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Experts suggest to reopen schools

Reopen schools now, say education experts

August 16, 2021
-Reshma Ravishanker

As few state governments issue orders to reopen schools in a phased manner starting with secondary classes, education experts are demanding full-fledged reopening of in-person school for all grades in all states countrywide.

Rajendra Singh, president, Independent English Schools’ Association, Mumbai, is critical of the U-turn taken by Maharashtra government which on August 10  announced  that schools would be reopened on August 17, but later on withdrew the order. “When malls and markets are kept open and children have unrestricted access to them, why is there a second thought to reopen schools. This shows the attitude of the state towards education. Schools must be allowed to commence in person classes with strict protocols in place. Even in Pune and Mumbai, the positivity rate is low. A blended learning is the right way forward now,” he said.

In West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said in a press briefing on August 5 that in-person classes are likely to commence only from November. Mukta Nain, Birla High School, Kolkata, says that schools reopening should not be delayed further. “We are all prepared for the reopening and are awaiting a government nod to get children back in class. We believe that in-person classes will commence after Durga Pooja. For how long will we keep shying away from Covid? It is time to fight and be brave. Classes must be reopened, especially for the senior classes because only then, proper learning would happen for them.”

The Karnataka government has, following consultations with the Covid-19 advisory committee, allowed in-person classes to commence for students of classes 9 and 12 (or PUC) from August 23 in districts with a positivity rate of less than 2 %. Shweta Sastri, Managing Director, Canadian International School, Bengaluru said, “We are very happy with the news that students in grade 9-12 will be able to return to campus soon.  Kids need to be back in school and this is the first step in the right direction.  We now look forward to the decision to bring back younger students back to campus too.  After more than a year and a half of being away from their classrooms, teachers, peers, and the school campuses, this is a very welcome announcement.”

Nita Arora, Principal, Sri Venkateshwar International School, New Delhi said  that rather than focusing on private schools where most students have access to gadgets and a stable internet connectivity, the government must commence in person classes for all students in government schools.

“Most of these children do not even have online classes. Marks are being distributed without a second thought. RTE has become RTP with all students being given a Right to Promotion. If students do not learn anything in schools, especially in the absence of online classes, how will you get them job ready? What will these children do for a living or how will they pursue higher education without a proper learning? Government schools must commence in-person classes on priority,” she added. 
Recently, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had asked parents and teachers to write to him with their opinion on reopening schools in the national capital.
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