Future interrupted: SoBo pre-schools conduct online classes violating govt guidelines

Despite state government guidelines directing, "No online classes for children till Class 2", some pre-schools and primary schools are allegedly conducting online sessions, reliable sources revealed. West Wind School, Babulnath, Sunflower Nursery School, Malabar Hill and Don Bosco High School, Matunga have allegedly begun the academic year by conducting daily online sessions for children in nursery, pre-primary (Kindergarten), Class 1 and Class 2.

Sources alleged that West Wind School is conducting online sessions daily while, Sunflower Nursery School never shut at all. A source said, "West Wind School has been conducting online teaching-learning sessions every day. Sunflower Nursery School continued online sessions despite the lockdown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The schools claim they did not receive a notification directly from the state government so the guidelines do not apply to them but only to public institutions."

Despite attempts to reach them through calls and e-mails seeking their comments, both the schools did not respond to the queries raised by the Free Press Journal.

A parent of a student studying in Class 1 at Don Bosco High School, Matunga, similarly said, "My son has been attending Google Meet sessions conducted by his school every day. Going by news reports of the state government banning online classes till Class 2, this is in violation of the state guidelines."

The Principal of Don Bosco High School, Matunga was not available for comment, despite attempts to reach him.

Recently, pre-school associations, parents, teachers and educationists protested on Twitter over the blanket ban on online classes till Class 2.

Swati Popat Vats, president of Early Childhood Association (ECA) said, "Some independent schools are facing pressure from parents who are willing to pay fees and want schools to conduct online education so that their children do not miss out on learning. While, other pre-schools are really struggling in the lockdown due to financial crisis and are compelled to conduct online sessions to keep a steady flow of finances. But ECA urges all to abide by the guidelines of the state government."

On June 15, the Maharashtra government released a circular with SOP guidelines stating, "There will be no online classes for children from pre-primary to Class 2. These students can learn through educational content on TV and Radio."

Varsha Gaikwad, state school education minister, said, "The blanket ban on online classes till Class 2 is to protect children of younger age from online screen time and instead divert them towards activity based learning through TV and Radio. The guidelines apply to all schools of Maharashtra."

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