MUMBAI: Private board schools have shifted to online education methods using various digital tools to keep students occupied and avoid any academic loss during the lockdown. While school authorities feel these methods are helping students, some parents have raised concerns like the lack of attention span among students, difficulty in learning, and no change in fee structure.

Authorities of private board schools revealed they have started online education on a daily basis where teachers are directly interacting with students, explaining concepts to them and assigning homework.

Raj Aloni, Principal of Ramsheth Thakur Public School, said, "We have online teaching going on from 9 am to 2.30 pm every day. Around 66 teachers are teaching 4,000 students simultaneously through the app.

All worksheets and notes are sent to parents through SnapHomework app." In addition, some private schools are providing extra-curricular classes, such as physical education, art class and language class through online video tutorials and live classes.

These initiatives are being taken by private schools, as the academic year of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) begins in April. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, schools are shut, and students are quarantined at home.

On the other hand, some parents have raised concerns about no change in the fee structure. Rahul Nimbalkar, a parent of a CBSE board student, said, "Schools are charging regular fees like they would usually when classes were offline.

Fees are allotted for infrastructure, library, maintenance, electric and water supply but, these services are not being utilised now in online education, then why have schools not lowered their fees? I am facing salary cuts due to the lockdown, so it is difficult to manage high-end fees." Some parents revealed children do not have a thorough attention span in online education as there is nobody to keep a watch on them.

Jheel Chadda, a parent, said, "My daughter uses an i-pad for her online classes, but most of the time she is distracted in playing games, watching videos and listening to rhymes. Our children are not used to online education and virtual classrooms as they have a habit of sitting in a classroom surrounded by their peers with a teacher supervising them."

On the fee issue, private school authorities responded saying there is no change in the fee structure because they still have to pay salaries of teachers, buy software’s and app licenses online and maintain school infrastructure. Aloni said, "Salaries of teachers are a major chunk of the fees.

We have to pay teachers and other non-teaching staff. Also, we have additional expenses as we have bought the paid licensed version of educational apps and software’s for smooth and fast streaming."

A principal of an ICSE board Malad school said, "Even if the school is closed, our nonteaching staff is going in turns to clean the school, water the garden plants and clerical staff is working from home. We use the fee amount to pay off salaries of the staff."

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