– Reshma Ravishanker
With an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru city (pop. 12 million), all in-person classes across government and private schools have been cancelled for classes VI to IX in Bengaluru Urban district, effective from April 2.
In a press note that released late on Thursday, S Suresh Kumar, minister for primary and secondary education, Karnataka said that the decision was taken in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases. On Wednesday, Karnataka reported 4,234 new cases of Covid-19 of which 2,906 were from Bengaluru Urban district.
An earlier February 19 circular issued by the department of primary and secondary education had allowed schools to conduct in-campus classes for students from class VI to class VIII to help them prepare for the upcoming final exams. Previously, following a consultation with the government’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee, a circular on January 29 was issued allowing schools to conduct classes for class IX, X and pre university from February 1.
D Shashi Kumar, general Secretary, Associated Managements of Private Schools in Karnataka says that this overnight shutdown order has thrown awry the plans of many private schools which were scheduled to hold final exams for classes VI-VIII students next week “Some schools have ongoing exams and some had scheduled it for the second week of April. The association has sought that even if not for in-person classes, permission must be granted for schools to finish their final exams on premises. Private unaided schools are also agitated as a large number of parents might find the closure as an excuse not to pay the final term fee,” says Kumar.
Some schools that scheduled exams in the first and second week of April have been caught unaware by the government order. “We were to start exams on April 12. This decision has taken us by surprise. We are confused and do not know how to conduct exams now. If not classes, permission must be granted for exams to be held,” said Renukesh R, secretary, NBN Vidyamandira, a state board school in Bengaluru.
However B Gayethri Devi, principal, Little Flower Public Schools and former secretary of the Karnataka ICSE Schools Association said that the announcement would have little impact on exams of ICSE-affiliated schools. “Most ICSE schools have completed their exams in March. In case there is an exception, schools have the liberty to choose a date as per their convenience as the board does not have any rules for conduct of exams of classes VI to IX. The health and safety of children and teachers must take precedence over anything else including exams,” she says, welcoming the government’s decision.
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