School principals have largely favoured a staggered reopening of classrooms for Class X and XII students depending on the Covid-19 situation according to a survey by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). However, some principals have cautioned against any “hurry”, saying the parents would not send their children to school unless they feel confident about the safety of their health.
The CBSE had asked schools principals to send their opinion on when the schools should reopen and what safety measures should be taken if they do by July 31. “We got a mixed reaction. But the principals largely want the schools to reopen, especially for the Class X and XII students (who face board exams next year), in a staggered manner depending on the situation in the locality,” a board official said.
He explained that “staggered” meant classes would be held for some sections on a particular day and for other sections on other days.
After the board shares the findings with the human resource development ministry, the Centre will take a decision in consultation with the states, a ministry official said.
Srinivasan Sriram, Principal of The Mann School, a residential school in Delhi, said: “I think the schools can be allowed to open for senior students from September in the non-containment zones. Where the situation is not conducive, school opening can be deferred.” He added that schools that reopen from September may adopt various methods to ensure social distancing including introducing two shifts or an odd-even formula or holding some classes online and the rest offline.
While Kiran Mehta, director (academics), Mother Mary School, New Delhi said, “We conducted our own survey and found that the parents are not at all interested in sending their children to school unless the Covid-19 crisis is fully over.”
Many academics argue that the online classes have been leaving poor and rural students, who lack the necessary gadgets or connectivity, in the lurch.
Former CBSE chairperson Ashok Ganguly said the schools should be opened in a phased manner and only when the situation becomes near-normal. “One thing is sure — in the near future, the schools cannot function as one unit from Class I to XII, or Class VI to XII, all at the same time,” he said.
Ganguly suggested the options of morning and evening sessions for the lower and higher classes, respectively, and having students of odd and even-numbered classes attend school on alternate days.
“In short, except for Classes X and XII, students of all other classes should have to attend school only three days a week, and for a reduced number of hours. This is necessary to maintain social distancing because our class sizes are huge,” he said.
Ganguly favoured shorter online class hours for now, with short breaks after every 15 minutes or so. “We also have to come out with some scheme in collaboration with the banks so that schoolchildren can have the gadgets at low-cost EMIs,” he said.