Well, amid the lockdown, students and parents have raised doubts as to the commencement of the academic year.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Varsha Gaikwad, Minister of School Education Department of Maharashtra, said that the education department is mulling ways to gradually repoen schools from June 15 onwards. However, this depends on the clearance from the Union Home Ministry.
She said that the schools outside containment zones in non-red zones can reopen schools first. Gaikwad assured that the schools will reopen keeping in mind all the guidelines and take steps to maintain a safe environment for the students.
Gaikwad said that when the schools reopen, the school authorities will have to follow strict hygiene guidelines and social distancing will have to be maintained at all times. Furthermore, the education department is formulating new SOPs for schools to follow once they are open.
Addressing the problems schools in rural areas are facing, Gaikwad said that schools in urban areas have switched to e-learning but the continuity of education still remains a big concern in rural and tribal areas who do not have access to technology and live without internet connectivity. Hence classroom teaching always remains vital for them, she says.
Gaikwad, however, said that schools in Mumbai may have to wait a bit longer as the cases have increased in the city rapidly. She said during these times when schools are shut, teachers are doing their best to ensure that the students do not miss out their classes and their learning is not interrupted. She further said that while e-learning has proven to be helpful, it cannot replace classroom experience as some students may find it difficult to grasp online classes.
Further, speaking about how schools would function post COVID-19, she said that firstly maintaining a physical between students is of utmost importance. She added that looking at possible ways, the department is in talks of running the classes in two shifts or calling one batch of students every alternate day. Morever, she said that school hours will be shortened and only one student will be allowed to sit on one bench. In addition to this, the schools will have to refrain from conducting any morning assemblies or sporting activities for at least some time. Moreover, parents or outsiders will not be allowed inside the school premises.
While speaking about what measures is the department going to take for the school staff, Gaikwad said that teachers who even have mild cold, cough or fever will be asked to take a day off.
She said that the Diwali vacation is likely to be shortened in order to make up for the time lost during the COVID-19 crisis.