Schools, colleges and educational institutions around the country faced forced closure since the middle of March this year. Ever since the Government of India announced a nationwide lockdown in the view of controlling the coronavirus pandemic, educational institutes have been forced to close off their offline modes of education and adopt newer methods, online. The transformation has been one of the most rapid and successful this years but it has come with its own sets of challenges. Other than a lack of experience in adapting to the virtual method, a lot of people failed to receive necessary access to equipment and resources.
However, states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and Goa, are now considering reopening schools from September 2020 with new measures. The new normal for the education department seems to be peeking over the horizon now that there has been a dip in coronavirus cases in some, previously heavily affected regions, like New Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Mumbai.
Human Resources and Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has pointed out that schools will only open keeping in mind preventive measures against the pandemic. This has not been received well by several parents’ associations who strongly oppose the decision to re-open school in the current academic year of 2020-21.
Delhi Parents’ Association wrote to the minister last month, that read: “The order to shut all schools…had been made on March 16 when the number of infected cases was in the hundreds. Now, it has crossed 10 lakh cases… To deliberate upon reopening schools in this situation is in itself laughable.” The parents’ association has also suggested that board examinations should be conducted online for the current year.
The states that have chosen to re-open schools in September will be taking additional measures like open classes, staggered entry and alternate days of classes, among others. Although the Andhra Pradesh government has announced the resumption of classes from 5 September, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s directive had the statement: “Hopefully the situation will be normal by then.” The chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has announced the resumption of schools provided situations have improved within 31 August. Schools in the state are likely to re-open on the same day Teachers’ Day is observed, that is, 5 September.
Assam, on the other hand, is geared up to re-open schools from 1 September, itself. Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced the new school structure owing to the present situation of the country. Classes 5 to 8 will be conducted under open air and Classes 9 to 12 will witness staggered entry. Goa, too, expects to resume schools from September this year. Other states of the country, on the other hand, plan on resuming offline classes, that is reopening schools but wishes to do so by the end of this year. The situation is anticipated to be in control by the end of the year for the resumption of some form of normalcy, soon.