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Schools not to reopen in C’garh till further orders — Govt.

By PTI Updated: Oct 11, 2020 12:49 pm

Raipur, Oct 11 (PTI): The Chhattisgarh government has said schools in the state will continue to remain closed till further orders in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, a move welcomed by many parents.

As per the Centre’s guidelines, state governments can take decision about reopening of schools after October 15.

However, the Chhattisgarh cabinet on Thursday decided that in view of the pandemic situation in the state, schools will continue to remain shut.

Hailing the move, Chhattisgarh Parents’ Association (CPA), a state-level body, has demanded that the central and state governments declare this academic session as “zero year” for students till Class 8 and promote them to the next class.

“Safety of children is the priority of every parent and sending them to school in the present peak situation of the virus outbreak will put their life at risk,” CPA president Kristopher Paul told PTI.

“The government should declare the 2020-21 academic session as zero year for classes from nursery till 8 and promote the students to the next class,” said Paul, whose son is in Class 6 in a private school in Rajnandgaon town.

He said students of classes 9 to 12 should be given assignments and projects for their final evaluation, but schools should also not be opened for them till the Covid-19 situation is under control.

Echoing similar views, Pradip Dongre, a sub-engineer with the irrigation department in Dantewada, said the current situation is not conducive for physical classes.

“Why would parents like to allow their children to go out and expose themselves to the virus? It would be difficult for a school to identify which child’s family members are infected by Covid-19,” he said.

Dongre said his son and daughter, who are in Class 8 and 12, respectively, are comfortable with online classes.

Till Saturday, the state reported 1,40,258 Covid-19 cases and of these, over 80,000 cases were detected in the last one month.

Though parents remain concerned, students of senior classes are disappointed with prolonged closure of schools as they are finding it difficult to understand topics clearly online due to internet connectivity issues.

Shatabdi Rai, a Class 11 student of Career Public School in Korba, said online classes have changed the style of learning.

“It is hard to understand topics clearly and get our doubts resolved online. Poor network is also an issue. Online classes cannot match normal classroom learning,” she said.

Annu Dubey, a Class 12 student of Maitri Vidya Niketan school at Bhilai (Durg district), said she not only misses seeing her friends, but also school sports.

“I miss my friends and being in school as it is my last year of school education. We are becoming used to virtual classes, but they are not good as they create confusion a lot of times. Everyone starts asking questions together or sometimes internet connectivity gets disrupted,” she said.

In the wake of the pandemic, many government and private schools in the state have undertaken online classes to continue with the academic session.

The state government’s online academic portal, called ‘Padhai Tuhar Duar’, (learning at your doorstep), has proved beneficial for students and is being appreciated across the country, a government statement said on Friday.

The portal was launched in the early stage of the nationwide lockdown to provide hassle-free and non-stop learning to children, it said.

Till now, 39.57 lakh online classes have been successfully conducted by 1.43 lakh teachers, imparting education to 3.77 lakh children via smartphones, it said.

Offline classes are also being conducted under the Padhai Tuhar Para (learning at your locality) initiative in remote and forested regions, which lack internet connectivity.

As part of the initiative, 23,643 teachers are helping over 7.48 students via 35,982 centres, the release said.

The offline classes are being conducted mostly in villages in collaboration with locals, it added.

Schools not to reopen in Maharashtra before Diwali — Minister

Mumbai: In another news, as the coronavirus cases continue to rise in Maharashtra, state School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad has said schools will not reopen in the state before Diwali.

Maharashtra has till now reported 15,17,434 COVID-19 cases and 40,040 deaths due to the disease.

The Centre on March 16 announced closure of all educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

It has now allowed graded reopening of schools from October 15.

Gaikwad, who recently recovered from COVID-19, said schools have been conducting virtual classes and teachers have been taking special classes for students in some areas.

However, the challenge is to find a way to end the academic year and assess students, she said.

“While we are exploring various options, it is clear that schools will not open before Diwali,” Gaikwad said.

According to senior officials in the state education department, reopening schools under the current circumstances is out of question, as there is no sign of the pandemic abating.

State Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant also said his department does not intend to reopen colleges until the COVID-19 situation is under control.

“The situation is grim for students who wish to pursue higher studies abroad, as their future depends on our decision,” he added.

Even as the state government and bureaucracy mull over solutions, children and parents are worried as they seem to be caught in a quagmire.

“I have taken an education loan and my parents are repaying it. If I don’t get good grades in exams, how will I get a good job?” said Raviraj Humbe, an engineering student from Pune.

There must be some technical solution for conducting exams and tests, he said.

Meanwhile, education expert Kishore Darak suggested that the state government can club two or three educational years so that concerns of parents about academic loss can be addressed.

While the safety of students is imperative, it is high time that the state comes up with a bipartisan approach towards education, he said.

“The government must come up with a solution where local officials are authorised to take context-specific decisions like full or partial reopening of schools or alternate day scheduling of classes, among others,” he said.

Schools won’t reopen in Goa unless everybody is on board — Govt.

Panaji: Meanwhile, the Goa government will take a decision on reopening schools only after consulting all the stakeholders including teachers, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said.

Teachers’ associations are opposed to restarting physical classes immediately, fearing it would be impossible to maintain social distancing in schools.

Amid rising coronavirus cases, the safety of students is of paramount importance, Sawant told PTI over the week-end.

Sawant said he has asked the state education secretary and director of education to hold consultations with stakeholders, including school managements, parent-teacher associations and teachers’ bodies such as the Goa Headmasters’ Association and Goa Principals’ Forum.

The decision to reopen schools will be taken only after getting approvals from all the stakeholders and putting necessary Standard Operating Procedures in place, he said.

Sawant had held consultations with the stakeholders in the last week of September, and it was then decided that schools will not reopen immediately from October 1.

As part of the Unlock 5.0 guidelines, states have been asked to decide on reopening schools from October 15.

Sawant said the Goa government is thinking of starting classes of standards 10th and 12th first, if and when it decides to reopen schools.

Teachers’ associations opposed immediate reopening of schools during a meeting with Director of Education Santosh Amonkar, sources said.

Maintaining social distancing in schools all the time is difficult, teachers’ representatives said.

“None of the schools have the infrastructure to conduct classes while maintaining social distancing. There are common toilets for students, with hundreds of them sharing a single facility in many schools. This will further spread the viral infection,” a representative of the Goa Headmasters’ Association said.

Teachers are already holding classes online and in some cases even visiting students at their homes, he said.

By PTI Updated: Oct 11, 2020 12:49:02 pm