will not allow students to share their notebooks, food and toys with other students.
- Students will sit at a distance of 6 feet from each other.
- Schools and colleges must follow all the precautions which should be followed by everyone (students, teachers, and employees).
- Every individual should follow the social distancing guidelines including the use of face masks, maintaining distance, and prohibition of spitting.
- Educational institutions to give priority to the students who live in areas where connectivity is not good.
- Older educators have a relaxation of not going to school. They can continue their service through online mode of learning.
- As far as possible, parents should use their transport to drop children to school.
How will schools conduct the assessment?
According to the Education Ministry’s guidelines, after reopening, schools will not conduct any assessment for at least two to three weeks. Even after that, the administration will not conduct the exams in pen and paper mode for the students. Teachers will assess the students in the form of role plays, choreography, class quizzes, puzzles and games, brochure designing, etc.
The reaction of students about reopening of schools:
After many months of online classes, students have finally found themselves getting excited for going to school again. Some students of senior secondary classes are feeling nostalgic and they want to get back on the campus as this year is the last year of school for them. It is very prominent that going to school daily is not possible due to the critical situation, but students are eagerly looking forward to going at least for a few days. But along with nostalgia there is a necessity behind this wish. Some students have lost focus in study even while learning from online classes. Face-to-face sessions will help the students with subjects like Math and Accountancy. However, parents and few students are also nervous about this new change and they are hoping for the best.